What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that affects how your body uses glucose, which is the most common form of sugar in the blood. We get glucose from the foods we eat, and it provides the body with energy. A healthy body can breakdown the foods we eat into glucose and other compounds, and these are then absorbed into the bloodstream. If it notices that there is glucose in the blood, the pancreas produces a hormone called insulin, which acts as a tool to allow the glucose in the bloodstream to enter the cells and be used. A body with diabetes either can’t make or react to insulin properly, causing the level of glucose in the blood to increase. This can result in a number of serious health problems.
Type 1 vs. Type 2 Diabetes
There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. In both cases the glucose levels in the blood become higher than normal. In type 1 diabetes this occurs because the pancreas is no longer able to make insulin. This occurs because the body’s own immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas, destroying them. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas is still able to produce insulin, just not enough to handle the amount of glucose in the blood.
No one is certain why type 1 diabetes occurs; however scientists think it is linked to genetics. In addition to being unpredictable, type 1 diabetes cannot be cured, and daily insulin shots will be required to deal with this disease. You can be tested to find out if you are genetically predisposed to the condition, and then take steps for type 1 diabetes prevention.
Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes
Although type 1 diabetes is a serious disease, its symptoms are not always obvious, and they can take a long time to fully develop. For this reason, education and awareness are key, especially if there is a family history of this disease. Here are a few common symptoms of type 1 diabetes:
Frequency of urination. The kidneys respond to the increased level of glucose in the blood by trying to flush it out. This can result in more frequent urination and in larger volumes.
Abnormal thirst. Because of the frequent urination, the body can become dehydrated. In order to combat this, the person with type 1 diabetes may drink more fluids than normal.
Weight loss, or lack of weight gain in children. Type 1 diabetes may come with an increase in appetite; however, because the body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs, it will begin to break down muscle and stored fat, and this can result in a loss of weight or lack of weight gain.
Feeling of tiredness. Because the body is unable to use the glucose for energy, there may be an increased feeling of tiredness.
Other symptoms of diabetes include bedwetting in a child or a vaginal yeast infection in a girl who has not yet started puberty. If these early symptoms are not recognized, more serious symptoms can develop in the person whose type 1 diabetes goes untreated for many years. Some of the more serious symptoms of untreated type 1 diabetes include heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, and vision impairment.
The good news is that proper treatment can control and sometimes stop the symptoms of type 1 diabetes. The disease can be easily diagnosed by a blood test, so if you think you or your child may have these symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor.
MedicineNet.com “Diabetes.” https://www.medicinenet.com/diabetes_mellitus/article.htm.