Diabetes – The Basics
There are two kinds of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Although there are a description and list of symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes, this article is really about Type 2, the most common form.
Type 1 Diabetes
This is also sometimes called juvenile diabetes because it often starts in childhood but not invariably. This type of diabetes is usually an autoimmune disease where the body’s antibodies start attacking some part of itself, in this case, the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. It is thought that in some cases a virus can also affect and damage or destroy these insulin-producing cells.
- Increase in urinating as the kidneys attempt to remove excess glucose from the body
- Feeling excessively thirsty to compensate for all the fluid loss by extra urination
- Weight loss because the body can’t access the glucose it needs for energy so starts using fat and muscle
- Feelings of constant hunger because the person is literally starving as the body can’t use the food it is being given
Type 2 Diabetes
This form is sometimes called late onset diabetes and it is becoming much more common nowadays. Although it seems there is a genetic component in whether or not somebody develops it, the most important factor seems to be our modern lifestyle. Our bodies are not ideally designed to cope with a lack of exercise and an excess of fatty and sugary food.
Unlike Type 1 diabetes, people with Type 2 are making insulin, it is just that their bodies have become resistant to it and their pancreas cannot make enough to compensate for the resistance.
- Increase in urination, just like in Type 1
- Increased thirst as Type 1
- Tiredness because your body can’t access glucose for fuel
- Changes in vision as blood glucose levels change
- Genital itching because of the excess sugar in urine, various yeast infections can occur
- Infections and wounds take longer to heal because the cells in blood that fight infection don’t work so well when there is excess glucose
- Loss of feeling in feet – this is serious and means that the diabetes is long established. Called neuropathy, it can result in amputation if left untreated and extreme and irreversible damage occurs. If you have this symptom, go to the doctor NOW.
Type 2 diabetes is one of the few illnesses where the treatment and results are almost entirely in your own hands. Stick to the rules and get your blood glucose levels under control and you might never need to inject insulin or even take pills.
Depending on how early the diabetes is diagnosed, the doctor will put you on one of three treatments:
- diet and exercise alone
- insulin injections
Even if you are on pills or insulin injections, watching your diet and taking exercise will still be an important part of controlling blood glucose levels. Get these right, lose weight if you need to, and it is possible to come off either pills or insulin injections and still control diabetes.
Even if this happens, you will still be diabetic and remain vigilant about your diet and continue to exercise. If you fall back into bad habits of a high fat, high sugar diet and inactivity, blood glucose levels will soar.
It isn’t all doom and gloom, though. If you have spent years of battling with your weight, diabetes will give you the incentive to lose the excess and the diet to control diabetes will give you the means. Following a diabetic diet, which is really just a healthy diet, will enable you to keep the weight off too.
When you hit the diabetic blues after diagnosis, just think how much better you will feel when you have gone down several sizes and can buy the kind of clothes you could never buy before.