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Diabetes

diabetes

Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease in which your blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels are too high. Glucose comes from the foods you eat. Insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose get into your cells to give them energy. With type 1, your body does not make insulin. With type 2, the more common type, your body does not make or use insulin well. Without enough insulin, the glucose stays in your blood. You can also have prediabetes. This means that your blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes. Having pre-diabetes puts you at a higher risk of getting type 2.

Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause serious problems. It can damage your eyes, kidneys, and nerves. It can also cause heart disease, stroke and even the need to remove a limb. Pregnant women can also get diabetes, called gestational diabetes.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of diabetes include

  • increased thirst and urination
  • increased hunger
  • fatigue
  • blurred vision
  • numbness or tingling in the feet or hands
  • sores that do not heal
  • unexplained weight loss
  •  

Symptoms of type 1 can start quickly, in a matter of weeks. Symptoms of type 2 often develop slowly—over the course of several years—and can be so mild that you might not even notice them. Many people with type 2 have no symptoms. Some people do not find out they have the disease until they have diabetes-related health problems, such as blurred vision or heart trouble.

What causes type 1?

Type 1 occurs when your immune system, the body’s system for fighting infection, attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. Scientists think type 1 is caused by genes and environmental factors, such as viruses, that might trigger the disease. Studies such as TrialNet  are working to pinpoint causes of type 1 diabetes and possible ways to prevent or slow the disease.

What causes type 2?

Type 2 diabetes—the most common form of diabetes—is caused by several factors, including lifestyle factors and genes.

Overweight, obesity, and physical inactivity

You are more likely to develop type 2  if you are not physically active and are overweight or obese. Extra weight sometimes causes insulin resistance and is common in people with type 2. The location of body fat also makes a difference. Extra belly fat is linked to insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and heart and blood vessel disease. To see if your weight puts you at risk for type 2 diabetes, check out these Body Mass Index (BMI) charts.

Insulin resistance

Type 2 usually begins with insulin resistance, a condition in which muscle, liver, and fat cells do not use insulin well. As a result, your body needs more insulin to help glucose enter cells. At first, the pancreas makes more insulin to keep up with the added demand. Over time, the pancreas can’t make enough insulin, and blood glucose levels rise.

Source: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

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