- The body requires glucose (a form of sugar) to provide the energy needed to perform its functions. In fact, all body tissue, especially the brain, needs continuous glucose. Hormones in the body carefully control blood sugar levels. Insulin prevents the blood sugar from becoming too high. Since Insulin is produced by the beta cells in the pancreas, diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough Insulin, or the cells and tissues cannot utilize that Insulin properly (Insulin resistance).
- Diabetes is often categorized into two types: Type I (Insulin-dependent) and Type II (non-Insulin
dependent). Type I is sometimes called juvenile onset diabetes. In general, the onset of diabetes in those below 25 years of age is generally diagnosed as Type I diabetes, and is caused by the pancreas not making enough Insulin. In general, the onset of diabetes in those above 40 years of age is due to Insulin-resistance.
- Occasionally, younger obese children will have Insulin-resistance
- When the blood sugar becomes high, the body tries to get rid of the excess sugar by trying to urinate it off. This leads to Dehydration and is the reason diabetic symptoms are usually excessive thirst and urination.
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent and large volume urination
- Rapid weight loss
- Frequent urination
- Frequent female Yeast Infections
- Sometimes, there are no symptoms
- Strong genetic component (family history) especially Type II diabetes
- Pancreatic tissue damage (rare cause)
- Follow diabetic diet guidelines --
avoid concentrated sugars such as sodas, juices, deserts,
and high sugar fruits such as grapes
- Oral hypoglycemic medications such as Glipizide -- "pushes" the pancreas to produce more Insulin
- Glucophage --
helps tissue to overcome Insulin resistance
- Insulin injections
-- various short and long acting forms available to supplement Insulin
- Note: Current medical studies show that controlling blood sugars with proper diet and medication decreases the chance of complications. In addition, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol if they are elevated also helps decrease the risk of diabetic complications.
- Retinopathy -- eye damage and
blindness may occur
- Higher risk of glaucoma
- Higher risk of Cataracts
- Nephropathy -- kidney damage
- Neuropathy --
damage to nerves occurs, especially in the lower legs. In addition, Neuropathy may affect
the nerves to the heart so that a diabetic may not feel
chest pain from a heart attack. Another form that
affects the heart is called autonomic dysfunction, in which
the heart does not increase its rate when it needs to.
Also, the stomach, intestines, and colon may be affected,
and not function properly (gastroparesis). See section
on diabetic Neuropathy
for a more detailed explanation.
- Heart disease -- angina, heart
attacks, and "silent heart" attacks
- Vascular disease -- hardening and
blockages of various arteries of the body
- Low Blood Sugar due to diabetic medications can lead to Comas and Seizures.
- Diabetic Ketoacidosis occurs in Type I diabetics when
their blood sugar becomes elevated. There is such
stress on the body that the muscles break down to form
glucose and ketones. This condition is a medical
- A Hyperosmolar Coma is a complication of Type II diabetes, which is characterized by severe Dehydration.
This is also an emergency medical condition.
- Blood sugar monitoring as
prescribed by your doctor. Remember blood sugar
checks are usually done before meals and before bed,
unless your doctor gives you different instructions.
- Proper monitoring of blood
pressure, heart, and cholesterol levels are very important
- Eye exams by an ophthalmologist yearly (Diabetic Retinopathy can be treated especially if found
- Regular foot exams by your doctor
or a podiatrist
- Urine -- 24 hour collection for
protein should be done every 1-2 years
- Hemoglobin A1C blood test usually every 4 months -- assess sugar control over this time
- What Happens If My Blood Sugar
Drops Too Low?
- Diabetic medications sometimes cause blood sugars to drop dangerously low. Symptoms include sweating, heart pounding, and clammy hands. In this instance, you need sugar immediately (orange juice or soda will work). Low Blood Sugar can cause Seizures, Strokes, or Comas. If symptoms do not improve rapidly, you need immediate emergency medical treatment.
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