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What is diabetes?

Diabetes is in general a disorder of metabolism. It is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin – thehormone that is needed to convert glucose (form of sugar in the blood), starches and other food into energy. Insulin is produced by the pancreas, a large gland behind the stomach.
When people eat, the pancreas should automatically produce the right amount of insulin to move glucose from blood into the cells. In diabetes the pancreas either produces little or no insulin, or the cells do not respond appropriately to the insulin that is produced. When one of these situations happen, glucose builds up in the blood, overflows into the urine and passes out of the body. In conclusion, the body loses its main source of energy even though the blood contains large amounts of glucose.

What causes diabetes?

The cause of diabetes is still a mystery, however, both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles.
Diabetes might be caused by:
1. Genetic defects of the beta cell (the part of the pancreas that makes insulin), such as maturity. It may begin diabetes of the young (MODY) or neonatal diabetes mellitus (NDM)
2. Genetic defects in insulin action, that leads to lack of ability to control blood glucose levels, as seen in leprechaunism and the Rabson-Mendenhall syndrome
3. Diseases of the pancreas or conditions that damage the pancreas, such as pancreatitis and cystic fibrosis
4. Excess amounts of certain hormones caused by some medical conditions, such as cortisol in Cushing’s syndrome, that work against the action of insulin
5. Medications that reduce insulin action, such as glucocorticoids, or chemicals that destroy beta cells
6. Infections, such as congenital rubella and cytomegalovirus
7. Rare immune-mediated disorders, such as stiff-man syndrome or an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system

Types of diabetes.

There are three main types of diabetes:

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease -  when the body’s defense system turns against a part of the body. In diabetes, it attacks and destroys beta cells in the pancreas resulting in little or no insulin production. A person who has type 1 diabetes must take insulin daily to live.
Symptoms of type 1 diabetes usually grow over a short period. These are increased thirst and urination, constant hunger, weight loss, blurred vision, and extreme fatigue. If not diagnosed and treated with insulin, a person with type 1 diabetes can lapse into a life-threatening diabetic coma.

Type 2 Diabetes

This type of diabetes is the most common one. About 90 to 95 percent of people with diabetes have type 2. It is most often associated with older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, and physical inactivity. Studies indicated that about 80 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight. In type 2 diabetes the pancreas is usually producing enough insulin, but for unknown reasons the body cannot use the insulin effectively. This condition is known as insulin resistance. After several years, insulin production decreases and the result is the same as for type 1 diabetes.
The symptoms of type 2 diabetes develop gradually. They may include fatigue, frequent urination, increased thirst and hunger, weight loss, blurred vision, and slow healing of wounds or sores. Sometimes people have no symptoms.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is caused by the hormones of pregnancy or a shortage of insulin. Women with gestational diabetes may not experience any symptoms. Some women develop gestational diabetes in late pregnancy. This form of diabetes usually vanish after the birth of the baby, however, women who had gestational diabetes have a 40 to 60 percent chance of developing type 2 diabetes within 5 to 10 years. To prevent development of type 2 It is recommended to maintain a reasonable body weight and physically activity.

Symptoms of Diabetes

It is hard to diagnose diabetes because many of its symptoms seem to be harmless. Recent studies have shown that the early detection of diabetes symptoms and treatment can decrease the chance of developing the complications of diabetes.

Diabetes symptoms include:
-Frequent urination
-Excessive thirst
-Extreme hunger
-Unusual weight loss
-Increased fatigue
-Blurry vision

What is pre-diabetes?

In people with pre-diabetes blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. This condition increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease or a stroke. Nevertheless, people with pre-diabetes can prevent or delay diabetes by losing 5 to 7 percent of their body weight through diet and increased physical activity.
The impact of diabetes.
In general, diabetes is associated with long-term complications that affect almost every part of the body. This disease often leads to blindness, heart and blood vessel disease, stroke, kidney failure, amputations, and nerve damage. Uncontrolled diabetes can cause difficulties  in pregnancy, and birth defects are more common in babies born to women with diabetes.

How is diabetes diagnosed?

For diagnosing diabetes it is recommended to do Fasting Plasma Glucose Test (FPG) - a blood glucose level of 126 milli grams per deciliter (mg/dL) or higher after an 8-hour fast,or an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) - a blood glucose level of 200 mg/dL or higher 2 hours after drinking a beverage containing 75 grams of glucose dissolved in water.
Gestational diabetes is diagnosed based on blood glucose levels measured during the OGTT.
Tests are more reliable when done in the morning. A person with a fasting blood glucose level of 126 mg/dl or higher has diabetes.
In the OGTT test, if the two-hour blood glucose level is between 140 and 199 mg/dl, the person tested has pre-diabetes. If the two-hour blood glucose level is at 200 mg/dl or higher, the person tested has diabetes
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