Many of us today have at least heard of diabetes, even if we don’t fully understand what it is or how it’s caused. Most likely, we know one person out of ten who has been diagnosed with it. The person could be you, a friend, a coworker, or a family member. That’s because 34.2 million Americans have the disease, as stated in the National Diabetes Statistics Report for 2020.

Diabetes is not only widespread in the US as more than 422 million people in the rest of the world have it, too. Awareness of this and a sufficient understanding of the disease and its causes will help prevent its development early on. That’s why equipping yourself with the right information is important, such as the accurate diabetes definition, so you can preserve your and your family’s health

Diabetes Definition: What is Diabetes?

It’s when the glucose or blood sugar level gets too high. In diabetes, either insulin isn’t being produced or it’s not functioning properly so there isn’t enough to regulate glucose levels. Insulin is the body’s hormone responsible for converting your body’s sugar into energy for present consumption or to be stored for later.

Insulin is produced by the pancreas once blood sugar levels rise, keeping blood sugar levels from rising too high or dipping too low. As glucose is distributed to different parts of the body, insulin is sent with it. This hormone allows the sugar to be absorbed into every cell. Without it, this energy source can’t enter the cell and remains in the blood. 

The body has to balance glucose levels from the food you intake with the glucose your liver produces and/or stores and releases into your body. When glucose lingers in your bloodstream too long, it eventually damages your blood vessels. As a result, diabetes causes an increased risk of other diseases such as strokes, heart problems, kidney complications, deteriorating vision, and nerve issues. 

 

Types of Diabetes and Their Causes 

 

There are some differences between diabetes types in how they work inside the human body and how they were caused. Knowing the diabetes types directs you to how they should be managed and treated when you comprehend how the problem transpired. Diabetes is classified between two main types.

Type 1 Diabetes

It’s the rarer form between the two because of its nature. It’s an autoimmune disorder, which means the body’s immune system mistakes certain parts or chemicals of the body as foreign bodies and attacks it. In type 1, the body destroys its own insulin-producing cells, rendering the pancreas unable to perform one of its main functions, regulating blood sugar levels.

With zero insulin, none of the glucose is turned into energy so the body simply tries to expel it through urinating. Those with Type 1 diabetes find themselves taking frequent bathroom trips and often thirsty from the loss of water. Urinating with this disease leads to another one of the diabetes type 1 symptoms called, thrushing. It’s when the genitals itch from the presence of bacteria, which feed on sugar.

Finding alternative sources of energy, the body will turn to the fat it has and break it down to be absorbed, reducing the person’s weight more and more over time. These are only a few ways your body is affected by Type 1 diabetes. Symptoms will occur quickly within a few weeks so you’ll be able to notice these changes.

 

Symptoms

If you have the following symptoms, it would be advisable to consult a medical physician:

  • Slow-healing wounds
  • Frequent urination
  • Blurry eyesight
  • Often very thirsty
  • Itch in the genital area
  • Constant feeling of fatigue
  • Weight loss

Cause: Unknown.

To this day, no one knows why this happens, only that 5.2% of cases are Type 1, they’re the most common form of diabetes found among children, and it’s genetically inherited, according to Diabetes UK. Within the last year, 1.4 million American adults disclosed having Type 1 diabetes and were taking insulin.

Autoimmune disorders, like Type 1 diabetes, are often marked by inflammation. Left too long, it can destroy blood vessels, organs, and nerves so doctors prioritize addressing it. However, inflammation is different from patient to patient. Divulging all important health information would better aid your physician in treating your symptoms.

Treatment

There is no cure for diabetes, particularly for Type 1, being an autoimmune disorder. The good news is symptoms can be reversed with continuous insulin treatment. Even when you no longer feel or detect signs of diabetes in any way, maintain taking insulin. Always consult a doctor before deciding on any changes to your medication.

Type 2 Diabetes

Unlike Type 1, this develops over time. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared in their 2020 report that it comprises 90%-95% of diabetes cases, usually among people 40 years old and up.

This disease is very different from its sibling. Diabetes Type 2 symptoms are trickier to spot because they appear gradually, sometimes over the space of years. It’s also more complex because it involves several functions in the body occurring at the same time across different parts.

Symptoms:

Although what diabetes Type 2 does to the body is completely different, the symptoms you should be looking out for are the same.

  • Slow-healing wounds
  • Frequent urination
  • Blurry eyesight
  • Often very thirsty
  • Itch in the genital area
  • Constant feeling of fatigue
  • Weight loss

The problem is they take much longer to manifest while there are cases of some people not showing any symptoms at all. Some don’t realize they have it until several years later and the disease has progressed. Regular annual check-ups and living a healthy lifestyle is advised to prevent any chance of developing Type 2.

Causes:

There are two main causes behind this diabetes type but both are closely linked, with one as an effect of the other, further complicating a person’s condition.

  • Insulin resistance

It’s where Type 2 diabetes starts. This is when fat furs up the cells, blocking the insulin from entering, which in turn, prevents glucose from being absorbed into the cell and causes a domino effect of events. Because it can’t be used up as energy, the blood sugar level continues to rise, prompting the pancreas to release more insulin.

While being overweight and living sedentary increases your risk of diabetes Type 2, it can also occur in healthy bodies. Aging also heightens susceptibility to the disease, especially when you reach the age of 45 years. That’s why it’s dubbed as “adult-onset diabetes” but the numbers of children diagnosed with it are rising, along with child obesity.

  • Lack of insulin

Deprived of the glucose they need, the cells send distress signals to the liver, urging it to release more glucose. As the glucose levels in the blood continue to rise, the pancreas will keep doing so. Eventually, the sugar level will be too high for it to cope with, especially when it breaks down from the stress and can no longer continue functioning.

Treatment

Diabetes currently has no known cure. However, it can be managed, particularly this one. Living a healthy and active lifestyle will reduce the symptoms greatly. Medication will still be needed and it’s expected to increase because of its progressive nature. Effective management will improve the quality of life.

It’s not only for the patient to be familiar with but also for the people they interact with regularly. When the patient has a reliable support group, it can ease the change in lifestyle as well as the emotional toll that comes with having diabetes. Diabetes has no cure but symptoms can be controlled with determined decision-making to live a healthy life.

This is where the support group comes in. Any chronic ailment or condition will undoubtedly affect the people around the afflicted person. A diabetes-definition knowledgeable support group helps encourage the patient to make the right choices for them, removing some of the barriers to a better life for them and their loved ones.