Diabetes is an endocrine disease whereby the body does not properly process food for use as energy. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use as energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies.
There are 4 different types of diabetes
- Pre-diabetes: Insulin resistance sends your pancreas into overdrive, and while it may be able to keep up with the body’s increased demand for insulin for a while, there is a limit to insulin production capacity and eventually your blood sugars will elevate, leading to prediabetes, the precursor of type 2 diabetes, or type 2 diabetes itself
- Gestational diabetes: is a form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. Most women will no longer have diabetes after the baby is born. However, some women will continue to have high blood glucose levels after delivery. It is diagnosed when higher than normal blood glucose levels first appear during pregnancy.
- Type I diabetes: also known as “juvenile” diabetes is an autoimmune condition that prevents the pancreas from producing enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels and results in high blood sugars.
- Type 2 diabetes: in type 2 diabetes there is adequate insulin produced but there is insulin resistance where the body cannot use insulin properly to ferry glucose to the cells and hence causes hyperglycemia or high blood sugar.
Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes include:
- Frequent urination
- Extreme thirst
- Feeling tired and weak
- Blurry vision
- Feeling hungry, even after eating
Complications of type 2 diabetes:
Type 2 diabetes has close links to several medical conditions and increases your risk of developing:
- Cardiovascular disease: including heart attacks and strokes
- Diabetic retinopathy: high blood sugar weakens the capillaries (the tiny blood vessels) that supply the retina (the light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the inner eye). The capillaries then swell, become blocked, or leak blood. In advanced stages, abnormal new blood vessels grow and have the tendency to leak blood, the result can be severe vision loss or even blindness
- Diabetic neuropathy: type 2 diabetes can cause nerve damage to any nerve of the body. Most commonly, it affects the nerves in the feet, legs, hands, and arms. This condition is called peripheral neuropathy and can cause tingling, burning, pain, or numbness in the affected areas.
- Diabetic nephropathy: type 2 diabetes can affect the nephrons (filtering units) in the kidneys. High blood pressure and high cholesterol compound this problem. In the early stages of diabetic nephropathy, you may not notice any symptoms, but standard blood and urine tests can detect early signs of dysfunction, and early treatment can stop or slow its progression.