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Diabetes: Why Sweets Are Not So Sweet

Updated: Jul 11


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Have you ever heard someone telling, “don’t eat so many candies, you’ll become a diabetic!” Well, that is true. When you don’t control the amount of sugar (also called glucose) that you are ingesting, eventually, your body won’t be able to process it adequately. And when that happens, you become a diabetic. Having high sugar levels out of control can lead you to serious health issues. Here we will talk about what is diabetes, its causes, types, risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention to help you understand it better.



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What is diabetes?


Diabetes is a condition in which the body loses its ability to process the carbohydrates (sugars) that are in your blood after you eat your meals. Under normal circumstances, the pancreas will secrete insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin is a hormone that helps to move the sugar into the cells to be used as energy. When something in the process does not work well, you will have too much sugar in the blood, causing your sugar levels to be high.


Causes


The levels of sugar in your blood can be high because of different reasons. One reason is when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin. Another reason is when the pancreas does not produce insulin at all. Finally, it also happens when the body cells do not respond to insulin, leaving too much sugar in the bloodstream.


Types of Diabetes


Type 1 Diabetes


When you have Type 1 Diabetes your pancreas does not produce insulin. It happens because your immune system destroys the cells in charge of producing insulin in the pancreas. Doctors diagnose Type 1 Diabetes in childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood when the person develops high blood sugar symptoms. People with Type 1 Diabetes will need to use insulin for life.


Type 2 Diabetes


This is the most common type of diabetes, usually diagnosed in adults. Here, your pancreas produces insulin but is not enough to complete its job or your body is not using the insulin properly. Therefore, part of the sugar that you ingest will remain in the blood.


Gestational Diabetes

pregnant woman representing gestational diabetes

When diabetes develops in a pregnant woman, it is called Gestational Diabetes. It happens because sometimes the pregnancy hormones block the action of insulin in the mother’s body. Here, the mother needs more insulin to move the sugar out of the blood. It usually disappears after the baby is born.


There are other types of diabetes, but since they are very rare, we will stick to the 3 types previously mentioned.


Risk factors


Type 1 Diabetes

  • Having a family history of a parent or sibling

  • Young age

Type 2 Diabetes

  • Being overweight or obese

  • Sedentary lifestyle

  • Age 45 or older

  • Family history

  • Gestational Diabetes

  • High Blood Pressure

  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

  • Abnormal cholesterol and triglycerides

  • Being Black, Hispanic, American Indian, or Asian American

Gestational Diabetes

  • Previous Gestational Diabetes diagnosis

  • Overweight

  • Age 25 or older

  • Family history of Type 2 Diabetes

  • Previous baby born weighing 9 pounds or more

  • Having Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

  • Being Black, Hispanic, American Indian, or Asian American

Symptoms

Diabetes symptoms infographics

People with diabetes may have a few symptoms at the beginning, but as the disease progresses and is untreated, more symptoms will show. Among the most common are:

  • Excessive hunger

  • Excessive thirst

  • Excessive urination

  • Fatigue

  • Blurred vision

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Slow-healing sores

  • Frequent infections

  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in hands/feet

  • Dry skin

Complications


An uncontrolled diabetic patient can start showing many serious complications, for example:

cartoon of woman with pictures around showing the diabetes complications
  • Heart disease - This includes coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke, and narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis).

  • Eye damage - This is what you have heard called retinopathy, which can lead to cataracts, glaucoma, or blindness.

  • Nerve damage - Also called neuropathy, leads to symptoms like tingling, numbness, or pain in the hands/feet.

  • Kidney damage - Called nephropathy, causes kidney failure or irreversible kidney damage.

  • The diabetic patient is also more susceptible to skin infections and poor wound healing, as well as hearing problems and depression.

Diagnosis


Testing for Type 1 Diabetes usually happens when the person develops symptoms. However, since Type 2 Diabetes appears later in life with symptoms that, in the beginning, might not be so obvious, it is recommended to be screened for diabetes. Doctors recommended screening when:

  • Age is 45 or older

  • Age is between 19-44 and is overweight/obese with one or more diabetes risk factors

  • Previous diagnosis of Gestational Diabetes

To make the diagnosis, your doctor will order a fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test, which will measure the amount of sugar in your blood after at least 8 hours of fasting. Or he can order the A1C test, also called the glycosylated hemoglobin test, which will give an average of your blood sugar levels during the past three months. And when you have symptoms and your doctor doesn’t want to wait for you to fast, he can order a random plasma glucose (RPG) test. For pregnant women, the doctor can order the glucose challenge test, the oral glucose tolerance test, or both.


Treatment

syringe, vials of insuline, pills and tablets

Although diabetes is not curable, it can be controlled. Sometimes, it can be managed by monitoring the blood sugar daily, having a healthy diet, and exercising. But when that fails, besides the daily glucose monitoring, other alternatives need to be incorporated into the treatment. The specific treatment will depend on multiple factors that your doctor has to take into consideration. Generally, the treatment could consist of oral medications, insulin, or a combination of both. With Type 1 Diabetes, insulin is the only option plus exercise and diet. There are other options for treatment but are not the most common.

Blood Sugar Tracker Bundle



Prevention


There are ways to prevent or delay the development of diabetes. Changes in lifestyle habits can make a difference for you. You can follow a healthy diet and an exercise regimen according to your age, which will help you be at a healthy weight. It is also beneficial to quit smoking and drinking to lower your chances of developing diabetes. Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control and try to practice techniques to lower your stress levels.


As you have seen, diabetes is a disease that can have many complications if left untreated. The good news is that you can start making adjustments in your life that could make a difference, either by preventing or delaying the development of diabetes, or getting the disease under control. No matter if you are diabetic or not, always try to stay healthy and stay tuned for the next topic in this blog.



 

References:

1. Diabetes. American Diabetes Association. https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes Accessed on January 19, 2022.

2. Diabetes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/index.html Accessed on January 19, 2022.

3. Diabetes. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20371444 Accessed on January 19, 2022.

4. Diabetes. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/diabetes.html#cat_51 Accessed on January 19, 2022.

5. Diabetes. National Institutes of Health. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes Accessed on January 19, 2022.


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This Site cannot and does not contain physician advice. The physician information is provided for general and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals. We do not provide any kind of physician advice. THE USE OR RELIANCE OF ANY INFORMATION CONTAINED ON THIS SITE OR THE MOBILE APPLICATION IS SOLELY AT YOUR OWN RISK.


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