Diabetes: What Is It? What Are The Symptoms?
Diabetes is defined as the body’s inability to use blood sugar properly.
Diabetes mellitus is rapidly increasing due to the prevalence of malnutrition and inactivity.
While diabetes threatens people from all age groups, one person dies every six seconds in the world due to problems related to diabetes.
Studies show that the number of people who will have diabetes in 2035 will approach 600 million worldwide.
There are also 316 million people with pre-diabetes in the world, known as hidden diabetes.
It is very important to keep blood sugar under control in order to prevent diabetes.
What Will We Learn?
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a common disease in which high blood sugar occurs as a result of deficiency or ineffectiveness of insulin secreted from the pancreas.
The energy needed by the body is provided by the basic nutrients protein, fats and carbohydrates.
The most important part of these nutrients is ‘glucose’, that is, simple sugar.
The importance of glucose is due to the fact that it is the most important energy source of the body, especially the brain.
Cells use the glucose they need with the help of the hormone insulin secreted from the pancreas.
If the insulin hormone cannot be made in the body, glucose cannot be used as energy and blood sugar will rise.
Changing living conditions and eating habits have an impact on the spread of diabetes.
It may be possible to prevent diabetes by abandoning a sedentary lifestyle by following the principles of regular and balanced nutrition.
When patients diagnosed with diabetes are not treated appropriately, life expectancy is shortened by 8 years.
Who Gets Diabetes Mellitus?
The amount of sugar in the blood of diabetic patients increases and is excreted from the kidneys.
Diabetes, which occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin hormone or the insulin hormone it produces cannot be used effectively, can be seen in a newborn baby as well as in an 80-year-old individual.
Obesity is the most common cause of diabetes, which is becoming more and more common all over the world due to the sedentary lifestyle brought about by wrong eating habits.
It is most common in middle-aged and older people.
The increase in the prevalence of obesity in children and young adults in recent years as a result of inaccuracies in eating habits can push the age of onset of diabetes forward.
What Are The Types Of Diabetes?
There is more than one type of diabetes. Diabetes disease classification according to the most recently accepted form is as follows:
- Type 1 diabetes
- Type 2 diabetes
- Gestational diabetes
- Other causes (based on drug use, hormonal disorders, etc.) were determined.
The most common types of diabetes in the community are Type 1 and Type 2.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes occurs when there is an absolute deficiency of the hormone insulin.
Type 1 diabetes develops as a result of the destruction of pancreatic beta cells, which undertake insulin production, as a result of the deviation of the immune system from normal due to a virus, drug, vaccination, physical or psychic stress, etc.
When this damage reaches over 80%, the symptoms of diabetes begin to appear.
These patients must take lifelong insulin therapy.
Type 2 Diabetes
In the initial period of this type of diabetes, although the pancreas secretes enough insulin, the secreted insulin cannot be used by the cells.
In the later stages of the disease, insulin secretion from the pancreas becomes insufficient.
In type 2 diabetes, clinical signs may not be seen for many years.
Infection, surgery, pregnancy, stress, or being overweight may reveal diabetes clinically.
Type 2 diabetes usually occurs in people over the age of 40.
The risk of this type of diabetes is higher in women who have diabetes in their family members, overweight people, and women who have given birth to a baby weighing more than 4 kg.
What Are The Symptoms Of Diabetes?
Regular medical care is required in diabetes mellitus, in which all cells and tissues are affected.
The most typical complaints of patients are known as drinking a lot of water, frequent urination (especially at night) and abnormally increased appetite.
Symptoms of the disease are weight loss, blurred vision, urinary tract infections, fungal infections.
What Are The Symptoms Of Type 1 Diabetes?
The symptoms of diabetes can be listed as follows:
- Weakness, fatigue
- Stomach ache
- Acetone odor on the breath
- Frequent urination, especially at night
- Dry mouth
- Drinking a lot of water
- Dry skin
What Are The Symptoms Of Type 2 Diabetes?
- Weight loss despite good appetite
- In some cases, visual disturbances
- Delayed healing of skin wounds
- Frequent infections (especially urinary tract infections)
- Numbness and tingling in hands and feet
- Vaginal discharge, itching complaints in women
Deep breathing, breath that smells like acetone (sour apple), dry tongue, drowsiness are symptoms of coma in Type 2 diabetes and require immediate hospital admission.
What Are The Treatment Methods For Type 1 – Type 2 Diabetes?
The aim of the treatment of diabetes is to prevent blood sugar spikes and blood sugar drops.
Diabetes is a very important disease that should not be neglected because it can cause complications.
In the treatment of diabetes, it is desirable to prevent the development of long-term complications.
The unchangeable rules in the treatment of diabetes are education, balanced diet and exercise.
In type 1 diabetes, it is necessary to use insulin for life.
If blood sugar levels cannot be kept within normal limits with the lifestyle changes recommended in type 2 diabetes, oral pills are added to the treatment plan.
In some patients with type 2 diabetes, temporary or permanent insulin therapy may be needed to keep the blood sugar level under the normal range.
The cases where insulin therapy is necessary are due to the inability of the cells in the pancreas of the diabetic to produce enough insulin.
Insulin therapy can be temporary or permanent.
The necessity of applying insulin therapy for a permanent period depends on the inability of the cells in the pancreas of the patient to produce enough insulin.
Diabetes education includes the diabetic patients and their relatives to have information about the signs of diabetes, the right nutrition plan, diabetes-related diseases (complications), the ability of diabetics to follow themselves, to learn how to measure blood sugar, and to apply what they have learned in daily life.
As a matter of fact, diabetes education is an indispensable part of treatment.
How Much Should Your Blood Sugar Value Be?
If the fasting blood glucose level is higher than 126 mg/dL, the blood glucose level measured randomly is higher than 200mg/dL, the blood glucose level is 200mg/dL or higher for 2 hours during the sugar loading test, and the HbA1c value is more than 6.5%, this is risky.
The person may have diabetes and should consult a specialist without wasting time.
What Should Be Done To Prevent Diabetes?
There is currently no effective treatment method that can prevent type 1 diabetes.
As a matter of fact, early diagnosis is essential to prevent complications of Type 1 diabetes.
Recommendations to prevent type 2 diabetes and its complications:
- Adequate and balanced nutrition should be provided. At least five servings of vegetables and fruits should be consumed per day.
- Whole grain products and legumes should be preferred instead of simple carbohydrates such as sugar, and simple carbohydrates should not exceed 10 percent of daily energy.
- It should be noted that the amount of salt consumed per day should not exceed 5 g.
- An active lifestyle should be adopted, at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity should be done regularly at least 5 days a week. (brisk walking, etc.)
- Overweight people should do more physical activity to achieve weight loss.
- Smoking should not be used, excessive alcohol should not be consumed.
- Appropriate body weight should be targeted. 25-30 percent of the energy needed daily should be provided from fats, the ratio of energy from saturated fatty acids should be below 10 percent.
What Are Other Organ Damage (Complications) Caused By Diabetes?
Some people diagnosed with diabetes may encounter some complications after living with this disease for many years. Some diabetics may have problems with their eyes, kidneys, nerves and feet.
The risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases increases in diabetes patients, and as diabetes progresses, some organs may be damaged.
Diabetes can damage the small vessels that carry blood to the hands, toes, skin, and other parts of the body.
In particular, the small blood vessels of diabetics with high blood sugar and high blood pressure may weaken, and small blood vessels may be damaged by the loss of flexibility of red blood cells.
The weakened veins that are damaged as a result often crack.
One of the organs most damaged by diabetes is the eyes.
If progressive diabetes is not taken under control, it can bring along some eye-related problems.
Patients diagnosed with diabetes must undergo an eye examination.
Early recognition of eye problems caused by diabetes ensures that measures are taken to prevent these problems from reaching a level that affects the patient’s life.
Felice Johnson, one of the expert authors of the Helaio site, underlines that antibiotics can harm the kidneys in diabetes.
Some eye-related problems that diabetes can cause can be listed as follows:
- Causing cataract formation, accelerating the formation of cataracts
- Increase in intraocular pressure
- Causing vision loss by creating edema in the visual center of the retina
- As a result of widespread damage to the retina, disorders such as intraocular hemorrhages, band formation, retinal detachment may occur
- Depending on the fluctuations in blood sugar, it can cause strabismus, that is, changes in the number of glasses.
Diabetes can also negatively affect kidney health in the process, leading the patient to kidney failure.
30-40% of patients undergoing dialysis treatment have kidney failure due to diabetes.
Kidney disease seen in diabetic patients is called diabetic nephropathy.
Early diagnosis is very important for diabetes-based kidney disease.
Because if nephropathy is diagnosed in the early period, its progression can be stopped and reversed with intensive insulin and tight control.
People with diabetes may have damage to the heart and blood vessels.
So much so that the incidence of heart-related problems in diabetics is 2-4 times higher than in non-diabetic patients.
Due to the high sugar level in the blood of diabetics, the cardiovascular structure deteriorates and vascular occlusion occurs.
As a result, the heart has to work harder to push blood through the increasingly clogged vessels.
This can lead to heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, and insufficient blood supply to the arms, legs, and head.
Diabetics should have their blood pressure and cholesterol values checked regularly against a possible risk of heart disease.
Hypertension and high cholesterol are among the most common cardiac problems.
Patients are recommended to have their blood fat (total cholesterol, HDL, LDL and triglyceride) levels measured at 3-6 month intervals.
Diabetes can also damage nerve cells.
When blood sugar is high, nerve cells swell and deteriorate.
As a result of damage to the nerve cells that cannot carry out the task of carrying signals to the organs in the body, tingling, numbness, burning, aching and throbbing sensations occur in the feet and lower parts of the legs.
This condition is called diabetic neuropathy.
When the blood sugar level is normal, the signs of neuropathy may decrease or disappear completely.
Along with the damage to the nerves caused by diabetes, sexual health can also be adversely affected by this situation.
E.g There may be erectile dysfunction (impotence) in men and a decrease in the ability to reach orgasm in women.
High blood sugar can increase the risk of infection.
Damage to small blood vessels prevents adequate blood flow to the skin, and the body’s microbe-fighting system slows down.
Both of these conditions increase the risk of infection.
Preventive vaccine treatments should be applied to diabetic patients from diseases such as influenza and pneumonia.
Infections can be seen in many places such as mouth, lung, bladder, skin.
The tendency to fungus formation on the skin increases.
Infection in the mouth also leads to gum diseases and other dental problems.
Injuries and cuts may not cause any pain in diabetic patients due to damage to the nerves.
Patients who do not notice the injuries can become infected more quickly.
On the other hand, high blood sugar weakens the body’s ability to fight infections and heal wounds.
This may result in the death of skin tissues and other tissues.
Especially from the onset of type 2 diabetes, “hyperinsulinemia” in the body can cause tumor cells in the body to grow faster, leading to both new cancer formation and the growth of existing tumors.
It is important for diabetics with cancer to provide accurate blood sugar control in order to get positive results from their treatment.
Proper Nutrition In Diabetes
Medical nutrition therapy in diabetes is very important for the quality of life of patients.
With the healthy nutrition program applied, it is aimed to keep the blood sugar at the desired level and to prevent the increase in blood fats.
By consuming the right foods, patients can minimize the risk of other ailments that diabetes can cause.
The diet of diabetics should be determined individually by dietitians.
Because the diabetes patient’s height, weight, blood sugar rate and the drugs he uses form the basic data for the nutrition program to be created.
Thanks to the 6 meals a day nutrition program created for diabetics, insulin is used in a balanced way, the body’s insulin requirement is reduced, and the patient is protected in cases such as sudden sugar increases or decreases.
Meal breaks should not exceed 2-2.5 hours, calories taken from meals should be balanced.
“Complex carbohydrate” foods such as legumes, vegetables, and cereal breads, which take longer to digest than simple carbohydrates, are recommended for diabetics.
The diet prepared for diabetics should not be temporary, it should be made into a nutritional habit and continued for life.
The main nutritional recommendations for diabetics:
- Margarines should be avoided. Only olive oil and a small amount of butter should be preferred. Grilled and lean red meat and white meat should be given priority.
- Diabetics should stay away from all kinds of sugar, fried and roasted foods, and ready-to-eat foods.
- The nutrition program of the patients should consist of foods rich in B, C and E vitamins.
- The fiber content in the diet should be increased. The high percentage of fiber slows down the absorption of carbohydrates, which has a positive effect on the regulation of sugar level.
- Fruits should be consumed without peeling.
- Foods with high glycemic index, such as potatoes, carrots, and rice, which increase blood sugar rapidly, should be avoided.
- Water consumption should be increased. Care should be taken to consume at least 2-2.5 liters of water during the day.
- Meals should be cooked by grilling, boiling and baking.
- Sweeteners should not be used as much as possible.
- Very salty foods such as canned, homemade salty tomato paste, brine should be avoided.
Blood Glucose Values when hungry and full
Postprandial Normal value of blood sugar;
1st hour 140 mg/dl,
The 2nd hour is 120 mg/dl or less.
Diabetes is diagnosed when postprandial blood sugar is at or above 200 mg/dl.
In fasting blood sugar values;
- 50/70mg/dl: there may be hypoglycemia.
- 70/100mg/dl: normal, 100/125mg/dl may be hidden sugar.
- Above 126mg/dl: may be diabetes
General evaluations of fasting and postprandial blood sugar results must be made by the doctor.
Is Diabetes Contagious?
Diabetes is a chronic disease like hypertension and hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol).
As a matter of fact, it is not a microbial and contagious disease.
Because diabetes can be hereditary, it can be seen in several people from the same family, but it is not contagious.
If you do not know the benefits of cherries for diabetics, you can learn by reading this article.
Is Insulin Use In Diabetes Addictive?
“The use of insulin is addictive, it is not possible to return to tablets once started.” The idea is definitely not true.
Diabetes treatments do not cause “addiction”.
The word “dependence” is entrenched in the confusion caused by the use of the terms “insulin-dependent” and “non-insulin-dependent” diabetes to replace Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes in the past.
Insulin therapy is not an irreversible treatment.
For example, a diabetic who uses insulin during pregnancy may start taking his tablets after giving birth, or a patient who is switched to insulin because the operation is planned may return to his tablets when he starts eating after the operation.
Diabetic patients with reduced insulin need may also switch from insulin to tablets as a result of the endocrinological evaluation, depending on their condition.
Does Insulin Therapy Harm The Kidneys?
Insulin is the hormone that is already present in our body and that diabetes occurs because it is missing, it does not harm the body.
It is long-term high sugar levels that are harmful to the body and cause problems such as blindness, kidney failure.
Since most of the patients avoid starting insulin treatments due to fear of needles or do not comply with their diet and do not take their medications regularly, high sugar levels for a long time eventually cause organ damage.
Are People Who Avoid Sugary Foods Less Likely To Have Diabetes?
Diabetes occurs not because of excessive consumption of sugary foods, but because there is a lack of insulin secretion from the pancreas or insulin resistance in the body.
In addition to drug treatment in those with diabetes, sugary foods are restricted in the diet and the pancreas is helped to maintain normal sugar levels.
What Is The Relationship Between Obesity And Diabetes?
Obesity is the most important risk factor for diabetes.
This situation is categorized according to the generally accepted “body mass index” in the world.
Accordingly, people with central obesity (waist circumference) above the specified rates should be screened for diabetes every 3 years starting from the age of 40.
People who are overweight but not obese should have sugar tests from a younger age and more frequently if they are in one of the following risk groups.
If the person is obese, he should have routine diabetes screening tests from the age of 40.
Overweight or chubby, if the answer to even one of the questions below is yes, it should be investigated and followed up in terms of diabetes.
- Do you have diabetes in your first and second degree relatives?
- Did you give birth to a large baby (birth weight of 4000 g and above)?
- Have you been diagnosed with “gestational diabetes” in your previous pregnancies?
- Do you have hypertension (blood pressure: BP ≥140/90 mmHg)?
- Do you have dyslipidemia (HDL-cholesterol ≤35 mg/dl or triglyceride ≥250 mg/dl)?
- Have you had a sugar loading test before and have you been told that your values are not very good?
- Do you have polycystic ovary syndrome?
- Do you have any vascular disease?
- Was your birth weight less than 2500 grams when you were born?
- Do you have a sedentary lifestyle with minimal physical activity?
- Do you have an “unhealthy” diet consisting of foods rich in saturated fats and low in fiber?
- Do you have a psychiatric illness and do you take medication for it?
What Should Diabetics Pay Attention To In Winter?
Especially in the winter months, with the cold weather, diabetics need to be more careful about many issues such as diet, sports activities and body care.
With the decrease in air temperature, the body’s calorie expenditure and the associated metabolic rate decrease.
This situation causes blood sugar regulation to deteriorate.
Diets and medications that keep blood sugar in balance may also be less effective in winter than in summer.
As a matter of fact, during the winter months, patients should check their blood sugar frequently for a period and consult their physician about changes in diet and treatment.
Decreased activity in patients and, accordingly, disruption in meal times may cause low sugar called “hypoglycemia”.
Diabetic patients should be careful not to be hungry for a long time and not to skip meals during the winter months.
Especially, patients with diabetic neuropathy can keep their feet close to the stove and other heaters for a long time, as their feet may feel cold all the time.
This situation invites foot burns to be seen more frequently in winter.
What Should Diabetics Pay Attention To In Summer?
Many physiological reactions occur due to the high temperature in the summer months.
High-temperature humidity and the associated high pressure adversely affect the health of diabetic patients.
It is recommended that diabetics make their work schedules and vacation plans in the summer, taking into account their health status as much as possible, they should be indoors when the temperature is high, and they should definitely wear a hat in open areas.
Diabetics can travel during the summer months if they take precautions by knowing the problems that will affect their disease.
As a result of the increase in skin temperature in summer, the effect of insulin administered subcutaneously occurs faster, and the risk of hypoglycemia increases.
Diabetics who encounter this situation should consult a doctor and get detailed information about insulin administration techniques.
However, the insulin pens used should be stored very well and kept away from direct sunlight.
What Damage Does Diabetes Do To The Eye?
Cataracts occur more frequently and at younger ages in those with diabetes than in those without diabetes.
It can also cause paralysis of the eye muscles by affecting the optic nerve.
The most important complication of diabetes is retinal involvement.
It can cause edema (water retention), bleeding foci and new vascularity in the retina.
These newly formed sensitive vessels may also bleed, causing intraocular hemorrhage and retinal detachment.
In more advanced stages of the disease, glaucoma (increased intraocular pressure) may occur.
If the disease and its complications are not treated, it can result in blindness.
In diabetic patients, there may be a slow progressive decrease in vision, as well as sudden vision loss.
However, patients may have no visual complaints despite the onset of damage to their eyes.
This shows the importance of examining diabetic patients by an ophthalmologist together with a diabetes specialist.
Severe vision loss can be prevented in many diabetic patients with early diagnosis and treatment and frequent controls.
Diabetic patients should consult an ophthalmologist without waiting for a decrease in their vision.
Lesions detected at an early stage can be treated more effectively and safely.
Blood sugar level, hypertension, cholesterol level and other important tests should also be kept under control by the doctor who deals with your diabetes.
Can Diabetes Cause Psychological Problems?
Although diabetes causes some changes in the physiological structure of the person, it can also cause some problems in mental balance and harmony.
Anxiety, stress, and inadequate social support may cause negative consequences related to diabetes, especially in the sick person.
Likewise, exposure to severe stress can lead to the emergence of the disease in people who are predisposed to diabetes.
Some studies show that events such as grief and trauma are among the factors that cause diabetes.
Emotional reactions and adjustment difficulties are frequently seen in patients with diabetes.
Disease symptoms, complications and the natural distress caused by the treatments applied, together with the anxiety about the future and the deterioration of the body appearance, can negatively affect the physical, cognitive and emotional functions and social life of the patient.
Patients who are demoralized due to the diagnosis of diabetes may have difficulties in nutrition, treatment management and compliance with physical activities.
Negative changes in mood can increase stress hormones, causing an imbalance in blood sugar levels and a decrease in insulin effect.
Stress and anxiety are important factors in patients whose blood sugar is not regulated despite treatment.
Another problem to be considered in diabetics is high anxiety.
Worries such as inability to be self-sufficient, not being independent, damage to organs, loss of support from the environment and family are common.
However, it is necessary to distinguish between the disordered and normal emotional response.
What should be done in diabetic patients is to take preventive measures before psychiatric disorders occur.
In addition, removing the disease from its focal point and making some changes in living habits will also be of great benefit.
These changes can be listed as follows:
The person should know himself well, identify the stressful events he is affected by and be aware of how to respond to them.
Great care should be taken to avoid all stressful events.
Although it is not possible to completely get rid of stress, it is necessary to develop appropriate coping methods, especially if there is anxiety about complications that may occur due to diabetes but have not yet occurred.
He should get support from people he sees close to him by establishing good relations with his environment.
He should change his focus by engaging in pleasurable activities.
Even taking a hobby, going on a short trip or taking a walk outside during the day will be good for a diabetic patient.
Activities that will socialize the person, such as cinema, theater or friend meetings, will distract the minds from negative and anxiety-inducing thoughts, even for a short time.
In cases where there is difficulty in adapting to the disease despite all these precautions, it would be appropriate to seek psychiatric help.
Therapy support and, where necessary, drug therapy will facilitate the patients’ coping with current stress factors in this process.
Does Diabetes Cause Numbness In The Tongue?
One symptom of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia is a sudden numbness or tingling sensation in the tongue or lips.
As a result, diabetes and low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can lead to a number of symptoms such as numbness of the mouth and lips.
Is Diabetes Genetic?
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes have different causes.
Genetics is not the only factor that causes the disease.
For example, identical twins have the same genes.
But when one twin has type 1 diabetes, the other will have a 50 percent chance at most.
Again, when one twin has type 2 diabetes, the risk of developing diabetes in the other twin is at most three-quarters.
- What is Diabetes?
- Diabetes symptoms and treatment
- Symptoms & Causes of Diabetes
- Know Your Blood Sugar Numbers: Use Them to Manage Your Diabetes
- Is Diabetes Contagious? And Other Myths Debunked
- Insulin therapy and acute kidney injury in critically ill patients a systematic review
- Diabetic Eye Disease
- Diabetes And Mental Health
- Diabetic Tongue – Could it be a Diagnostic Criterion?
- Learn the Genetics of Diabetes