In Type I diabetes, the onset is sudden, so the symptoms are quickly noticed and a diagnosis can be established rather fast. In Type II diabetes, the onset is more gradual; most of the signs are mistaken for those of obesity or aging. They might look so if taken separately, but when put together they definitely indicate towards something more serious. The most common symptoms of diabetes are:
- Weight loss (type I) or weight gain( type II)
- Feeling more thirsty than usual
- Frequent urination either as a result of drinking more liquids or because the body needs to flush the excess glucose one way or the other and it resorts to the urinary system
- Feeling hungrier, in spite of having eaten recently
- A lack of energy
- Itches or skin infections
- Wound that take more time to heal
- Pain in the hands
- Leg cramps
- The breath has a sweeter odor or smells of acetone
- Blurred vision
- Mood swings
- Nausea and vomiting
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Abdominal pain
- Swollen gums
- Sexual dysfunctions
- Yeast infections
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
The signs that point towards type I diabetes will hardly go unnoticed. Not only do they seem to appear out of nowhere but they also manifest in a way that will make someone feel weird in his own body. This type is harder to treat, but thanks to its immediate symptoms, the doctor can easily establish a diagnosis and place the patient under medical surveillance.
Then, we have type II diabetes with a slower development and a set of vague symptoms of which many resemble those of aging. Because of this, one should occasionally control his sugar blood levels to be sure everything is all right. This can be done through a simple visit to the doctor.
If not diagnosed in time, diabetes can lead to a number of complications that will worsen the patient’s physical condition and make the doctor’s work even harder.
Diabetes is a harsh medical condition that should be regarded as such from the very beginning, and which can affect the body in the long term if left untreated. All types are serious and can damage one both physically and mentally if not taken care of properly. We have listed below some of the complications that an overlooked diabetes diagnosis can bring about:
- Cardiovascular disease (hypertension, heart attack and stroke)
- Eye problems: glaucoma, cataract and even blindness
- Kidney disease and even renal failure due to damaged blood vessels
- Skin issues: itching, infection or darker skin patches in some areas of the body
- Hearing problems
- Weaker bones
- Wounds that heal harder; in the situation when the wound does not close, the body becomes more susceptible to infections
- Gum issues
- Foot problems: pain as a sign of gangrene( which means the foot must be amputated)
- Sexual dysfunctions
- Lower immune system
- Complications during pregnancy
- Diabetic neuropathy (damage at the level of the nervous system with a direct effect on the body’s extremities)
Every single complication should make one think twice before choosing not to pay careful attention to the disease. It is important to offer the treatment quality time for it to be as efficient as possible.
The only constant in diabetes patients in their high blood sugar levels. Except for this, their symptoms might vary from the least serious to the most harmful. Therefore, it is only normal for the diagnosis to be based on the amount of glucose found in one’s blood. To find this out, a doctor will first inspect the patient’s medical history and ask questions in regards to his family members as to determine whether there were any cases of diabetes or if this is the first one. Afterward, the specialist will carry a physical examination to determine if the patient shows signs of diabetes, such as wounds that do not heal, bleeding gums, increase in body weight or vision problems. Then, he will perform one of the following three tests to see how high the glucose levels are:
- Fasting plasma glucose levels, conducted after a period of fasting that can last up to eight hours prior to the test
- Oral glucose tolerance testing, usually used to detect type II and Gestational diabetes
- Glycosylated hemoglobin which offers the patient information in regards to his glucose levels and how they have fluctuated in the last three months
In case the results are not convincing enough, the doctor will have to repeat the test for as many times as needed to reach a final conclusion. This is done in order to eliminate any error and the possibility of a misdiagnosis.
Diabetes Mellitus is a chronic disease. This means it is a permanent medical condition and cannot be cured, at least not with the help of present-day medication. However, there are a number of treatments that can successfully reduce the impact of some of its symptoms. In accordance with the type and the patient’s general health, the doctor can:
- prescribe medication that reduces glucagon levels and enhances the pancreas’ function (glucose regulators, DPP-4 inhibitors or incretin mimetics)
- resort to insulin injection for patients with type I diabetes and whose insulin production is either too low or inexistent
- resort to surgery (especially for people who have suffered from diabetes for more than a decade)
Diabetes is one of the illnesses that can be managed with the help of a healthy diet and a positive mindset. If left untreated, someone’s life expectancy can drastically decrease, and its quality will be strongly affected by the various complications that diabetes triggers. On the other hand, if one takes care to pack his meals with foods rich in nutrients and vitamins, looks after his body weight and uses medication, then the disease should not be that much of a problem.
If you find yourself in this situation, you can also quit smoking and alcohol, exercise more often and pay more attention to your mental health.
Risk Factors and Prevention
As of now, type I and Gestational diabetes have no prevention method, as they are associated with genetics and have little to do with the external factors. However, some groups have higher chances than others to suffer from the disease at some point in their lives:
- American Indians
- People living in Alaska
- Asian Indians
- Asian Americans
- Mexican Americans
- Cubans and Puerto Ricans
Type II diabetes which is related to one’s body weight can be prevented and/or managed by maintaining a normal body weight. Even so, there are risk factors associated with it that one might want to know more about:
- Family history of diabetes
- Unhealthy lifestyle
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol levels
In spite of all the pieces of information, someone can benefit from at the present moment, more and more people are diagnosed each year. Fortunately, if one thinks he notices symptoms and does not have time to consult with a doctor, he can go to a pharmacy and ask for a pharmacist’s help.
When it comes to preventing diabetes from occurring, some small steps taken in the right direction can lead to great changes:
Keeping in touch with the general practitioner is the best decision to make in the long term. This way, the doctor will be able to supervise the disease’s development and whether the patient’s health condition has improved or worsened. In addition, as new studies are published, more efficient treatments are sure to arise. Therefore they will help the doctor provide the patient with a faster diagnosis and better medication.
Diabetes is a long-lasting disease that becomes a permanent part of a patient’s life from the moment he first hears the diagnosis and until the last breath. The illness is a chronic one with a gradual development which is influenced by a multitude of factors. Especially when it comes to people with a genetic predisposition to it, diabetes can be prevented only for so long before it finds the right conditions to settle in. In spite of the general opinion, overweight individuals are not necessarily bound to suffer from it even if many of them are in this situation.
The disease does not take into account one’s age or environmental conditions, although it can be influenced by them. Diabetes affects children, young adults, pregnant women and older people in the same manner. Unfortunately, it does not stop at the physical level. The mental health is seriously influenced by the changes the body goes through. Luckily for them, aside from the doctors who are at their service 24/7, diabetes patients can also benefit from support groups and special care. Frequent visits to the GP and excellent communication with the specialist and one’s family members are sure to help the patient deal with the disease easier. All in all, if the medication is taken as prescribed and the life choices are healthy, diabetes is an illness one can live with for many years without facing any major complication. For now, it is uncertain to assume that diabetes will have a cure anytime soon. Still, judging by how fast science evolves, it should not surprise us if one day a team of experts claimed they had found the solution.
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