Diabetes is a serious medical condition that can have a wide range of negative effects on the body. People with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and narrowing of blood vessels (atherosclerosis). Diabetes can also cause eye problems, such as diabetic retinopathy, which can lead to vision loss if not detected and treated early. Additionally, diabetes can cause foot problems that can result in amputation if left untreated.
The root cause of diabetes is an inability to properly process sugar (glucose) in the body. Normally, when food is consumed, it is broken down into glucose and released into the bloodstream. This triggers the pancreas to release insulin, which acts as a key to allow glucose to enter the body's cells and be used as energy. When this process is disrupted, it can lead to hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), which can cause serious damage to many of the body's systems over time.
There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.Type 1 diabetes (formerly known as insulin-dependent, juvenile or childhood-onset) is characterized by poor insulin production and requires daily insulin administration. Type 2 diabetes (formerly known as non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset) is caused by the body's inability to use insulin effectively. People with prediabetes (impaired fasting glucose or impaired glucose tolerance) have a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes if their blood sugar levels are not monitored regularly.Women with gestational diabetes are also at an increased risk of complications during pregnancy and delivery. It is important for pregnant women to be tested for gestational diabetes early in their pregnancy so that any necessary treatment can be started right away.
There is no cure for diabetes yet, but there are treatments available that can help prevent or delay complications. These treatments include diet and physical activity, along with medications to lower blood glucose and other known risk factors that damage blood vessels. Additionally, family members of people with type 1 diabetes may be tested for the presence of diabetic immune system cells (autoantibodies). It is important for people with diabetes to take steps to manage their condition in order to reduce their risk of developing complications.
This includes following a healthy eating plan, exercising regularly, not smoking, and taking medications as prescribed by their doctor. Additionally, babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes are more likely to be obese as children or teenagers and to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.