May 23, 2024

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects how your body regulates blood sugar. Blood sugar, also called glucose, is your body’s main source of energy. It comes from the food you eat and circulates in your bloodstream. Insulin, a hormone produced by your pancreas, acts like a key that unlocks your cells, allowing glucose to enter and be used for energy.

There are two main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes: This type of diabetes occurs when your body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas. As a result, your body produces little or no insulin. Without enough insulin, glucose cannot enter your cells and builds up in your bloodstream, leading to high blood sugar levels.
  • Type 2 diabetes: This is the most common type of diabetes, affecting around 90% of people with diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, your body either develops insulin resistance, meaning your cells become less responsive to insulin, or your pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin. This also leads to high blood sugar levels.

Risk factors for diabetes

Several factors can increase your risk of developing diabetes, including:

  • Family history: Having a parent or sibling with diabetes increases your risk.
  • Weight: Being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
  • Inactivity: A sedentary lifestyle increases your risk.
  • Race/ethnicity: Certain races and ethnicities are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes.
  • Age: The risk of type 2 diabetes increases with age.
  • Gestational diabetes: Having gestational diabetes, a type of high blood sugar that develops during pregnancy, increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): Women with PCOS are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes.

Symptoms of diabetes

The symptoms of diabetes can vary depending on the type and severity of the condition. Some common symptoms include:

  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Excessive hunger
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-healing sores
  • Frequent infections

Complications of diabetes

Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage various organs in your body. Potential complications of diabetes include:

  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Nerve damage (neuropathy)
  • Kidney disease (nephropathy)
  • Eye problems (retinopathy)
  • Foot problems
  • Skin problems
  • Hearing problems
  • Sexual problems

Management of diabetes

There is no cure for diabetes, but there are ways to manage it and live a healthy life. Treatment for diabetes typically involves a combination of lifestyle changes and medications.

  • Lifestyle changes: Maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, and exercising regularly are crucial for managing diabetes.
  • Medications: Several types of medications can help control blood sugar levels, including insulin, oral medications, and injectable medications.

Living with diabetes

With proper management, people with diabetes can live long and healthy lives. It’s important to work closely with your doctor to develop a personalized treatment plan that meets your individual needs. Regular monitoring of your blood sugar levels is essential for managing diabetes.

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