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Symptoms and treatment of diabetes

With the rise of adult and childhood obesity in North America, we as a culture are seeing a big jump in obesity-related diseases, including diabetes. Over 7 percent of the United States population suffers from diabetes, and 6.2 million people who have the disease don't realize that they have it.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus is a pancreatic disorder, where the body cannot produce or process insulin. Insulin is used by the body to break down blood sugars and starches into energy. Although the exact cause of the disease is unknown, it is thought that the increase in obesity and inactivity in today's culture is increasing the incidence of diabetes. Genetics is also a big factor in who will get the disease.

There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.

Type 1 diabetes

This type of diabetes used to be known as juvenile diabetes, because it's usually diagnosed in children and in young adults. In this form of the disease, the body does not produce insulin at all.

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Frequent urination, with large amounts of urine being produced at one time
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • A sweet or acetone smell to the breath

There is no cure for this type of diabetes, but through proper management living with diabetes can be well-controlled by supplying the body with the right amount of insulin through pumps, injections or pen injections. Monitoring the blood sugar level is extremely important for people with type 1. If the blood sugar level is even a little bit off, complications can occur which are sometimes fatal.

Type 2 diabetes

This type of diabetes is more common. Insulin is continuing to be produced, but it's not being properly used in the body. This type of diabetes normally occurs later in life.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:

  • Slow-healing cuts and bruises
  • Recurrent infections of the gums, bladder and skin
  • Itchy skin
  • Frequent need to urinate
  • Increased thirst
  • Tingling in the hands or feet
  • Fatigue or blurred vision
  • High blood pressure
  • Impotence
  • Worsening eyesight
  • Angina or heart attacks

Diabetes Treatments

It is important to get prompt treatment if you suspect you have diabetes, and to maintain regular checkups with your health care provider once you've been diagnosed. If not properly managed, diabetes can lead to several serious complications. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can cause nerve damage, referred to as diabetic peripheral neuropathy. In the arms and legs, nerve damage can cause pain, tingling and numbness, and internally it can cause constipation, erectile dysfunction and vision problems.

Treatment often includes oral medications or insulin shots, but depending on how severe the symptoms are, type 2 diabetes care can simply include more exercise and a healthy diet plan. Diabetes supplies are available from several online manufacturers and also medical supply stores. For both types of the disease, a doctor will diagnose and then recommend a treatment plan. Resources for diabetics can be found online, at hospitals and in support groups in your particular area.

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