Diabetes is divided into two main categories, type 1 and type 2. They are both chronic diseases that develop when the body is unable to regulate blood sugar, also known as glucose. Individuals diagnosed with diabetes lack the ability to use or store sugar from their food, which is vital for producing energy to live. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, delivers glucose into the bloodstream, resulting in sugar distribution to the muscles, liver, fat, and other cells in the body. Insulin levels control sugar levels by indicating to the organs when the body needs fuel, and when insulin needs to be stored in the liver for future energy use. Almost all cells in the body require the presence of insulin to procure glucose from the blood. Diabetes results in protracted high blood sugar levels, which heighten the risk of complications. Following are recognizable signs of diabetes displayed by the two types of diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes
Individuals who have type 1 diabetes are unable to produce insulin. The cause for this type of diabetes is still under investigation, however researcher do know that in type 1 diabetic individuals, the body’s immune system is flawed, mistaking healthy body cells for foreign invaders. In responding to the “attack”, the immune system eradicates the beta cells in the pancreas that are responsible for producing insulin. The complete lack of insulin production causes diabetic symptoms to rapidly develop, in just a matter of weeks. Symptoms are typically severe and include:
- Extreme thirst and increased urination
- Intense hunger, even after eating
- Unexplained, rapid weight loss
- Sores or cuts that don’t heal appropriately
- Weakness and exhaustion
- Visible emotional or behavior changes
- Distorted vision
- Fruity-smelling breath
Type 1 diabetes is typically diagnosed in childhood, or adolescence, and is often referred to as juvenile diabetes. Insulin must be systematically injected, or pumped, into the body to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Type 1 diabetes cannot yet be prevented, and there is no cure. Healthy living requires consistent blood sugar testing.
Type 2 Diabetes
The signs of type 2 diabetes often develop very gradually, and may not be apparent to the individual. According to the Mayo Clinic, approximately one-third of all people that have this type of diabetes, do not know they have it. With this type of diabetes, insulin is being produced by the individual, but their body is not able to effectively use the insulin produced. Type 1 and 2 diabetes, share many warning signs, but individuals with type 2 diabetes may experience additional symptoms, because of the delay of onset. For example, pre-diabetes, a condition that occurs when glucose levels are higher than normal, may not produce any systems, and can often, only be determined by a blood test. If the pre-diabetes is not addressed by lifestyle or diet changes, it typically develops into type 2 diabetes within a matter of five years, or less. Along with the symptoms listed above for type 1 diabetes, type 2 sufferers may experience:
- Red, swollen, tender gums
- Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
- Dry, itchy skin, particularly around the groin or vaginal area
- Recent weight increase
- Numerous yeast infections
- Darkened skin changes of the groin, armpit, and neck regions
- Decreased vision
A glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test, is the primary method of establishing a diagnosis of diabetes, as it analyzes blood sugar levels for the prior two to three-month period. See your physician if you are experiencing any of the signs of diabetes, or have any concerns.