Don’t think you’re at risk of developing diabetes? Think again. Diabetes is the most common endocrine system disorder and affects more than 30 million people in the United States. This disease occurs when blood sugar levels are consistently above normal and is usually caused by:
- Your body's inability to make insulin (Type 1)
- Your body not responding to the effects of insulin (Type 2)
- Pregnancy (Gestational)
Although similar, each type of diabetes is unique, so it’s critical that you know the
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas produces very little to no insulin, which is a hormone that allows the body to properly use blood sugar. This results in high blood sugar levels, with common symptoms like frequent urination, increased thirst and hunger, weight loss, blurry vision, fatigue, and poor wound healing. These symptoms typically develop over a relatively short period of time, which is why seeking care as soon as you notice them is so important.
Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes
Prediabetes—or impaired glucose tolerance—happens when blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. It often doesn’t cause symptoms, but it nearly always comes before the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar, lack of insulin, and insulin resistance. Common symptoms include increased thirst and hunger, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, and sores that do not heal. Unlike the symptoms of type 1 diabetes, these tend to come on slowly. Long-term complications can include heart disease, stroke, diabetic retinopathy (damage to the blood vessels in the tissue at the back of the eye), kidney failure, and poor blood flow to the limbs.
This condition occurs when a woman without diabetes develops high blood sugar levels during pregnancy. Although it results in few symptoms, it does increase the risk of preeclampsia (high blood pressure and organ damage), depression, and the need for a Caesarean section. Babies born to mothers with poorly treated gestational diabetes are at increased risk of being too large, having low blood sugar after birth, jaundice (yellowing of the eyes), and even stillbirth. In the long term, these children are also at higher risk of being overweight and developing type 2 diabetes.
It’s important to remember that untreated or poorly managed diabetes can lead to severe health complications. So, if you think you’re at risk of developing this condition or may already have it, make an appointment with your Primary Care Provider today.