What is Diabetes?
Learn About Diabetes
Diabetes is a metabolic disease characterized by a persons inability to either transport blood sugar by way of insulin into cells or produce insulin. Diabetes, also defined as diabetes mellitus, is characterized by a group of metabolic diseases classified within two groups (Type 1 and Type 2) that affect how your body metabolizes, stores, or transports glucose (sugar in your blood) into the cells of your body to be used as energy. Glucose is transformed into glycogen in your brain, muscle, and tissue cells to be expended as energy. Essentially, a person has diabetes if too much blood sugar or glucose is available in your blood stream and cannot be transported by insulin into appropriate cells.
Diabetes is an invasive disease. Worldwide, 382 million people have diabetes; by 2035 this will rise to 592 million. Diabetes is defined by as a chronic condition. Diabetes is reversible if diagnosed as prediabetes or gestational diabetes defined by temporary high blood sugar levels in adults or in women during pregnancy. People with diabetes report symptoms ranging from mild to severe based on the diagnosis of type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes
The amount of elevated blood sugar and other preexisting conditions affect signs and symptoms of diabetes. People who experience mild symptoms or no symptoms may in fact be candidates for prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes diagnosis. People with Type 1 diabetes experience and express moderate to severe symptoms of diabetes.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes Type 1 and Type 2:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Extreme hunger
- Unexplained weight loss
- Presence of ketones in urine ›
[Ketones are a byproduct of the breakdown
of muscle and fat that happens when there’s
not enough available insulin]
- Unexplained fatigue
- Habitual irritability
- Blurred vision
- Slow-healing sores
- Frequent infections, such as gums or skin infections and vaginal infections
Diabetes Diagnosis & Testing:
Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is thought of as lifestyle induced diabetes and can develop at any age. Type 2 diabetes in most common among adults. Type 1 diabetes is diagnosed early in life, typically during early childhood or adolescence. If you feel or experience any of these signs or symptoms you should contact your doctor immediately. Your doctor may test your blood for blood sugar concentration. Your doctor may order the fasting plasma glucose test (FPG), given after a minimum of 8 hours of fast (period without food), if the result of this test shows that your blood sugar level is between 100 – 125mg/dL, you have pre-diabetes meaning that your blood sugar is high just slightly below the standard of 126mg/dl meaning that you have diabetes. Another test, the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) that is administered after the minimum 8 hour fast and again 2 hours after drinking a solution of liquid and glucose (simple sugar). If the result of this post-fast, post-2 hour, test shows that your blood sugar level is between 140 – 199mg/dL, you have pre-diabetes meaning that your blood sugar is high just slightly below the standard of 200mg/dl meaning that you have diabetes. If your doctor suspects that you may have pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes, your doctor may also order the glycohemoglobin test. This test is commonly called hemoglobin A1c, HbA1c, or A1C test. The A1C test expresses the average concentration of blood sugar within a time span up to 3 months. AC1 levels tested twice measured between 5.7 – 6.4 means that you have pre-diabetes, if tested twice resulting 6.5% or higher means that you have diabetes.
Essentially, in type 1 diabetes your body, specifically your pancreas, does not produce insulin. Worldwide, it is estimated that only 10% of all people with diabetes are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. By far contrast, type 2 diabetes accounts for approximately 90% of all diabetes diagnosis worldwide.
Depending on the type of diabetes you have, you may be required to take medications including synthetic insulin by injection or oral medications such as Biguanides, Sulfonylureas, Meglitinides, Thiazolidinediones, Pioglitazone, DPP-4 Inhibitors, Alpha-glucosidase Inhibitors, or a combination of these and other medications.
While diabetes can be a devastating disease to comprehend, managing diabetes with the help support and direction of your doctor, friends, and family members can make your experience, acceptance, and routine of care clear. Obviously prevention is key. Explore other questions asked about diabetes by simply clicking on the Diabetes Information links above in the table of contents. Again, always check with your doctor if you believe you might have concerns related to diabetes or symptoms of diabetes.
Diabetes Diagnosis Worldwide
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes
1. “IDF Diabetes Atlas.” International Diabetes Foundation. International Diabetes Foundation, 2 July 2011. Web. 10 Sept. 2014.
2. “Diabetes Symptoms.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 4 Sept. 2012. Web. 10 Sept. 2014.
3. “How Does Someone Know If He/She Has Diabetes?” Health.NY.gov. Department of Health Information for a Healthy New York, 26 Aug. 2013. Web. 15 Oct. 2014.
4. “Diagnosis of Diabetes and Prediabetes.” NIH.gov. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), National Institutes of Health (NIH), 10 Sept. 2014. Web. 15 Oct. 2014.
5. “Fast Facts on Diabetes.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon International Ltd, 2 Apr. 2009. Web. 10 Sept. 2014.
6. “National Diabetes Statistics Report 2014.” CDC. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 10 June 2014. Web. 10 Oct. 2014.
7. “Oral Diabetes Medications Summary Chart.” Joslin Diabetes Center. Harvard Medical School, 1 Jan. 2010. Web. 8 Oct. 2014.
Exercise for People Living with Diabetes?
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