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What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a group of diseases in which patients have high blood glucose levels because their bodies have insulin production or utilization defects.  There are 3 major types of diabetes - Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational Diabetes

Type 1
People with Type 1 diabetes no longer produce any insulin.  This type of diabetes occurs mostly in children and young adults and can develop rapidly. Although what causes Type 1 diabetes is not known combination of genetics and an autoimmune response to a virus is suspected.  Patients must follow strict guidelines for food and exercise as well as frequent blood glucose monitoring and titrated insulin injections. Although the regimen must be strict, most Type 1 diabetics manage very well and live long, normal healthy lives.

Type 2
The most common form of diabetes, Type 2, occurs when the patients’ bodies no longer use insulin properly (insulin resistance), resulting in a rise in blood glucose levels. Initially, the pancreas will increase its insulin production but eventually, it cannot keep up.  Without treatment, blood glucose levels will rise to dangerous levels.  In addition, constant exposure to elevated levels of glucose will trigger complications including vascular disease, renal failure, blindness and chronic wounds that may lead to amputation. Prediabetes indicates that blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. There is an elevated risk that diabetes will later develop.

Women who did not have diabetes before they were pregnant, may develop problems controlling their blood glucose during pregnancy.  If the mother’s blood glucose cannot be safely controlled, her baby will be receive too much glucose.  This will force the baby’s pancreas to produce excess insulin and be excessively heavy at birth.  In addition to a more difficult labor, the baby may be born with dangerously low blood glucose levels. 

Although symptoms for Type 1 diabetes can be dramatic including extreme weight loss even when eating more, symptoms for Type 2 and Gestational diabetes can be so mild that they are not noticed until the disease is advanced. Symptoms can include excessive thirst and hunger, urinating often, extreme fatigue, blurry vision, slow healing of cuts/bruises and tingling, pain or numbness in hands and feet. 

If blood glucose is not controlled, the patient will develop complications including cardiovascular disease and stroke, blindness, kidney disease and failure and chronic wounds that require amputation.   To prevent these complications, it is important to detect diabetes as soon as possible and to aggressively ensure that blood glucose is managed.

Read More >>>  Diagnosis  >>  Complications  >>  Treatment

Health Crisis >> Diabetes Basics >> Diagnosis  >>  Complications  >>  Treatment
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