Welcome to the Diabetes Health Channel by eMedTV. Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the body cannot properly convert food into energy. There are three main types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes. Over time, the high blood glucose levels caused by diabetes can lead to several health problems and complications. Effectively managing diabetes is critical to help minimize the risks of future complications.
How Do the Types of Diabetes Differ?
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, meaning that the body's own immune system is destroying the cells that produce insulin. A person who has type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, especially in people over the age of 40. About 90 to 95 percent of people with diabetes have type 2. Type 2 diabetes is associated with:
- Older age
- Family history of diabetes
- Previous history of gestational diabetes
- Physical inactivity
Gestational diabetes develops only during pregnancy.
What Causes Diabetes?
In type 1 diabetes, the cells in the pancreas produce too little insulin or no insulin at all.
Scientists have identified risk factors that increase the chances of developing type 2 diabetes; however, the specific causes of this type of diabetes are unknown.
The causes of diabetes in pregnant women are linked to hormonal changes and weight gain associated with pregnancy.
What Are the Risk Factors for Developing Diabetes?
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include age, high blood pressure, an inactive lifestyle, and being overweight. Other risk factors include family history and ethnicity. If you are younger than 45, overweight, and have one or more of the diabetes risk factors, you should consider being tested for type 2 diabetes.
What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes?
Symptoms associated with type 1 diabetes usually develop over a short period of time and include increased thirst and urination, constant hunger, and blurred vision. Symptoms of type 2 diabetes develop more gradually and are not as noticeable as in type 1 diabetes. Common symptoms of type 2 diabetes include frequent infections, slow-healing wounds, and frequent urination.
How Is Diabetes Treated?
The goal of diabetes treatment is to keep blood glucose levels as close to the normal range as possible. The treatment for diabetes includes healthy eating, exercising, and taking insulin daily (for people with type 1 diabetes). Self management is a key component of treating diabetes and includes meal planning, planned physical activity, and blood glucose monitoring. Medications may also be prescribed.
How Can Diabetes Be Prevented?
Diabetes prevention strategies include eating healthier and adding more physical activity to your lifestyle. Other aspects of diabetes prevention involve nurturing your mind, body, and soul.
What Are the Complications Associated With Diabetes?
Complications resulting from diabetes can affect almost every part of the body, including the heart, eyes, blood vessels, teeth, and skin. Examples of long-term diabetes complications include blindness, kidney failure, stroke, and sexual problems. Diabetes complications can even lead to loss of life. Often, long-term complications can be prevented or delayed by keeping blood glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides in a normal or close-to-normal range.