Diabetes (or diabetes mellitus) refers to a lifelong, persistent condition, or a group of diseases that impacts how the human body uses blood sugar (glucose). Glucose is integral to human health because it types an important energy supply for cells that make up body tissues and muscles (Ions 616). If any individual has diabetes of any type, it implies that he or she has too much glucose in the blood, which may lead to serious fitness problems. However, there exist different sorts of diabetes, depending on the causes of extra glucose in the blood. This paper explores diabetes, with the focus on its types, symptoms, its causes, risk factors, check and diagnosis, complications, treatment, and prevention.
Types of Diabetes
There exist three primary types of diabetes, which include type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, as well as gestational diabetes. Type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes are chronic diabetes conditions (Vasilios 57). On the other hand, potentially reversible diabetes conditions include gestational diabetes, which arises during pregnancy but may end or resolve after delivery, and pre-diabetes characterized by higher blood sugar levels than normal but not high enough to constitute diabetes condition (Vasilios 58).
The symptoms of diabetes vary depending on the degree of blood sugar elevation. Some individuals, especially those with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, may not experience initial symptoms (Haines 105). However, the symptoms of type 1 diabetes tend to appear faster and may be more severe (Haines, 106). Some of the symptoms and signs of type 2 diabetes and type I diabetes include frequent urination, increased thirst, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, extreme hunger, blurred vision, irritability, and presence of ketones in urine (Haines 108). Other symptoms may include slow-healing sores and frequent skin, gum, and vaginal infections. Although type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, it usually develops during childhood or adolescence. On the other hand, type 2 diabetes, which is the most common type, can emerge at any age, especially among individuals older than 40 years (Haines 109).
Causes of Diabetes
Understanding the causes of diabetes requires one to first understand the roles of insulin and glucose in the body. Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas into the bloodstream and is responsible for lowering the amount of blood sugar. The secretion of insulin reduces as the blood sugar level drops. On the other hand, glucose from food and liver enters the body cells with the help of insulin (Vasilios 60).
Causes of Type 1 Diabetes
The actual cause of type I diabetes is not known. However, what is clear is that it may result when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, thereby leaving little or no insulin and causing sugar to build up in the bloodstream. Besides, Type I diabetes is perceived to be caused by a combination of environmental and genetic susceptibility factors, although the exact definition of such factors is still unclear (Lenartowicz 97).
Causes of Type 2 Diabetes and Prediabetes
In prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, the body cells develop resistance to insulin action, and the pancreas becomes unable to secrete adequate insulin to overcome the resistance. As a result, sugar builds up in the bloodstream instead of moving into body cells where it is required for energy. Various environmental and genetic factors are believed to play a significant role in the development of type 2 diabetes (Haines 110).
Causes of Gestational Diabetes
The placenta usually produces hormones for maintaining pregnancy, and such hormones may make the body cells to develop resistance to insulin. The pancreas usually responds by secreting more insulin to overcome such resistance. However, sometimes the pancreas may not keep up, thus making too little glucose to get into the body cells, with much of it remaining in the bloodstream. As a result, gestational diabetes develops (Oldberg 321).
The Risk Factors for Type 1 Diabetes
Although the actual cause of type 1 diabetes is not known, the various factors that may exhibit a high risk include environmental factors such as exposure to viral illnesses, family history, dietary factors such as low vitamin D consumption, the occurrence of the immune system destroying cells, and geographical location (Irons 617).
Risk Factors for Type 2 and Prediabetes
Scientists or researchers have not found clear explanations regarding why some individuals develop type 2 diabetes and prediabetes as opposed to others. However, they have made it clear that some of the factors that increase the risk include family history, inactivity, heavy body weight, old age, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, polycystic ovary syndrome, and abnormal cholesterol levels among others (Haines 113).
Risk Factors for Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes can develop in any pregnant woman. However, some women can be at higher risk than others. The various risk factors for gestational diabetes include heavy body weight, family history, old age, and race among others (Vasilios 63).
Complications of Diabetes
Long-term diabetes complications develop gradually. The less one’s blood sugar is controlled, and the longer one has diabetes, the higher the complications risk. The complications of diabetes may eventually lead to disability or even loss of life (Oldberg 324). Possible complications may include nerve damage, cardiovascular disease, foot damage, kidney damage, skin problems, eye damage, Alzheimer’s disease, and hearing impairment among others (Lenartowicz 99). Additionally, uncontrolled or untreated gestational diabetes can lead to various complications in the baby, including low blood sugar, excess growth, and development of type 2 diabetes in later life. Complications in the mother may include subsequent gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Also, pre-diabetes conditions can develop into type 2 diabetes (Irons 619).
Test and Diagnosis
Tests for Prediabetes and Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
The various tests conducted for pre-diabetes, type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes include Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test, which indicates an individual’s blood sugar level within the last two to three months. Another test is Random Blood Sugar Test (random blood sugar level equal to or higher than 200 milligrams per deciliter indicates diabetes) (Vasilios 64). The fasting blood sugar test is also used (fasting blood sugar level of between 100 to 125 mg/dL suggests pre-diabetes). The oral glucose tolerance test may also be used (a reading of above 200 mg/dL after 2 hours indicate diabetes and a reading of between 140 and 199 mg/dL indicate pre-diabetes) (Vasilios 65).
Tests for Gestational Diabetes
The evaluation of the risk factor for gestational diabetes occurs during the early stages of pregnancy and may involve initial glucose challenge test (blood sugar level lower than 140 mg/dL is considered normal), and follow-up glucose tolerance testing (Haines 114).
Treatment and Drugs
Depending on the type of diabetes, insulin and oral medications, as well as blood sugar monitoring can play significant roles in the treatment of diabetes. The maintenance of a healthy weight, adoption of a healthy diet, and participation in regular exercise also form important factors in diabetes management (Oldberg 325).
Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Treatments
Type 1 diabetes treatment involves the use of insulin pump or insulin injections, carbohydrate counting, and monitoring of blood sugar levels through regular checks. Type 2 diabetes treatment, on the other hand, involves diabetes medications, along with control of blood sugar level (Lenartowicz 106). Besides individuals with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes require insulin therapy. In some cases, the treatment of type 1 diabetes may require a pancreas transplant (Haines 116).
Gestational diabetes Treatment
Controlling blood sugar level is vital for keeping the baby healthy, as well as avoiding delivery-related complications. Apart from exercising and maintaining a healthy diet, the treatment plan for pregnant women may include blood sugar monitoring, sometimes through the use of oral and insulin medications (Vasilios 67).
Treatment for prediabetes
For individuals with prediabetes, adopting a healthy lifestyle is essential for normalizing the blood sugar level, or at least preventing it from increasing towards type 2 diabetes levels. A healthy lifestyle requires the maintenance of a healthy weight through healthy eating and exercise. In some cases, medications such as metformin can be helpful in lowering the risk of diabetes (Haines 117).
Prevention of Diabetes
Type I diabetes cannot be prevented. However, similar lifestyle choices that are used in the treatments of type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, and gestational diabetes can also assist in lowering the risk of type 1 diabetes. Such lifestyle options include getting more physical activity, eating healthy foods, and losing excess weight. Besides, diabetes prevention requires regular blood sugar checks, at least once every year (Haines 119; Vasilios, 69).
Living with diabetes can be challenging and frustrating. However, individuals with diabetes should stick with their diabetes management plans as recommended by their physicians. Since proper diabetes management can be tedious and time-consuming, and sometimes devastating, it is may be necessary for diabetic individuals to seek mental health support as a means of reducing the frustrations and getting more advice regarding effective diabetes management.
Haines, S. T. “Emerging Treatments for Patients with Type 2 Diabetes.” The Diabetes Educator33.Supplement 5 (2007): 105-125. Web.
Irons, Brian K. “Diagnosis of Diabetes Mellitus as A Cardiovascular Risk Equivalent or Risk Factor and Implications in Drug Therapy Management.” Diabetes Management 1.6 (2011): 615-626. Web.
Lenartowicz, Bernadette Barbara. “Innovative Treatments in Diabetes Type 1.” Journal of Diabetes & Metabolism 03.09 (2012): 96-112. Web.
OLDBERG, STEN. “On the Causes of Death in Cases of Diabetes Mellitus of Old Age.” Acta Medica Scandinavica 138.5 (2009): 319-327. Web.
Vasilios, George Liamis. “Hyponatremia in Diabetes Mellitus: Clues to Diagnosis and Treatment.” Journal of Diabetes & Metabolism 06.06 (2015): 57-69. Web.