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Symptoms, types, causes and treatment

What is diabetes?

Diabetes has become a common disease over the last two decades and is increasingly attributed to lifestyle and diet. While information about diabetes is readily available today, due to the long-term consequences of the disease, it is important to consult a professional.

Diabetes is a chronic medical condition in which the inability to use the hormone insulin to break down glucose in a form that can be absorbed by the body’s cells causes high levels of glucose in the body. Glucose is the body’s main source of energy and is broken down from the food we eat. Insulin helps the body break down glucose in a way that allows cells to transport this glucose in a form that can be used to provide energy to the body. Increased blood sugar is one of the characteristic symptoms of this disease.

Pancreas is a gland located in the abdomen and has endocrine and exocrine functions. Some of the hormones produced are secreted directly into the bloodstream, while some are also secreted in different channels. Enzymes are secreted by the pancreas into the small intestine. There, the decomposition of the food that has left the stomach continues. The pancreas also produces the hormone insulin and releases it into the bloodstream, where it regulates the amount of glucose or sugar in the body. Problems with insulin control can lead to diabetes. In cases where the pancreas is unable to produce insulin, the glucose level in the body remains unused and the blood carries a large amount of glucose in the body, causing a diabetic to experience various symptoms of diabetes.

diabetes symptoms

Although the symptoms vary according to the type of diabetes, many of them are similar, especially in the early stages. A major difference is the rate of onset of various symptoms in type 1 diabetes, which is higher than in type 2.

Fatigue: Because insulin is necessary to help absorb glucose in the blood, and in diabetics insulin is either not produced or used, there is not enough glucose to provide energy to the cells. While the blood sugar level in such patients is high, since there is low uptake of glucose by the cells, the cells tend to get tired.

Hunger: Despite eating larger amounts, diabetics are likely to starve because the body does not register nutrition due to lack of sugar processing. Diabetic patients are often hungry and tired despite regular meals, and this is a sign of lack of insulin action in the body.

Urinary frequency: Since blood sugar is high in diabetes, the body’s renal system is unable to reabsorb large amounts of water during the digestion process. This causes a large amount of water to be expelled as urine, thereby increasing the urge to urinate more frequently. The frequency of urination in a diabetic person may be twice or more than a normal person without diabetes. It is better not to ignore such a symptom because it is often a definite sign of diabetes.

Thirst: Frequent urination causes the diabetic body to lose water more quickly, so the patient is constantly thirsty. Persistent thirst is a common symptom of kidney failure or diabetes and should not be ignored. It is more worrisome if the condition does not subside after some time and is present in a relatively healthy person.

Dry mouth: Lack of water absorption by the digestive system causes dry mouth and bad breath, and this is often accompanied by a feeling of thirst. Despite regular consumption of water, the body in cases of diabetes may easily feel dehydrated at all times.

Dry skin: Flaky or itchy skin that has not been moisturized despite the use of topical ointments may indicate dehydration due to diabetes. Dehydrated skin is itchy and scaly, an uncomfortable side effect for many diabetics.

Blurred vision: Long-term effects of diabetes include blurred vision and often glaucoma. Due to the inability of the body to retain fluids and the lack of water in the body, it changes the shape of the lens and, as a result, blurs the patient’s vision.

Slow healing of cuts: The nervous system is negatively affected in the case of diabetes, and wounds in diabetic patients heal more slowly than average due to the body’s inability to assist in the healing process.

Weight loss: Despite regular meals, the body may not be able to use nutrition and starts burning fat in the absence of sugar. This issue can lead to unhealthy weight loss problems and is often seen in diabetic patients.

Causes of diabetes

The function of the hormone insulin is to transfer sugar from the blood into the cells of the body, which is broken down by these cells to obtain the energy necessary for the body’s daily tasks. In the case of diabetes, the body either lacks insulin or is unable to effectively use the insulin made in the pancreas, leaving a large amount of residual sugar in the blood, causing high blood sugar and diabetes symptoms. If left untreated, hyperglycemia causes severe damage to the kidney system, eyes, and other body organs and may be fatal for the patient.

Different types of diabetes have different causes, but most are related to hormonal changes that affect insulin production or function. For example, in type 1 diabetes, insulin-producing cells in the pancreas are destroyed through autoimmune activity, leaving the body with a lack of insulin to metabolize sugar. In type 2 diabetes, the body may become resistant to the effects of insulin at the cellular level, resulting in the cells being unable to absorb sugar from the bloodstream. Hormonal changes related to pregnancy may also cause diabetes in some people, especially if weight gain during pregnancy has become an issue.
Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetic factors and its onset is observed at an older age. This disease is also known as juvenile diabetes and requires regular medical care. If it is known that a family member suffers from type 1 diabetes, it is necessary to monitor the symptoms that may indicate the onset of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is caused by lifestyle and diet concerns and is more likely to develop if the disease is passed down genetically. Excessive consumption of processed foods, poor nutrition, high sugar in the diet, inactivity and obesity are often associated with type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes risk factors
Factors that put a person at greater risk of diabetes include:

Inactivity and lack of exercise
Family history of type 2 diabetes
Previous history of gestational diabetes
high blood pressure
High cholesterol or triglycerides
polycystic ovarian disorder (PCOD)
Not having a balanced diet
Age; People over the age of 40 are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes
Today, a large population is at risk of diabetes, and throughout developing countries, this disease is becoming more common and affects up to a quarter of the elderly population. Diabetics are also prone to other health disorders, so they become more vulnerable in terms of health. In order to prevent the disease, high risk factors should be taken into account in regular examinations.
Steps to prevent diabetes
Research has shown that higher amounts of insulin are likely to cause insulin resistance and the development of type 2 diabetes in patients with genetic predispositions. Prevention of diabetes is suggested through diet and lifestyle management, and a low-carb diet is the basic step suggested to prevent the later complications of diabetes in order to reduce the level of hyperglycemia in the body. Exercise to lower blood sugar levels specifically and prevent obesity may also prevent type 2 diabetes. It is possible to prevent diabetes if the blood sugar level in the body is higher than average but not as high as diabetes.
Some of the main steps to prevent diabetes are:

Restrictions on alcohol consumption
Limit foods with high sugar content, including sweets and soft drinks
Limiting foods containing a lot of carbohydrates such as potatoes, white bread and rice
Cut out processed foods
Quit Smoking
Sports programs include regular activities
Regular walking in situations where a person needs to sit for a long time
A change in diet is the main factor in preventing diabetes. No activity can reverse hormonal damage once the disease has started, although it may help control it. In diets high in refined sugar and highly processed foods, the body needs to produce larger amounts of insulin to absorb blood sugar. Cutting out such foods will go a long way in preventing the onset of diabetes, especially in people who are already prone to the disease.

Exercise has been shown to increase the insulin sensitivity of cells, helping the body to more efficiently absorb sugar from the bloodstream. High-intensity exercise, rather than gentle walking, has been shown to greatly increase cell sensitivity and help prevent diabetes. However, care must be taken not to counteract the effect of exercise through the consumption of processed foods. Also, if diabetes is suspected, it becomes necessary to maintain a regular exercise program, because the effect of exercises is not enough and the body needs regular activity to maintain cellular sensitivity to insulin.
Diagnosis of diabetes
Diabetes is diagnosed by doctors through fasting blood sugar test. Another way to determine diabetic conditions is through the A1C test, which is also known as the glycated hemoglobin test, and there is no need to fast.

A1C: This test measures the amount of sugar bound to hemoglobin, and the results show the average amount of sugar for the past two or three months. An A1C level of 6.5% in two tests performed on two separate days indicates diabetes, and at this stage the symptoms of the disease have already begun and require definitive medical intervention. An A1C level in the range of 5.7-6.4% indicates prediabetes. An A1C test of less than 5.7% is considered normal.

Fasting blood sugar test: This test is performed on an empty stomach without eating or drinking anything for at least eight hours. Normal fasting blood sugar is less than 100 mg/dL. Diabetes is diagnosed if the blood sugar level is more than 126 mg/dL, and the range of pre-diabetes falls between 100-125 mg/dL.
Random blood sugar test: Regardless of the fasting test, a blood sample that shows a blood sugar level above 200 mg/dL on two separate testing occasions is indicative of diabetes.

Oral glucose tolerance test: This test detects the level of glucose metabolism by a person. This requires an overnight fast, after which fasting blood sugar levels are measured. After this, a sweet liquid is consumed and the blood sugar level is tested periodically for the next two hours.
A blood sugar level below 140 mg/dL is normal, while a level above 200 mg/dL after two hours indicates diabetes. Sugar between 140 and 199 mg/dL indicates prediabetes.
Treatment of diabetes
Different types of diabetes require different treatment methods. These procedures are often offered depending on the family history of diabetes, the patient’s overall health, and financial considerations. In addition to medication, diet and lifestyle changes are a major part of the regimen needed to treat diabetes.
Diabetes treatment also requires constant monitoring of blood sugar levels and keeping them within the range recommended by a medical professional along with lifestyle changes. Diet prevents rapid fluctuations in blood sugar levels and allows the body to maintain a stable level of glucose in the body, making it easier for the drug to work. If the doctor suspects type 1 diabetes, this means that the pancreas is not able to produce enough insulin to metabolize blood sugar, and insulin administration via injection or an insulin pump is required. Depending on the exact diagnosis, the patient may use one or a combination of multiple doses of rapid-acting, regular (short-acting), intermediate-acting, long-acting, or extra-long-acting insulin. This treatment method is also accompanied by exercise, changes in general lifestyle and dietary modification. This type of diabetes requires monitoring the blood sugar level several times a day and determining the type of insulin to be used in case of combined administration.
Medication for type 2 diabetes may be necessary at an advanced stage. However, in many diabetic patients, a combination of diet and active lifestyle choices is sufficient to treat the disease. These drugs work in different ways and include drugs that increase the production of insulin in the pancreas, decrease the absorption of sugar in the intestines, increase the effectiveness of insulin, decrease the production of sugar by affecting the function of the liver, which prevents the reabsorption of sugar by the system. They prevent kidney or artificial insulin injection. Often, a combination of these drugs is used to treat diabetic patients, and there are a number of drugs in each of the above categories.
Complications of Diabetes
If left untreated, diabetes is a very severe disease that may cause multiple organ failure and eventually death. Some of the complications of diabetes include:
Cardiovascular diseases: Cardiovascular function is immediately affected by the increase in blood sugar levels in the body, and diabetics are more prone to heart diseases than normal people.
Kidney Disease: High levels of blood sugar, like diabetes, can severely damage the kidneys and lead to irreversible damage. If the diabetes has reached an advanced stage, the patient may need dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Nerve damage: Numbness in the limbs or feet indicates nerve damage from untreated diabetes. The capillaries in the nerves are negatively affected and lead to tingling, spasmodic pain or numbness. Men may be affected by erectile dysfunction if they have nerve damage.
Retinopathy or Glaucoma: Eye diseases such as retinal damage or cataracts and glaucoma are aggravated by diabetes because the optic nerve, retina, or shape of the cornea may be damaged by high blood sugar levels.
Skin conditions: Dehydration levels in the body can make the skin dry and itchy and vulnerable to bacterial and fungal infections, including eczema.
Hearing problems: Hearing impairment due to nerve damage is a complication that results from advanced diabetes and is especially common in men.
Mental health conditions: Alzheimer’s disease and depression are both more common in diabetic patients than in normal people.

Gestational diabetes, or diabetes that occurs especially due to hormonal changes during pregnancy, may lead to complications:
Older babies: Excess glucose passing through the placenta to affect the baby is a sign of diabetes. This type of birth usually requires a C-section.
Low blood sugar in babies: Some babies of diabetic mothers may be born with low blood sugar because their insulin production may be affected. This can be treated with glucose solutions and regular feeding and may not require further treatment.
Children whose mothers have diabetes are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in adulthood.
Recovery and aftercare
Lifestyle changes are a major part of diabetes recovery. Most of these changes require regular medical check-ups to ensure the necessary effects on the patient. In addition to increasing the dietary intake of fresh fruits, raw vegetables and nuts, exercise is recommended. In some cases, temporary layoffs or job changes may be necessary. Regular activity is a necessity against a sedentary lifestyle. Losing weight around the abdomen is especially important for diabetic patients, and overall weight loss is also recommended.

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