Diabetes: Symptoms, Types, Risk Factors And More About The Disease

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the number of people with diabetes rose from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. Diabetes is a condition wherein your blood sugar (glucose) levels are high. Diabetes can happen to people at any people and in most cases, it is a chronic condition. Read on to know the symptoms, type, risk factors, complications and more about diabetes.
Know The Symptoms, Types, Risk Factors And More Of Diabetes

Know The Symptoms, Types, Risk Factors And More Of Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition wherein your blood sugar (glucose) levels are high. A person usually develops the condition when their pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin or no insulin at all or when their body doesn’t respond to the insulin that is produced by the pancreas. Diabetes can happen to people at any people and in most cases, it is a chronic condition. Diabetes can be managed with medications and lifestyle changes.
Sugar (glucose) is the major source of energy for your body and it comes from carbohydrates in your food and drinks. Your blood carries glucose to the cells of your body for energy. However, for the glucose to enter your cells, your body insulin. The pancreas produces insulin, however, when there isn’t enough insulin or the insulin isn’t used properly, it can lead to high blood sugar levels, which is also known as hyperglycemia. When you have high blood sugar consistently, it can affect different parts of the body, including the nerves, kidneys, heart and eyes among others.
There are different types of diabetes and depending on the type, the condition can be classified into chronic or acute. Chronic diabetes are Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes. Pre-diabetes and gestational diabetes are conditions which can have the potential to be reversed.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the number of people with diabetes rose from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. Prevalence has been rising more rapidly in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries. WHO also says that between 2000 and 2019, there was a 3% increase in diabetes mortality rates by age. “In 2019, diabetes and kidney disease due to diabetes caused an estimated 2 million deaths.”
In 2014, 8.5% of adults aged 18 years and older had diabetes. In 2019, diabetes was the direct cause of 1.5 million deaths and 48% of all deaths due to diabetes occurred before the age of 70 years.

Symptoms of Diabetes

Check here some of the common symptoms of diabetes which include:
  • Increased thirst (polydipsia) and dry mouth
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Tired and weak
  • Blurred vision
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Numbness or tingling in your hands or feet
  • Slow-healing sores or cuts
  • Frequent skin and/or vaginal yeast infections.

Type of Diabetes

Here, take a look at some of the common types of diabetes.
  • Type 1 diabetes: This type of diabetes wherein it is an autoimmune disease. In this condition, your immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in your pancreas. While it is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, it can develop at any age.
  • Type 2 diabetes: In this type of diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin and/or your body doesn’t respond well to the insulin. While the condition is usually seen in adults, it can also happen to children.
  • Prediabetes: This is the stage before Type 2 diabetes. The blood glucose levels are higher than normal, however, it is not high enough to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
  • Gestational diabetes: In this form of diabetes, people develop diabetes during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes usually goes away after pregnancy, however, if you have gestational diabetes, you’re at a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.
  • Neonatal diabetes: This is a rare form of diabetes which happens within the first six months of life. About 50% of babies with neonatal diabetes have the lifelong form called permanent neonatal diabetes mellitus. For the other half, the condition disappears within a few months from onset, but it can come back later in life. This is called transient neonatal diabetes mellitus.

Risk Factors of Diabetes

The risk factors of the condition depend on your type of diabetes. Here, take a look a some of the common risk factors of diabetes as shared by doctors.
Speaking to Times Now, Dr Manisha Arora, Director of Internal Medicine at the CK Birla Hospital?, Delhi shared some of the common risk factors of diabetes.
  • Age: The risk of Type 2 diabetes increases with age, especially after 45 years. This is due to the body's efficiency in using insulin diminishing over time.
  • Family history: Genetics play a significant role. Having a family member, particularly a parent or sibling, with diabetes increases one’s risk.
  • Ethnicity: Certain ethnic groups, including African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders, have a higher predisposition to Type 2 diabetes.
  • Obesity and physical inactivity: Excess body fat, particularly abdominal fat, and a sedentary lifestyle are major contributors. Obesity leads to insulin resistance, where the body’s cells don’t respond properly to insulin.
  • Poor diet: Diets high in calories, fats, sugars, and refined carbohydrates contribute significantly to the development of diabetes. Overconsumption of sugary drinks and processed foods exacerbates this risk.
  • Gestational diabetes: Women who develop diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) are at higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life. Additionally, their children are also at increased risk.
  • Hypertension and Hyperlipidemia: High blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels are often associated with diabetes. These conditions can indicate metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions increasing the risk of diabetes.
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Women with PCOS, a condition characterized by hormonal imbalance, are more susceptible to diabetes due to insulin resistance.
  • Socioeconomic factors: Lower socioeconomic status can limit access to healthcare, nutritious food, and opportunities for physical activity, increasing diabetes risk.
Dr. Archana Juneja Consultant, Endocrinologist at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Mumbai said that risk factors can be divided into modifiable and non-modifiable.
Non-modifiable are age, race, ethnicity and family history. The risk of diabetes increases with progressing age as insulin resistance increases due to loss of muscle mass and increase in body fat. Some races are more prone than Korean Americans.
Modifiable risk factors include obesity (BMI>23 in Indians is overweight, >27 is obese), sedentary life and physical inactivity, smoking, presence of hypertension, high cholesterol, PCOS, fatty liver, stroke or heart attacks, pre-diabetes or history of gestational diabetes or high glucose levels in past.
Dr Juneja said, “Family history confers a very high risk of diabetes, one parent having diabetes increases risk by 40% in offspring and both parents diabetic carry almost 70% risk in offspring. Having a sibling with diabetes also increases the risk of having a distant relative like an uncle or cousin with diabetes.”

Complications of Diabetes

People tend to gradually develop the long-term complications of diabetes. Here are some of the complications of diabetes.
  • Heart and blood vessel disease: Diabetes can increase the risk of heart problems. These include coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke and atherosclerosis. You might also have an increased risk of stroke and heart attack.
  • Nerve damage from diabetes: Also known as diabetic neuropathy, this happens when too much sugar can damage the walls of the blood vessels that are present in the legs and hands. It can cause a tingling and burning sensation along with numbness.
  • Kidney damage: Also known as diabetic nephropathy, diabetes can affect the tiny blood vessels that help to filter waste, thereby, affecting the kidney’s ability to filter waste and toxic substances.
  • Eye damage: Also known as diabetic retinopathy, the condition can damage the blood vessels of the eye which can also lead to blindness.
  • Foot damage: Nerve damage in the feet or poor blood flow to the feet increases the risk of problems in the foot.
  • Skin and mouth issues: Diabetes can also lead to skin problems which include bacterial and fungal infections.
  • Hearing problem: People with diabetes have an increased risk of suffering hearing problems.
  • Alzheimer’s disease: Diabetes also increases your risk of dementia which also includes Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Depression: People who have type 1 and type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of depression.
  • Digestive problems: Damage to the nerves in the digestive system can also cause problems with digestion. It can lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and constipation among others. Diabetes can also cause erectile dysfucntion in men.
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