Diabetes: symptoms, causes and consequences of diabetes
Diabetes: These are the symptoms of diabetes
To understand diabetes, it helps to look at an important process in the body: When a healthy person eats a meal, blood glucose levels automatically rise. Normally, the body secretes the hormone insulin, which is produced by beta cells in the pancreas. It ensures that blood sugar is absorbed by the body's cells. This is how it is distributed in the body. Blood glucose levels drop.
With diabetes, many sufferers have to take insulin from the outside. (symbol image). © Gero Breloer/dpa
In people with diabetes, this process does not work properly. In both type 1 and type 2, the body can no longer control blood glucose levels. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. The body's defenses are misdirected in patients with the disease: They attack the beta cells of the pancreas. They are destroyed and consequently can no longer produce insulin. From a certain, low insulin value one speaks of a diabetes disease.
Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disease
Type 2 diabetes is the more common disease – 90 percent of all diabetes patients are affected by this type. It is not an autoimmune disease, but a metabolic disease. It is usually triggered at an advanced age. People with type 2 disease still produce sufficient insulin in the pancreas – but it has a weaker effect in the organs. This is called insulin resistance. More and more insulin has to be produced. However, the pancreas is no longer able to cope with it.
Another type of diabetes is gestational diabetes. This metabolic disease is often triggered by fluctuating hormone levels. It must be treated, but usually disappears after pregnancy.
Type 1 diabetes: causes and triggers
There is still no conclusive scientific explanation as to why some people develop type 1 diabetes. It is clear, however, that there are so-called risk genes that are hereditary. But they do not trigger diabetes on their own. It is external factors that are blamed for the onset: These can be viral diseases, diet, or environmental factors such as poisoning from chemicals.
In most cases, type 1 diabetes is diagnosed in childhood or adolescence – which is why this type is also called "juvenile" diabetes. But type 1 diabetes can also occur again in adults. Every year, around 4.000 adults and up to 10.000 children with type 1.
Diabetes type 2: Causes of the disease
While type 1 diabetes often occurs in childhood, type 2 affects mostly older people. In recent years, however, more cases of type 2 diabetes have also been reported in younger people. This diabetes is usually triggered by an unhealthy diet and too little exercise, although a hereditary predisposition often promotes the disease here as well.
According to studies, about 80 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight. Exactly why body weight leads to insulin resistance is not yet clear. One possible explanation is that fat cells change when you are overweight and release other messenger substances. This could weaken the effect of insulin.
There are some risk factors for type 2 diabetes that you should avoid if possible:
– Overweight and too little physical activity – Diet low in fiber, high in fat and sugar
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Diabetes type 1 and type 2 and their common symptoms
Both types of diabetes have the following symptoms:
– Strong feeling of thirst – Frequent urination – Lack of drive – Fatigue – Dizziness, in severe cases also unconsciousness – Dry skin
Diabetes diagnosis: recognizing type 1 and 2
If you are suspected of having diabetes, the first thing your doctors will ask you about is your symptoms, other illnesses and cases of diabetes in your immediate family, so that they can make a diagnosis.
A test that is important for the diagnosis is the blood glucose measurement. Because you naturally have different blood glucose levels throughout the day, blood is drawn at different times of the day. The blood glucose level is determined in the laboratory. The so-called HbA1c value is also tested: This value reveals how high your blood sugar has been on average in recent months. HbA1c is an important laboratory value in diabetes. It makes it possible to draw conclusions about blood glucose control over the last eight to twelve weeks. The HbA1c value in healthy people is around 30 mmol/mol, or about five percent. This means that about five percent of the hemoglobin molecules in the blood are "sugared". Patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes have a pathogenic level above 6.5 percent.
To distinguish between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, doctors can test for antibodies. Your blood is then tested for antibodies that are found in the pancreas in type 1 diabetes. These tests are also performed for early detection, before the first symptoms break out.
Diabetes and its consequences
If you suspect you have diabetes, be sure to consult your doctor. Because: The consequences of the disease can be serious. Nerves and organs suffer, especially if the body has been over-sugared for years. Diabetes is a progressive disease that continues to attack the body throughout life.
– Diabetes patients disproportionately have heart failure and suffer heart attacks and strokes. – A frequent consequence of diabetes is circulatory disorders. This can cause individual limbs to die: Several thousand toes and feet are amputated each year in people with diabetes. – Diabetes can damage the vessels in the eye. Between 1.000 and 2.000 people go blind in Germany due to diabetes. – One third of all dialysis patients are diabetics: diabetes causes the walls of the kidneys to thicken, so they lose their filtering power. If left untreated, the kidneys will fail within a few years. – Patients with type 1 diabetes in particular are at risk of hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia. If insulin intake is too high, hypoglycemia can occur, leading in the worst case to hypoglycemic shock. Patients often become unconscious or have seizures. – Hyperglycemia causes the blood to become overacidified. This process is called diabetic ketoacidosis. It can lead to diabetic coma.
Diagnosis of type 1 diabetes – What to do?
Type 1 diabetes is not yet curable. Because your pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin, diabetics with type 1 need to inject themselves with insulin, depending on their blood glucose levels. Measure your blood glucose level several times a day: before meals, before exercise, before going to bed, or when you feel unwell. The values tell you whether you are hypoglycemic or hyperglycemic and let you calculate how much insulin you need to inject yourself with.
As a type 1 diabetes patient, you can usually eat normal, healthy food. However, you need to calculate the carbohydrates in your food before you eat it. Here's how to determine what amount of insulin is needed. From apps to tables of guideline values: Your doctor will tell you how to calculate easily. For many people with diabetes, it becomes routine over the years.
Diabetes type 2 – Which treatment is sensible?
Type 2 diabetes treatment proceeds in various stages. The goal of treatment is to lower the hbA1c level. To avoid the serious sequelae, you should strictly follow the recommendations of your doctor.
The first phase usually consists of patient education and lifestyle changes. Often this consists of getting rid of excess weight, quitting smoking, getting enough exercise.
In the second phase, patients are given so-called antidiabetic drugs. These are tablets that are supposed to lower blood sugar. They function for only a short time. Must be taken daily.
If phase 1 and 2 do not result in the desired blood glucose levels, the third phase is to try different antidiabetic drugs in combination. If even this is not enough, insulin therapy is added. This means that insulin is administered to the body to lower blood glucose levels.
For both types of diabetes, regular check-ups by a doctor are obligatory. The feet in particular must be checked so that diabetic foot does not occur. *Mercury.de is an offer from IPPEN.MEDIA.