Leah has been a health content creator for over 4 years. Her work helps make health information and healthcare more accessible. She is passionate about healthcare equality and hopes to help patients make informed health choices.
Leann Poston, M.D.
Leann Poston, M.D. earned her medical degree from the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. She completed an MBA from Raj Soin College of Business, focusing on healthcare. She is a full-time medical communication writer and educator.
February 4, 2021
Mayo Clinic states, “Diabetes mellitus refers to a group of diseases that affect how your body uses blood sugar (glucose).”
Diabetes is caused either by the deficiency of the hormone insulin or insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas and helps regulate your blood sugar. When your pancreas stops producing insulin or the cells in your body stop responding to insulin, diabetes can result.
A permanent cure for diabetes has not been discovered. That said, many people with diabetes live long and healthy lives by effectively managing their diabetes through lifestyle changes and medication.
There are two main categories of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes usually presents in childhood, has a genetic predisposition, and is generally due to a complete lack of insulin. Type 2 diabetes presents later in life and can be due to decreased insulin production or insulin resistance. The symptoms are less obvious, which may lead to a delayed diagnosis.
If left untreated or not properly treated, diabetes can be chronic and reduce life expectancy.
Read on to learn more about diabetes, including symptoms, risk factors, and management techniques.
In many cases, type 2 diabetes does not give any warning signs, and many people have it without knowing. It can be present and not show any symptoms until it has caused damage to the blood vessels in the body.
However, some signs can be indications that one has developed diabetes.
Many things can cause fatigue, so if you are always feeling tired, it does not necessarily mean you have diabetes. It is, however, a common symptom, so it’s best to double-check with a doctor.
Because insulin is responsible for the absorption of glucose into the body cells, a shortage of insulin may cause high blood sugar but low glucose levels in the body cells. The body cells send out signals that they are starving and need more glucose for energy production, making people with diabetes feel hungry not long after eating.
When there is excess sugar in the bloodstream, it pulls water from the body tissues into the bloodstream to dilute the sugar. The body reacts by producing more urine. Increased urine production will make a person with diabetes urinate more frequently. The urine may also contain abnormally high levels of sugar.
An increase in urination will lead to a shortage of body fluid. This fluid deficit will cause prolonged, often severe thirst.
Just like thirst, dehydration is also an outcome of excessive urination. Dehydration may also lead to dryness of the mouth and itching of the body.
All the signs stated above can be indicators of diabetes, but there are more symptoms that doctors can rely on for a diagnosis. Other common symptoms of diabetes are:
Type 1 diabetes is diagnosed if the body is unable to produce insulin, the hormone that is essential for regulating blood sugar. Type 1 diabetes is usually caused when the body’s immune system attacks insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.
Medical experts are not sure what causes this, although it has been found that this type of diabetes runs in families and is often hereditary.
Type 1 diabetes is common in younger people and is often more severe than type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes can be managed by the administration of insulin and changes in diet and exercise.
Type 2 diabetes is caused by insulin resistance. In this case, insulin is produced, but the body does not utilize it effectively. The receptors on the membranes of body cells do not respond to insulin correctly. This lack of response means that insulin cannot shuttle glucose from the bloodstream into the cells to be used as a source of energy.
The inability of the body to make use of insulin may force the pancreas to produce even more of the hormone. The pancreas continues to try to meet the demand until the cells become exhausted.
Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1 diabetes but not as deadly. Type 2 diabetes usually occurs after the age of 30 and is more common among those over the age of 45.
Medical experts have also found a strong link between obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and type 2 diabetes, with 85% of people with type 2 diabetes categorized as overweight.
This type of diabetes can be managed with medication that increases insulin levels in the blood or decreases blood sugar levels. It can also be managed with medications that reduce the body’s resistance to the utilization of insulin.
In addition to medication, people with type 2 diabetes must often make lifestyle adjustments to improve their nutrition and exercise routine.
During pregnancy, it is essential that some of the mother’s blood sugar be passed to the fetus. To accomplish this, the mother’s body may develop insulin resistance – just enough to leave sugar for the baby.
However, some pregnant women develop more resistance than required, causing high blood sugar. This increased insulin resistance causing high blood sugar during pregnancy is called gestational diabetes.
While medical professionals are not certain of the cause, they believe hormonal imbalances during pregnancy to be responsible.
This type of diabetes is found only in pregnant women, and it usually occurs during the end of the second trimester and the beginning of the third trimester. Gestational diabetes usually shows no symptoms and will normally disappear on its own after delivery.
However, if not properly managed, it can pose a danger to the child and mother or cause delivery complications. Both the mother and the child might also be at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later on in life. Gestational diabetes can be managed by eating foods low in sugar, exercising regularly, or taking medication.
If you have questions or concerns about diabetes, it’s best to talk to a medical professional about them. A great place to start is with a primary care physician.
Online doctor services are a great way to get a consultation without leaving your home. EverydayDr is the sister site of PlushCare, a top telehealth company changing the way patients receive urgent and primary care.
PlushCare’s doctors are all graduates from the top 50 U.S. medical schools and can diagnose, treat, and help with diabetes management, all online. They can also refer you to a specialist if necessary and will work with you to create a custom care plan that you can stick to.
You can get started by booking an online appointment with a PlushCare doctor here.
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