- Diabetes is a chronic condition associated with abnormally high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Insulin produced by the pancreas lowers blood glucose. Absence or insufficient production of insulin, or an inability of the body to properly use insulin causes diabetes.
- The two types of diabetes are referred to as type 1 and type 2. Former names for these conditions were insulin-dependent and non-insulin-dependent diabetes, or juvenile onset and adult onset diabetes.
- Symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes include
- increased urine output,
- excessive thirst,
- weight loss,
- skin problems
- slow healing wounds,
- yeast infections, and
- tingling or numbness in the feet or toes.
- Some of the risk factors for getting diabetes include being overweight or obese, leading a sedentary lifestyle, a family history of diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), and low levels of the “good” cholesterol (HDL) and elevated levels of triglycerides in the blood.
- If you think you may have prediabetes or diabetes contact a health-care professional.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus is a group of metabolic diseases characterized by high blood sugar (glucose) levels that result from defects in insulin secretion, or its action, or both. Diabetes mellitus, commonly referred to as diabetes (as it will be in this article) was first identified as a disease associated with “sweet urine,” and excessive muscle loss in the ancient world. Elevated levels of blood glucose (hyperglycemia) lead to spillage of glucose into the urine, hence the term sweet urine.
Normally, blood glucose levels are tightly controlled by insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas. Insulin lowers the blood glucose level. When the blood glucose elevates (for example, after eating food), insulin is released from the pancreas to normalize the glucose level by promoting the uptake of glucose into body cells. In patients with diabetes, the absence of insufficient production of or lack of response to insulin causes hyperglycemia. Diabetes is a chronic medical condition, meaning that although it can be controlled, it lasts a lifetime.
How many people in the US have diabetes?
- Diabetes affects approximately 30.3 million people (9.4% of the population) in the United States, while another estimated 84.1 million people have prediabetes and don’t know it.
- An estimated 7.2 million people in the United States have diabetes and don’t even know it.
- Over time, diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney failure, and nerve damage. These types of damage are the result of damage to small vessels, referred to as microvascular disease.
- Diabetes also is an important factor in accelerating the hardening and narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis), leading to strokes, coronary heart disease, and other large blood vessel diseases. This is referred to as macrovascular disease.
- From an economic perspective, the total annual cost of diabetes in 2012 was estimated to be 245 billion dollars in the United States. This included 116 billion in direct medical costs (healthcare costs) for people with diabetes and another 69 billion in other costs due to disability, premature death, or work loss.
- Medical expenses for people with diabetes are over two times higher than those for people who do not have diabetes. Remember, these numbers reflect only the population in the United States. Globally, the statistics are staggering.
- Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States listed on death certificates in recent years.
Quick GuideType 2 Diabetes Diagnosis, Treatment, Medication
Symptoms of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
Symptoms of diabetes can be similar in type 1 diabetes, typically diagnosed in children and teens, and type 2 diabetes, which most often occurs in adults. Symptoms of any type of diabetes are related to high blood and urine glucose levels and include
- frequent infections,
- vomiting, and
- blurred vision.
- weight loss or gain,
- dry mouth,
- slow-healing wounds, cuts, or sores,
- itching skin, and
- increased susceptibility to infections.
9 early signs and symptoms of diabetes
- The early symptoms of untreated diabetes are related to elevated blood sugar levels, and loss of glucose in the urine. High amounts of glucose in the urine can cause increased urine output (frequent urination) and lead to dehydration.
- The dehydration also causes increased thirst and water consumption.
- A relative or absolute insulin deficiency eventually leads to weight loss.
- The weight loss of diabetes occurs despite an increase in appetite.
- Some untreated diabetes patients also complain of fatigue.
- Nausea and vomiting can also occur in patients with untreated diabetes.
- Frequent infections (such as infections of the bladder, skin, and vaginal areas) are more likely to occur in people with untreated or poorly-controlled diabetes.
- Fluctuations in blood glucose levels can lead to blurred vision.
- Extremely elevated glucose levels can lead to lethargy and coma.
How do I know if I have diabetes?
- Many people are unaware that they have diabetes, especially in its early stages when symptoms may not be present.
- There is no definite way to know if you have diabetes without undergoing blood tests to determine your blood glucose levels (see section on Diagnosis of diabetes).
- See your doctor if you have symptoms of diabetes or if you are concerned about your diabetes risk.