Diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs when your blood glucose (sugar) is too high. Blood glucose is your body’s main source of energy, and it comes from the food that you eat. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps move glucose from food into your cells to be used for energy. If you don’t have enough insulin available or if your body can’t use insulin very well, blood glucose levels become too high.
Over time, high blood glucose levels can lead to serious health problems, including heart disease, eye problems and blindness, kidney disease, and nerve damage. Right now, there is no cure for diabetes, but there are effective ways to manage it and live a healthy life.
To get cutting-edge diabetes news, strategies for blood glucose management, nutrition tips, healthy recipes, and more delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our free newsletters!
There are actually many types of diabetes, but the most common are type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. Here’s a closer look:
About 5% to 10% of people with diabetes have type 1. This is an autoimmune condition that destroys the beta cells in the pancreas that make insulin. It can affect people of all ages, races, and genders. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin to survive.
About 90% to 95% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. With this type, the body doesn’t make enough insulin and/or use insulin that well, which leads to high blood sugars. This type can also affect people of all ages but is more common in middle age and older people. Type 2 is treated with a combination of lifestyle and medication, which may include insulin.
Gestational diabetes occurs in pregnant women who have never had diabetes. It usually goes away after the baby is born, but both the mother and baby have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes later in life.
The signs and symptoms of diabetes depend on how high the blood sugar is. These are the most common symptoms of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes tends to come on quickly, and other symptoms can include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and fruity or sweet-smelling breath. These symptoms can indicate diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which is a serious and possibly fatal condition. The presence of DKA is sometimes the first indication of type 1 diabetes in a person who has not yet been diagnosed. Type 1 diabetes is diagnosed with a blood test for blood glucose and/or hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c); other tests may be done, too, including checking for autoantibodies in the blood and ketones (produced when the body burns fat for energy) in the urine.
Type 2 diabetes can take a long time to develop, which explains why some people with type 2 don’t have any symptoms. This type of diabetes is often diagnosed at a routine doctor’s visit after a blood test that checks for glucose and/or hemoglobin A1C.
Gestational diabetes usually doesn’t cause symptoms. Pregnant women should be tested for gestational diabetes between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. A glucose challenge test or an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) is used to diagnose gestational diabetes.
Want to learn more diabetes basics? Read “Welcome to Diabetes” for type 2, “Type 1 Diabetes Questions and Answers” for type 1, and “Gestational Diabetes: Are You at Risk?” for gestational diabetes.
Source URL: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/education/diabetes-types-signs-and-symptoms/
Disclaimer of Medical Advice: Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information, which comes from qualified medical writers, does not constitute medical advice or recommendation of any kind, and you should not rely on any information contained in such posts or comments to replace consultations with your qualified health care professionals to meet your individual needs.
Copyright ©2023 Diabetes Self-Management unless otherwise noted.