Glucose is essential for brain and cellular health; however, when blood glucose levels are too high, a person may have a condition known as diabetes, which can lead to serious health problems and even premature death. The following offers insight into the causes and prevention of diabetes.
What Are the Different Types of Diabetes?
When we eat, carbohydrates are absorbed from the intestines and travel to the liver, which converts some of this food source into a sugar called glucose, which circulates in the bloodstream. This triggers the pancreas, which is located behind the stomach, to release insulin. This allows the glucose to enter the cells of your muscles and tissues where it is used as energy. Excess glucose is also stored in the liver in the form of glycogen. When your blood glucose level drops, the liver converts the glycogen back into glucose and releases it into the bloodstream to provide the energy that you need. Diabetes occurs when your body doesn’t produce insulin, is unable to produce enough insulin to keep blood glucose levels in check, or is unable to use the insulin that it produces effectively. This causes blood glucose levels to remain high, which can lead to serious health conditions, including heart disease, kidney disease, vision loss, and nerve damage. Diabetes is classified into one of the following categories based on the underlying cause:
• Type 1 diabetes
• Type 2 diabetes
• Gestational diabetes
What Are Common Type 1 Diabetes Causes and Symptoms?
Common symptoms of type 1 diabetes include:
• excessive thirst and urination
• increased hunger
• unexplained weight loss
• sores that don’t heal or frequent infections
• blurred vision
• numbness or tingling in the hands and feet that gets progressively worse.
In most cases, the symptoms of type 1 diabetes develop quite quickly. Although it can occur at any age, type 1 diabetes often develops during childhood or adolescence. The most common type 1 diabetes causes are likely a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors that trigger the body’s immune system to attack the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas.
What Treatments Are Available for Type 1 Diabetes?
Individuals with type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day in the form of injections or by wearing an insulin pump and monitoring their blood glucose level frequently. Healthy lifestyle habits, such as managing stress, eating a healthy diet, and staying physically active, can also help make sure that glucose levels stay under control.
What Are Common Type 2 Diabetes Causes and Symptoms?
Type 2 diabetes causes the same types of symptoms as type 1 diabetes; however, the symptoms tend to develop gradually. In fact, many individuals with type 2 diabetes do not even realize that they have the condition until it has progressed to the point that it causes significant health issues, such as heart trouble, blurred vision, or pain or loss of sensation in the hands and feet. Type 2 diabetes causes are typically related to lifestyle, including being overweight or obese and not being physically active. Type 2 diabetes is also often found in families and among certain racial and ethnic groups, such as African Americans, Alaska Natives, and American Indians, which may indicate a genetic predisposition. While type 1 diabetes tends to appear relatively early in life, type 2 diabetes tends to develop in adults over the age of 40.
What Are the Treatments for Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is normally managed through oral and injectable medications and lifestyle modification.
What Are Common Gestational Diabetes Causes and Symptoms?
Gestational diabetes occurs in approximately 2% to 10% of women in the United States. The condition occurs when hormone, weight gain, and other pregnancy-related changes cause the body to use insulin less effectively, which leads to an increase in blood glucose levels. In most cases, the condition resolves shortly after delivery. If not treated, gestational diabetes can cause complications for mother and baby, including:
• Increased risk for preeclampsia
• High birth weight
• Early labor
• Low neonatal blood glucose
• Increased risk of type 2 diabetes
Pregnant women can minimize their risk for gestational diabetes by receiving quality prenatal care and following their healthcare provider’s recommendations for diet and exercise.
What Should I Know About Prediabetes Symptoms and Treatment?
Prediabetes is a condition in which your blood glucose levels are elevated, but they aren’t high enough to be considered diabetes. Management of prediabetes symptoms and treatment of elevated blood glucose levels associated with prediabetes normally involves lifestyle modification.
Diabetes Management and annual physicals are two of the many services provided at our Family Medicine locations in North Carolina. Our health care providers can provide you and your family with the guidance needed to ensure you’re leading healthy lifestyles.
For a list of our clinics that offer Family Medicine, click here.
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