Overview of Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease in which the body is unable to properly use and store glucose (a form of sugar). Glucose backs up in the bloodstream, causing one’s blood glucose ( blood sugar) to rise too high.

Diabetes is a number of diseases that involve problems with the hormone insulin. Normally, the pancreas (an organ behind the stomach) releases insulin to help your body store and use the sugar and fat from the food we eat. Diabetes can occur when the pancreas produces very little or no insulin, or when the body does not respond appropriately to insulin. As yet, there is no cure. People with diabetes need to manage their disease to stay healthy.

How do people know if they have diabetes?

People with diabetes frequently experience certain symptoms. These include:

  • being very thirsty
  • frequent urination
  • weight loss
  • increased hunger
  • blurry vision
  • irritability
  • tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
  • frequent skin, bladder or gum infections
  • wounds that don’t heal
  • extreme unexplained fatigue

In some cases, there are no symptoms — this happens at times with type 2 and In this case, people can live for months, even years without knowing they have the disease. This form  comes on so gradually that symptoms may not even be recognized.


Who gets this?

This can occur in anyone. However, people who have close relatives with the disease are somewhat more likely to develop it. Other risk factors include obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and physical inactivity. The risk of developing also increases as people grow older. People who are over 40 and overweight are more likely to develop this, although the incidence of type 2 in adolescents is growing. This is more common among Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders. Also, people who develop this while pregnant (a condition called gestational diabetes) are more likely to develop full-blown on later in life.

Next Page, How is diabetes treated?

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