Living a healthy life with diabetes is entirely possible. Utah Endocrinology Associates—Diabetes Center can show you how. We take a personalized approach to your healthcare. We’ll give you the educational tools you need to learn to manage diabetes on your own. We’ll work with you to understand how your body reacts to food, exercise, insulin and other things that affect diabetes.
Diabetes is a condition in which a person has a high blood glucose (sugar) level as a result of the body either not producing enough insulin, or because the body’s cells do not properly respond to the insulin that is produced. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas which enables the cells to absorb glucose. Once in the cell, the glucose is turned into energy. If the body’s cells are unable to absorb the glucose, the glucose accumulates in the blood (hyperglycemia), leading to various potential medical complications.
There are several types of diabetes, the most common of which are:
- Type 1 Diabetes
Results from the body’s failure to produce insulin because the insulin producing cells (beta cells) in the pancreas have been destroyed by the immune system. Persons with Type 1 diabetes must inject insulin to live. It is estimated that 5-10% of Americans are diagnosed with diabetes have Type 1 diabetes. Type 1 is considered an autoimmune disease.
- Type 2 Diabetes
Is due primarily to the body not responding normally to the insulin made by the pancreas (called insulin resistance) combined with relative insulin deficiency. Most Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes have Type 2, most often as a result of obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. There is a genetic component as well.
Type 2 diabetes can be treated with diet, exercise, oral diabetes medications, insulin injections or some combination of these. In the past, type 2 diabetes was called adult onset diabetes because it usually occurred in adults over age 40. Today it is being diagnosed in children as well.
Diabetes Signs & Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of Type 1 diabetes usually develop quickly, especially in children, over a period of weeks. In babies and young children, the first indication of Type 1 diabetes may be a yeast infection that causes a severe diaper rash that’s far worse than the common red, puffy and tender skin rash. In young children and infants, lethargy, dehydration and abdominal pain also may indicate Type 1 diabetes. Once the systems appear, a blood test will generally reveal very high blood glucose.
Type 2 diabetes can easily be picked up during a routine screening exam and blood test but it can frequently go undiagnosed for years unless a physician draws a blood sample to check the blood glucose. In the early stages of Type 2 diabetes, people experience few to no noticeable signs of the disease. As time goes by and the untreated blood glucose continues to rise, symptoms begin to present themselves.
If you are over 40 years of age or have parents or siblings with diabetes, be sure to have your blood glucose checked routinely.
The most common symptoms of undiagnosed Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are:
- Extreme thirst and a greater need to urinate – As excess glucose (sugar) builds up in the bloodstream, fluid is pulled from the tissues. The loss of fluid makes the person thirsty. As a result, the person may drink and urinate more than usual.
- Frequent hunger – Without enough insulin to move sugar into the cells (Type 1) or insulin resistance prohibiting the insulin from entering the cells (Type 2), the muscles and organs become depleted for energy. This triggers intense hunger.
- Weight loss – Despite eating more than usual to relieve hunger, rapid weight loss sometimes occurs. Without the energy glucose supplies, muscle tissues and fat stores simply shrink. Unexplained weight loss is often one of the first symptoms to be noticed.
- Blurred vision – If the blood glucose is too high, fluid may be pulled from the lenses of the eyes, affecting the person’s ability to focus clearly.
- Feeling tired – If the cells are deprived of sugar, the person may become tired and lethargic.
- Slow-healing sores, yeast infections, urinary tract infections, etc. – High blood glucose reduces the immune system’s ability to fight infections.