What are the most common symptoms of diabetes? How do you know if you have diabetes? What should a person do to prevent diabetes?
Diabetes is usually a lifelong (chronic) disease in which there are high levels of sugar in the blood. According to recent statistics from the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, diabetes affects 25.8 million people of all ages. This is 8.3 percent of the U.S. population. It is estimated that about 18.8 million people are currently diagnosed with diabetes and that there are approximately 7.0 million people undiagnosed with diabetes.
What are the Two Types of Diabetes?
There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. In general, people with diabetes either have a total lack of insulin (type 1 diabetes) or they don’t have enough insulin or cannot use insulin adequately (type 2 diabetes).
Type 1 diabetes was originally named juvenile-onset or insulin-dependent diabetes, because it most frequently occurs in childhood. This type accounts for 5 to 10 out of 100 people who have diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system destroys the cells that release insulin, eventually eliminating insulin production from the body. Without insulin, cells cannot absorb sugar (glucose), which they need to produce energy. Type 1 diabetes is rare, however, symptoms in type 1 diabetes usually present much more suddenly and are often severe, so people are more inclined to get to the doctor and get an accurate diagnosis.
Type 2 diabetes can begin at any age. It was previously referred to as adult-onset or non–insulin-dependent diabetes, and is commonly discovered during adulthood. However, type 2 diabetes can be diagnosed in childhood. About 90-95% of the people diagnosed with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, the body has “insulin resistance” and is not able to immediately use insulin. As type 2 diabetes worsens, the pancreas may make less and less insulin, resulting in insulin deficiency. People with type 2 diabetes often don’t have any noticeable symptoms. Because of this, when symptoms do occur, people often do not go to a doctor or primary care provider, and type 2 diabetes is left undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
How Does Diabetes Affect the Stomach, Pancreas and Bloodstream?
If a person has diabetes, the stomach changes food into glucose and glucose enters the bloodstream. It travels through the blood vessel to the pancreas. The pancreas does not make enough insulin. Little or no insulin enters the bloodstream from the pancreas.
When the glucose builds up in the bloodstream, it creates high levels of sugar in the blood. This may result in noticeable symptoms or may go unnoticed for several years. The early detection and treatment of diabetes can decrease the risk of developing the complications of diabetes.
What are the Symptoms of Diabetes?
Some of the signs and symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes include:
- Excessive thirst and appetite
- Blurred vision
- Slow healing sores
- Dry mouth
- Unusual weight loss or weight gain
- Nausea and perhaps vomiting
- Itching in the groin or vagina
- Yeast infections (in both men and women)
- Increased urination
- Fainting spells
- High blood pressure
- Tingling, pain or numbness in hands or feet
- Rapid breathing
- Rapid heart beat
Are Childhood Diabetes Symptoms Unique?
Childhood diabetes can be very serious and is often difficult to detect. If you notice your child having any of the symptoms below, have him/her examined by a doctor as soon as possible.
- Frequent diaper rash
- Frequent illness
- Bed wetting
- Slow growth
- Behavior problems
- Unusual thirst
- Unusual hunger
- Slow healing sores
How is Diabetes Treated?
Type 1 diabetes is treated with insulin, exercise, and a diabetic diet.
Type 2 diabetes is treated first with weight reduction, a diabetic diet, and exercise. If these treatments do not control the elevation of blood sugars, then the doctor will most likely prescribe oral medications If oral medications are still insufficient, treatment with insulin is considered.
Elevated blood sugar from diabetes requires strict diet and lifestyle changes. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) has provided guidelines for a diabetic diet. The ADA diet is a balanced, nutritious diet, low in fat, cholesterol, and sugars.
If you suspect that you or a loved one might have diabetes, contact your trusted doctor immediately.
Mayo Clinic, Web MD, American Diabetes Association, National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse
This article is written by Jean Voice Dart, M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University. Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.
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