Diabetes is a lifelong disease characterized by high levels of glucose in the bloodstream. The food we eat is broken down by our body into glucose and enters our bloodstream. Glucose is the driving fuel that gives us the energy required to get on with our daily activities. But, for it to be able to do that, glucose needs to deposited from our blood into our cells. Our pancreas produce a hormone called insulin, which is responsible for collecting the glucose from our blood, and depositing it into our cells. If the pancreas do not produce sufficient insulin, or if the produced insulin is not used by the body effectively, the glucose remains in the blood and continues to accumulate, resulting in diabetes.
There are mainly two types of diabetes. In Type 1 diabetes, pancreas do not produce insulin at all. This type of diabetes occurs in children and young adults, and accounts for only 5% of all diabetic cases. Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes include excessive thirst and urination, constant hunger, unexplainable weight loss and extreme fatigue.
If the pancreas do produce insulin but not in sufficient quantities, or if the produced insulin is not used effectively by the body, it is referred to as Type 2 diabetes. This is also called insulin resistance. This is a much more common form of diabetes, and is usually associated with old age, obesity, physical inactivity or family history. Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes include all the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes. Additionally, blurred vision, tingling or numbness in hands and feet, slow healing of wounds and cuts are also reported as symptoms for Type 2 diabetes. Sometimes Type 2 diabetes may not exhibit any external symptoms.
Diabetes is usually diagnosed by blood tests called fasting blood glucose test, oral glucose tolerance test and random blood glucose test. Since there is no cure to diabetes, treatment is lifelong and includes supplementing the body with insulin in the form of either tablets or injections. By following active lifestyle, maintaining ideal weight and eating healthy food, onset of Type 2 diabetes can be delayed or prevented.