Understanding diabetes begins with learning about the way glucose is processed by the body. Insulin is a pancreatic hormone that the pancreas secretes into the bloodstream. The insulin circulates, allowing for sugar to enter into the cells. The secretion of insulin drops as blood sugar levels drop. Glucose is necessary for cell health, but too much glucose can be a bad thing. In type 1 diabetes, the immune system is fighting the cells responsible for producing insulin, so that there is not enough insulin to transport blood glucose into the blood stream. This form of diabetes likely results from environmental factors as well as genetic susceptibility.
Prediabetes, which leads to type 2 diabetes, involves the development of a resistance to the way that insulin acts. The pancreas eventually becomes unable to create enough insulin to overcome the resistance. As a result, sugar builds up in the blood stream rather than entering into the cells. All the causes for type 2 diabetes are as yet unknown, but environmental factors and genetics do play a role, as does being overweight in many circumstances.
The potential complications of diabetes are enormous when the disease is left without treatment. Some of the complications that can occur resulting from untreated diabetes include: cardiovascular disease, nerve damage or neuropathy, kidney damage, foot damage, eye damage or retinopathy, skin conditions, mouth conditions, Alzheimers disease, osteoporosis and cancer. Because these complications are so severe, seeking help from a professional physician is absolutely essential in preventing them from occurring.
The symptoms of diabetes are dependent on the level of elevation for the blood sugar. Some people may not initially experience any symptoms while others may experience rapidly progressing symptoms. Some of the most prevalent symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes include frequent urination, increased thirst, unexplained weight loss, extreme hunger, blurred vision, fatigue, presence of ketones within the urine, sores that heal slowly, high blood pressure, fatigue and frequent infections.
The most common test for diabetes is the glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test, which indicates an average blood sugar level across two to three months. When the A1C level is higher than 6.5 percent, this indicates that the patient has diabetes. Random blood sugar tests, fasting blood sugar tests and glucose challenge tests are also beneficial in testing for diabetes as well as determining what form of diabetes the patient has.
There are several approaches to treating diabetes, but they focus on maintaining good health and wellbeing rather than curing the condition. While there is no cure for diabetes, patients can take a number of steps to improve their outlook. These include using insulin therapy, oral medications to improve insulin function, healthy diet and exercise. For many patients, simply improving diet, exercise and overall health will have a profound and positive impact on diabetes control. Working with a team of specialists is often ideal for treating diabetes including endocrinologists or diabetes specialists, nutritionists, personal trainers and general practitioners.