There are approximately 11 million Canadians currently living with diabetes, and someone new is diagnosed every 3 minutes. As many as 6 million Canadians have yet to be diagnosed with this chronic disease or are living with what’s known as “prediabetes.” During the prediabetes phase, your blood sugar reaches higher than normal levels but not quite high enough to be considered diabetic. However, research has also shown that certain complications linked to diabetes, such as heart disease, can happen as early as the prediabetic phase, therefore it’s important to have regular checkups with your physician and take any precautions that they recommend, such as changing your diet, checking your blood sugar regularly, etc.
There are two types of diabetes that one can be diagnosed with: Type 1 and Type 2. Each type of diabetes has very similar symptoms and tell-tale warning signs, including fatigue, hunger, thirst, frequent urination, dry mouth, itchy skin and blurred vision. However, some of the symptoms may differ, and they also affect the body in different ways.
Type 1 Diabetes
This form of diabetes occurs when the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas known as beta cells. Once this happens, the body either produces less insulin than it should be, or no insulin at all, and sugar builds up in your blood rather than being used as energy. While Type 1 diabetes can develop in individuals of all ages, it typically occurs in children or adolescents. It’s also rare, as only 5% of individuals with diabetes are diagnosed with Type 1. While it’s not known what causes Type 1 diabetes, health experts know that genes play a role. It is also known to co-occur with certain autoimmune diseases, like Grave’s disease and vitiligo.
Common symptoms associated with Type 1 diabetes include increased hunger, dry mouth, thirst, nausea and vomiting, frequent urination, abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, blurred vision, labored breathing, as well as frequent infections of the skin or urinary tract. These symptoms are usually mild, though in some cases they may be severe. If your breathing becomes rapid, if you start shaking, feel confused, or lose consciousness, then these are signs that you are experiencing some kind of medical emergency and should have someone take you to the nearest ER or call 911.
As a result of having high blood sugar, you can also develop a condition that’s known as diabetic ketoacidosis (also known as DKA.) This condition occurs when the body doesn’t have enough glucose for fuel, and instead breaks down fat cells. Your liver then releases the sugar that is has stored, but without enough insulin the body cannot use it, and this then leads to a buildup of sugar in the blood as well as the creation of chemicals known as acidic ketones. It can be a life-threatening complication associated with diabetes and needs to be treated right away. Common treatment for DKA includes fluid and electrolyte replacement, as well as insulin therapy. Over time, high blood sugar levels can also cause harm to the. Nerves and blood vessels in the eyes, kidneys and heart, which also puts you at risk of suffering a heart attack or having a stroke.
Type 1 diabetes is treated with insulin to help control blood sugar. There are different types of insulin that you can be prescribed, including rapid-acting, short-acting, intermediate-acting, or long-acting. Your doctor will decide which is best for you. You will also need to check your blood sugar levels on a regular basis to make sure they remain within a healthy range, and you may sometimes need to adjust or decrease your insulin intake. In addition, you will also need to make certain lifestyle changes, such as with your diet, as well as physical activity.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes that people are diagnosed with, affecting around 90% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes, and occurs when your body is unable to use the insulin that is released. This is known as insulin insensitivity or insulin resistance. Unlike Type 1 diabetes, which tends to affect more children than adults, Type 2 diabetes is the opposite in that it typically affects more adults than children.
There are many contributing factors that can lead to the development of Type 2 diabetes, including genes, being overweight or obese, a condition known as metabolic syndrome (including high glucose, triglycerides, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol), or it can be the result of improper communication between cells or broken beta cells. You’re also at an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes depending on your age (especially if you are 45 or older), ethnicity, or if there is a family history of Type 2 diabetes. Your risk also increases if you had gestational diabetes during pregnancy, polycystic ovary syndrome, or even depression. Lifestyle also plays a huge role; for example, if you don’t get enough exercise, are a smoker, or don’t get enough sleep. The good news is that these are lifestyle habits that you can change.
Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes can be so mild that many people may not even notice them, while you may also notice things like blurred vision, extreme thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision, tingling or numbness of the hands or feet, fatigue, wounds that don’t heal or take more time than normal to heal, frequent yeast infections, as well as irritability. Complications can also arise as a result of Type 2 diabetes, such as kidney problems, heart problems, nerve problems, as well as problems with sexual function.
To avoid complications, you need to make sure that your diabetes is well managed, and there are many different ways in which you can do this. First, you will need to check your blood sugar regularly to see where your levels are at. This will give your physician a better idea of what the right diabetes medication is for you and how frequently you will need it. In addition, combining diet and exercise with medication can also help control your blood sugar levels. A registered dietitian can help you come up with a healthy meal plan.