Diabetes is one of those conditions everyone knows about and fears. Sadly, it’s become a reality for more and more people. In fact, the rates of diabetes have increased 8-fold between 1958, when it affected less than 1% of the population, and 2015 when it affected 7.4% of the population.
The first step to fighting any enemy is to know who they are, and that’s particularly true with medical conditions. How many types of diabetes are there, and what causes diabetes? Here’s what you need to know:
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disorder that affects the way your body uses a sugar called glucose.
Normally, the glucose you eat and the glucose your liver produces goes to your blood. Your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin that carries blood glucose to your cells. Then, those cells use glucose as energy.
In this case, diabetes breakdown in this process where insulin cannot send your glucose to your cells, which leaves the glucose to build up in your blood.
How Many Types of Diabetes Are There?
If you have type 1 diabetes, your immune system attacks the cells in your pancreas that produce insulin. Then eventually you’re left with little or no insulin. In fact, 10% of people who have diabetes 1 were diagnosed in children or young adults but can develop at any age.
This type of diabetes is called insulin-dependent diabetes, because people with diabetes 1 need to take insulin every day.
This is the most common type of diabetes which up to 95% of people have it. This type of diabetes usually occurs in middle-aged and older people.
In this case, the primary problem is in your cells rather than your pancreas. Whereas our cells become resistant to insulin’s effects, so the insulin can’t give them glucose.
The prediabetes is a sign or a warning of diabetes 2. It means that you have a higher level of sugar than it should be, but it's not enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Approximately 88 million of American adults have prediabetes.
Gestational diabetes is a hormonal complication of pregnancy. In fact, during pregnancy, the placenta releases hormones that make the woman’s cells more resistant to insulin. And, if the woman’s pancreas can’t produce enough insulin to keep up, then gestational diabetes develops.
Less common type of diabetes includes:
Monogenic Diabetes. Rare condition resulting from mutation or changes in a single gene.
Cystic-fibrosis related Diabetes. This type is distinct from Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, but it has features of both. This type of produce excessive mucus which causes scars from the pancreas. When scarring occurs, the pancreas cannot produce a normal amount of insulin.
Drug or chemical Induced Diabetes. This is a condition where a certain medication causes raising of blood glucose level. (03-29-21)
What Are The Causes?
The tricky problem with diabetes is that we don’t know the direct cause. People with prediabetes and Type 2 may not experience symptoms. Unlike in people with Type 1 diabetes, the symptoms start when you are young, teens or adult. Hence, the symptoms tend to come quickly and more severe.
The early signs of for Type 1 and Type 2 may have the same symptoms including:
- Weight Gain
- Frequent urination
- Hunger and Fatigue
- Increased thirsty
- Irritability and Nervousness
- Blurred Vision
- Dry Mouth
- Slow healing wounds
- Itchy Skin
- Numbness or pain in legs and feet
- For women; Gums, Skin And Vaginal Infection
- For men; Impotence or Erectile Dysfunction and Low Sex drive
What Are The Risk Factors?
For Type 1 diabetes risk factors includes;
- Family History. Parent or sibling with type 1 diabetes are more likely to develop diabetes.
- Environmental Factors. Exposure to viral disease may increase the risk of developing diabetes.
- Age. As we get older, we are more likely to develop medical conditions such as high-blood and high cholesterol. In this case, you might find it difficult to control diabetes.
- Geography. Specific countries such as Sweden and Finland have a higher rate of type 1 diabetes.
For Type 2 diabetes risk factors includes;
Although researchers don’t know what causes prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, they still believe that there are several factors are at play.
- Ethnicity. American Indian, Black, Hispanic, and Asian American people are at a higher risk. However, the reasons are still unclear.
- Weight. Cells become resistant to insulin if you are overweight.
- Sedentary Lifestyle. People who are less active have a higher risk. When you are exercising your body uses glucose as energy and that makes your cells more sensitive to insulin.
- Gestational diabetes. The risk of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes increases in pregnant women.
- High-blood pressure. Hypertension is a condition seen in people who have diabetes type 2.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome. The polycystic ovary syndrome is common to women. Generally characterized by obesity, irregular menstrual period increases the risk of diabetes.
- Triglyceride level. Triglycerides is another type of fat carried in our blood. High triglycerides cause insulin resistance. If you have too much insulin and have high blood pressure, your body may not respond in a normal way.
What Are The Consequences?
Diabetes can have a variety of acute and long-term problems. Moreover, extreme highs or lows in blood sugar can be life-threatening.
In addition to the potential for medical emergencies, diabetes can have many long-term complications, such as
- Kidney damage
- Cardiovascular disease
- Neuropathy (pain or numbness in your limbs)
- Poor blood flow
- Vision problems
- Foot damage
- Skin conditions
- Hearing problems
- Alzheimer’s disease
Although, every patient with diabetes will have a different experience, and the key is being diligent in managing your condition.
Besides diet and exercise, doctors often prescribe medications for diabetes.
These may include:
- Metformin or thiazolidinediones for increasing the cells’ sensitivity to insulin
- Sulfonylureas or meglitinides for increasing natural insulin production
- DPP-4 inhibitors which reduce blood sugar levels
- Injectable insulin for a fast reduction in blood sugar
Although every diabetes case is unique, so each person needs a customized care plan.
There are many ways to control diabetes through natural options. Also, exercising often and limiting the sugar in your diet are both vital.
In addition, there are natural supplements which can help:
- Ceylon cinnamon
- Chromium polynicotinate
- Bitter melon
To sum up, It’s all about finding the balance that works for your body.
Staying on Top of Diabetes
There are no two ways about it: diabetes is a serious condition. In fact, it can have life-changing and life-threatening complications.
But the good news is that it’s manageable with the right natural lifestyle changes and medications.
For more empowering tips for better health, check out more articles on our natural health blog.
- "Long-Term Trends in Diabetes", cdc.gov, April 2017,
- "What Causes Gestational Diabetes", WebMD, 30 Jan. 2019, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20371444
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