What is diabetes?
Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in Europe. It is a disease whereby the body can no longer balance blood sugar levels by itself. This is because the body does not have enough of the hormone insulin. The body also no longer responds well to the insulin it does create, or it no longer produces any insulin at all. Insulin controls blood sugar levels. Want to know more about diabetes? Then read on to find out!
Types of diabetes
The most common type of diabetes is type 2: nine out of ten people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. They have too little insulin in the body and also do not respond well to it.
There are also people whose immune system attacks the cells that make insulin. This is due to a problem in the cells that make insulin. If this is the case, then you have type 1 diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes have to measure their blood sugar levels every day, inject insulin or wear a pump. When it comes to eating, they cannot take even so much as a bite without first calculating how much insulin is needed. Read more about the differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Causes of diabetes
Glucose is a kind of sugar, and the hormone insulin plays a key role in maintaining the amount of glucose in the blood. This explains why the full name for diabetes is diabetes mellitus (“mellitus” being Latin for “honeyed” or “sweet”). Insulin is made in the pancreas and ensures that glucose is absorbed into the tissues. Still today, we do not know exactly what causes diabetes.
People are more likely to get type 2 diabetes if they are overweight, do little exercise, or if it runs in the family. But not everyone can prevent themselves from getting type 2 diabetes. There are also people who live a perfectly healthy life and are still diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes starts with a predisposition to type 1 diabetes. This can also happen even if there is no history of diabetes in the family. The cells that make insulin then get out of balance, causing the immune system to attack the cells that make insulin.
Many of the symptoms of diabetes are similar to things that everyone is affected by. For example, tiredness and lack of energy. Often people do not realise for years that they have diabetes because not everyone suffers from clear symptoms associated with diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes symptoms
Type 2 diabetes is the most common, but it is also the most difficult to diagnose. These are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes:
- extreme thirst and a dry mouth
- frequent need to urinate
- irritable, red or stinging eyes; blurred, double or poor vision
- wounds that take longer than normal to heal
- shortness of breath
- pain in the legs when walking
- recurring infections, like bladder infections
Type 1 diabetes symptoms
Type 1 diabetes is usually quicker to diagnose. Someone with untreated type 1 diabetes will take on a lot of fluids, lose weight and suddenly feel so sick that they need to go to a doctor. Some of the symptoms of type 1 diabetes are:
- extreme thirst
- frequent need to urinate
- unexplained weight loss
- feeling sick or queasy
- increased appetite, or none at all
- blurred vision
- nausea or vomiting
Recognising the symptoms of diabetes
Are these symptoms familiar to you? Then it is important to visit your doctor. A simple test of just one drop of blood will confirm whether or not you have diabetes. Without treatment, you will continue to have too much sugar in the blood which can cause damage to your blood vessels in the long run. If your blood sugar levels are extremely high you can become seriously ill, pass out or even end up in a coma. So don’t delay in getting a diagnosis!
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