Nowadays, most are aware of this disorder because of its effects on the human body. It is a disease that has been taken for granted until it becomes too late. The disorder has been linked to heart problems, high blood pressure, blindness, and more. Diabetes results from higher than normal levels of glucose in the blood. This is usually caused by problems controlling the hormone insulin. This hormone produced in the pancreas by the islets of Langerhans cells regulates the amount of glucose in the blood. The lack of insulin causes of diabetes.
Diabetes has often been referred to as the “silent killer” since people easily miss the symptoms. In simpler words, those who have it don’t even know that they have it until it hits them. Insulin is vital to get the glucose sugar in the blood to the cells of the body to be converted to energy. When insulin is absent or when it is not functioning normally, sugar will start accumulating in the blood raising the sugar level.
There are two types of diabetes. Type 1, also known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes. It is a chronic condition where the pancreas produces little or no insulin. This deficiency is caused by the body’s immune system attacking part of its pancreas. Scientists have yet to find an explanation for this immune-system behavior. Symptoms of Type 1 usually develop sooner and at a younger age.
With Type 2 diabetes, the signs and symptoms can be minimal and can go undetected for long periods of time. This causes the problem to worsen which can lead to long-term damage to the body. Symptoms of Type 2 usually show themselves in later years as against those with Type 1.
Diabetes can reveal itself in different ways. Certain behaviors of one having the disorder can be noticed, making him a candidate as a diabetic. Being constantly sick, an unquenchable thirst, urinating very often, having cuts, and bruises that never heal. These are all diabetes symptoms that need to be addressed.
People should have some basic knowledge of diabetes as it is a prevalent disorder affecting millions. If they should experience the symptoms, they need to visit their doctor and have themselves tested. A simple blood sugar test, which takes very minimal time, can immediately inform you if you have the disorder. An early proactive decision can decrease the risk of further diseases caused by diabetes. Some of these are heart disease, amputations, kidney failure, blindness, and other grave complications.
Different types of Diabetes
A lot of people know that there are 2 different types of diabetes. Although different from each other, they do have some similarities, especially regarding symptoms. Here’s a more detailed look at Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes:
This diabetes is also called juvenile diabetes. It involves a total lack of insulin and affects five to ten individuals per hundred. In this type, the immune system of the body destroys the cells in the pancreas that release insulin. This will eventually lead to the elimination of insulin production. And without this hormone, body cells will not be able to absorb the sugar they need for energy production. It usually affects children and young adults.
This type is also called non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset diabetes. It involves the presence of very little insulin, making it ineffective to deal with blood sugar. It develops at any age but is most common during adulthood. Recent observations, however, indicate a rise of Type 2 diabetes in children. The disorder affects 90 to 95 persons out of a hundred diabetic persons. With this type, the body becomes insulin-resistant, a condition where it cannot use the insulin the proper way. As this gets worse, the pancreas will be producing less of the hormone leading to insulin deficiency.
Frequent hunger accompanied by a shaky feeling
Maintaining blood sugar levels creates some challenge for your body. The intake of high-carbohydrate foods will result in the production of more insulin. Excessive insulin will cause body cells to convert glucose to energy, and this will result in a drop of glucose in the blood. And a drop of glucose will make a person feel shaky and hungry for carbohydrates and sugars that will increase the glucose levels again. It’s like an unending vicious cycle.
Constant fatigue and frequent bad moods
It is natural for everyone to experience tiredness. But tiredness or fatigue about diabetes is a different thing. This diabetic symptom means that the foods a person is eating for energy aren’t being broken down or being converted into energy. Therefore, he is not getting any fuel to pep you up. Instead, the person will feel sluggish, moody, sleepy, short-tempered and grumpy.
These symptoms may be mistaken for depression as the symptoms are practically the same. However, the depression factor is eliminated once the blood sugar levels are brought back to normal. It is now more of a diabetic condition, where high sugar levels caused by insulin deficiency are causing the sluggishness.
Another conspicuous symptom of diabetes is the need to imbibe liquids more than the normal. Consequently, these would lead to often urination. A diabetic, even after drinking liquids will always feel parched. The preference and urge to sugar-packed drinks will just saturate the bloodstream with excess sugar. This could lead to the problem all over again.
Changes in urination
With diabetics, bathroom breaks become more frequent. With the body being unable to break down the glucose into your bloodstream, a person will start to build up excess sugar in his blood. The body will naturally get rid of these excess sugars by flushing it out of the body as urine and ergo, more visits to the toilet bowl. Many patients are not aware of this condition. Therefore self-observation is important. If urinating keep one up all night and is affecting the sleeping hours, then there is a great chance that the person may be suffering from the disorder.
By the way, high levels of sugar in the urine can become a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast which could and eventually cause some infections. Recurring infections must be paid attention to as it can be a symptom of diabetes. With women who contact such infections, diabetic tests are performed.
Diabetes can cause blurry visions. In the early stages of diabetes, there is an accumulation of glucose in the eye causing the lens to lose focus. The eye will temporarily change its shape. This doesn’t mean that a person is going blind, not yet, anyway. If blood sugar levels are stabilized, in a few weeks, the eyes will adjust, and everything will feel normal again.
Cuts and bruises are part of life. People get these injuries and usually would expect them to heal in due time. With diabetics, there seems to be a much longer time for their wounds and bruises to heal, if at all. When sugar levels are high, the immune system, as well as the body processes that are involved in healing, cannot function. And this is a major symptom for diabetics. For anyone who observes this, visit the doctor and get a diabetes test.
Diabetes, when not treated, can lead to more complications. The disorder can cause nerve damage which might result in numbness in the extremities. Over time, the damage can progress and damage to the body’s nerves; a condition called diabetic neuropathy. On mild cases of diabetes, one may not feel the symptoms at all. But with the severe ones, it can cause numbness and pain in the extremities, especially the feet. This condition is common with people who have had the Type 2 disease for 25 years or more.
The most common observable symptoms of diabetes occur on the skin. This is characterized by rashes, discolored patches, blisters, and infections. And of course, as previously discussed, the inability of cuts and bruises on the skin to heal.
Being overweight could be a risk factor for diabetes. But losing weight can also be a symptom of diabetes. For one, a person loses water from constant urination. And second, he also loses calories when he urinates because he doesn’t absorb all the calories from sugar in the blood. Losing water and important calories will certainly make anyone lose weight. But if one learns that he has the disorder, the person should start controlling his blood sugar and therefore may start to gain weight again.
Other common symptoms of type 1 diabetes
Above are the common signs that most people usually ignore. This is mainly because these symptoms aren’t as debilitating as the others. However, there are other symptoms of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. First, let’s go through the most common symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes:
- Having a dried mouth and always feeling thirsty.
- Changes in the appetite. Having the urge to eat again even after having recently There are sluggishness and trouble in concentrating.
- Always feeling fatigued and tired despite having slept adequately.
- Blurred and worsening visions.
- Slower healing rate of wounds, cuts, and bruises. Frequent infections and skin dryness.
- Inexplicable weight changes, like losing weight despite consuming the same quantity of food. When the body cannot process glucose, which releases it in urine, the body will find alternative sources of energy. Usually, the body takes it from the muscles and fats.
- Heavy breathing which is also known as Kussmaul respirations.
- It could potentially lead to a loss of consciousness.
- Pain, tingling sensations or numbness in the body extremities caused by nerve damage.
Other common symptoms of type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes share almost the same symptoms as type 1 except that Type 2 normally occurs later in one’s life and are less serious. The disorder starts to develop in middle life or older ages, and the development is gradual and in stages. Without treatment, the condition will worsen and may lead to other very serious diseases. Besides the symptoms above, symptoms or signs of Type 2 diabetes can also include the following:
- Chronically itchy and dry skin.
- Frequent infections around the groin area (vagina, urinary tract, groin) caused by the presence of glucose in the urine.
- Dark skin patches and silky skin in the creases and folds of the body (such as in the neck and armpits). This is known as acanthosis nigricans.
- Gaining weight even without changing the diet.
- Swelling, numbness, pain, tingling sensations in the extremities.
- Sexual Dysfunction is another symptom. This includes losing one’s sex drive and other reproductive issues. It may also manifest in the dryness of the vaginal area in women and erectile dysfunction in men.
What happens when a person ignores the symptoms of diabetes?
Aside from all these symptoms that the disorder can cause, it can also lead to complications. And these complications can lead to other more serious symptoms. This is the reason why an early detection along with treatment of diabetes is very important. It will highly decrease the danger of developing any complications. Such complications are cardiovascular problems, nerve damage, further weight gain, skin infections, inflammation, and a lot more.
So how likely is it that one would develop complications from diabetes? Whether a person will develop drastic symptoms or severe complications from diabetes will depend upon several factors:
- How well a person can control his blood sugar levels.
- How well a person can maintain his blood pressure.
- How long a person has had diabetes.
- A person’s family history or family genetics.
- A person’s lifestyle: exercise, diet, stress levels, sleeping time.
Type 1 diabetes cannot be ignored as its symptoms appear quickly and would need immediate medical attention. Ignoring the symptoms of Type 1 will lead to more severe health problems. It might even develop into diabetic ketoacidosis. This is a dangerous condition as it may result in a coma that’s potentially fatal.
Most people who suffer from Type 1 diabetes are diagnosed in childhood or early adulthood. However, the symptoms are same for all ages. When Type 1 occurs during adulthood, the symptoms may not come as quickly as in children. This could mean that treatment of Type 1 in adults may be overdue.
Type 2 diabetes is not as easy to detect because it develops at a slower pace. In its early stages, it may not even be diagnosed at all. Nevertheless, if untreated, Type 2 can affect key organs, including the heart, eyes, kidneys, nerves, and blood vessels. An early diagnosis of the disease and putting the blood sugar levels under control are crucial. These can prevent any complications from happening.