Symptoms, Causes, and Diagnosis of Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic, long-lasting health condition that affects how the body turns food into energy and causes high blood glucose levels.

This occurs when the body either does not produce enough insulin or does not use the insulin produced as effectively as it should. Excessive blood sugar remains in the bloodstream when there is insufficient insulin or when cells stop responding to insulin and can lead to serious health issues such as vision loss, heart disease, and kidney disease over time.

Taking diabetes medication as needed, receiving diabetes self-management education and support, and keeping health care appointments can help to lessen the impact of diabetes on your life.

Types of Diabetes

There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant).

  • Type 1 Diabetes: Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune reaction (the body accidentally attacks itself) that restricts the body from producing insulin. Type 1 diabetes affects approximately 5-10% of all diabetics. Type 1 diabetes symptoms frequently appear quickly. This is commonly diagnosed in children, teenagers, and young adults.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: With type 2 diabetes, the body does not use insulin well and cannot maintain normal blood sugar levels. It takes years to develop and is usually diagnosed in adults. Because the symptoms are not noticeable, it is critical to have blood sugar tested. Type 2 diabetes can be avoided or delayed by adopting healthy lifestyle changes such as losing weight, eating nutritious foods, and exercising regularly.
  • Gestational Diabetes: Pregnant women who have never had diabetes can develop gestational diabetes. The baby may be at greater risk of health problems if the mother has gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes usually clears up after the baby is born, but it increases the risk of later developing type 2 diabetes. The baby has a higher chance of becoming obese as a child or adolescent with type 2 diabetes later in life.
Diabetes Types
  • Prediabetes: This is the stage preceding Type 2 diabetes. In prediabetes, the blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as having Type 2 diabetes.

Symptoms of Diabetes

If you experience any of the following diabetes symptoms, consult your doctor about having your blood sugar tested:

  • Blurred vision
  • Increased thirst
  • Numbness in the hands or feet
  • Weak, tired feeling
  • Unplanned weight loss
  • Dry mouth
  • Frequent urination
  • Frequent unexplained infections
  • Slow-healing sores or cuts
  • Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes: Type 1 diabetes patients may also experience nausea, vomiting, or stomach pains. Type 1 diabetes symptoms can manifest in a matter of weeks or months and can be severe. Type 1 diabetes typically begins in childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood, however it can occur at any age.
  • Genetics: A family history of certain medical disorders might raise the chance of developing cataracts.
Diabetes Complication
  • Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes: Type 2 diabetes symptoms can take years to appear. Some people experience no symptoms at all. Type 2 diabetes most commonly affects adults, but it is becoming more common in children and teenagers. Because symptoms can be difficult to detect, it is critical to understand the risk factors for type 2 diabetes. If you face any of these diabetes symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor
  • Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes: Gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) is usually asymptomatic. Between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy, the pregnant woman should be tested for gestational diabetes. Medication changes can be made to protect your health and the health of your baby if necessary.

When to see a doctor?

If a person has high blood sugar levels or symptoms of high blood sugar, such as excessive urination (peeing), he or she should see a doctor. If the symptoms are severe, the doctor may refer the patient to a specialist, such as an endocrinologist or a diabetes expert.

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Diabetes, regardless of type, is caused by having too much glucose circulating in the bloodstream. However, the cause of your high blood glucose levels varies depending on the type of diabetes.

  • Causes of Type 1 diabetes: This is a disease of the immune system. Insulin-producing cells in the pancreas are attacked and destroyed by the body. Glucose accumulates in the bloodstream if insulin is not present to allow glucose into the cells. A virus can also cause an immune system attack.
  • Cause of Type 2 Diabetes and Prediabetes: The cells in the body do not allow insulin to work as it should to allow glucose into the cells. Insulin resistance has developed in the body's cells. The pancreas seems unable to keep up and produce sufficient insulin to overcome this resistance. Glucose levels in the bloodstream rise.
  • Cause of Gestational Diabetes: During pregnancy, hormones produced by the placenta make the body's cells more resistant to insulin. The pancreas cannot to produce enough insulin to overcome this resistance. There can be an excess of glucose in the bloodstream.

Risk Factors

  • Type 1 Diabetes: An immune response can be the cause of type 1 diabetes (the body attacks itself by mistake). The risk factors for type 1 diabetes are not as clear as they are for type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. Risk factors include
    • Family history Having a type 1 diabetes to parent, brother, or sister.
    • Age Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, but it is most common in children, teenagers, and young adults
  • Type 2 Diabetes: An individual is at risk for type 2 diabetes if they:
    • Are overweight
    • Have prediabetes
    • Have a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes
    • Are 45 years or older
    • Have ever had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
    • Are physically active less
    • Have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
    • Proven lifestyle changes can help to avoid or delay type 2 diabetes. These include losing weight if you are overweight, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly.
  • Gestational Diabetes: A person is at risk for gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant) if they:
    • Are overweight
    • Had gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy
    • Are more than 25 years old
    • Have a hormone disorder, like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
    • Have a family history of type 2 diabetes
Diabetes Treatment

Dos and Don’ts

Healthy eating is the keystone of diabetes treatment. A diabetic can often manage the condition through diet and exercise. When a diabetic patient ignores this critical aspect of diabetes management, his or her blood sugars become uncontrolled.

When you have diabetes, sticking to a set of diet "Do's" and "Don'ts" makes it easier to manage your blood sugar levels. Follow the dietary guidelines below to manage your diabetes and blood sugar levels.

Do’s Don’ts
Have a balanced diet Skip a meal
Opt for skinless chicken, fish, rajma, moong and soya beans Have processed foods and meats
Eat diet low in glycemic index Exercise on an empty or full stomach
Eat more whole wheat bread and rotis, brown rice, and oats Miss your medication and take stress
Go for unflavoured, low-fat dahi, milk and paneer Take full-fat dairy products

Diabetes is a serious medical condition and controlling blood sugar levels with a healthy diet is an essential part of managing it. Always follow your doctor's or registered dietitian's dietary recommendations, and consult with them if you're unsure about what's best for you.

Diabetes Care at Medicover Hospitals

Medicover’s team of Diabetes Experts, Dieticians, Endocrinologists, Exercise Management Consultants, Counselors and Diabetes Educators provide an effective way to manage the condition and prevent and treat the complications. Our Diabetes Specialists also help with lifestyle changes and in coping with the emotional challenges that this chronic condition brings. Stay connected to our holistic diabetes care at all times with a unique blend of medical and emotional care.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a persistent health condition that disrupts the way your body handles glucose (sugar), resulting in elevated levels of sugar in the bloodstream. This condition arises when the pancreas fails to generate sufficient insulin (known as Type 1 diabetes) or when the body's cells become unresponsive to insulin (known as Type 2 diabetes).

2. What are the common types of diabetes?

The prevalent variations of diabetes include Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes. An autoimmune response within the body causes type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is commonly linked to lifestyle elements, and gestational diabetes manifests exclusively during pregnancy.

3. What are the symptoms of diabetes?

Common indicators encompass heightened thirst, frequent urination, unexplained loss of weight, persistent fatigue, blurred eyesight, sluggish wound healing, and an upsurge in appetite.

4. How is diabetes diagnosed?

Diabetes is diagnosed through blood tests, including fasting blood sugar, oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), and HbA1c levels. Your doctor will determine the appropriate test based on your symptoms and risk factors.

5. Can diabetes be prevented?

While Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, Type 2 diabetes can often be prevented or postponed through lifestyle changes like maintaining a healthy diet, consistent physical activity, and a healthy weight.

6. How is diabetes managed?

Diabetes management involves monitoring blood sugar levels, following a balanced meal plan, engaging in regular physical activity, taking prescribed medications (if necessary), and making lifestyle adjustments.

7. What are the potential complications of diabetes?

Diabetes can lead to various issues, including heart disease, kidney disease, nerve damage (neuropathy), eye problems (retinopathy), foot problems (ulcers), and more. Proper management can reduce the risk of these complications.

8. Can diabetes be cured?

Currently, there is no cure for diabetes. However, with proper management, many people with diabetes can lead healthy and fulfilling lives, and some individuals with Type 2 diabetes may achieve remission with lifestyle changes.

9. Is diabetes hereditary?

There is a genetic component to diabetes, and having a family history of diabetes may increase your risk. However, lifestyle factors such as diet & exercise also play a significant role in diabetes risk.

10. Can people with diabetes eat sweets and carbohydrates?

People with diabetes can enjoy sweets and carbohydrates in moderation, but they should be mindful of portion sizes & monitor their blood sugar levels. A registered dietitian can help create a balanced meal plan.

11. Is insulin the only treatment for diabetes?

No, insulin is one of several treatment options for diabetes. Depending on the type and severity of diabetes, treatment may include oral medications, injectable medications, lifestyle changes, and insulin therapy.

12. What is the normal sugar level in the blood?

Normal fasting blood sugar levels typically range from 70 to 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). However, individual targets may vary.

13. What is a normal HbA1c level?

A normal HbA1c level for most people is below 5.7%. However, individual targets may vary, and your healthcare provider will determine your target range.

14. What are the symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)?

Symptoms of low blood sugar include shakiness, sweating, confusion, irritability, rapid heartbeat, and in severe cases, loss of consciousness. Prompt treatment is essential.

15. What should my sugar levels be after eating (postprandial)?

Ideally, postprandial blood sugar levels should stay below 180 mg/dL two hours after eating, but individual targets may vary.

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