Diabetes mellitus, commonly known as diabetes, is a metabolic disease that causes high blood sugar. The hormone insulin moves sugar from the blood into your cells to be stored or used for energy. With diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t effectively use the insulin it does make.
Untreated high blood sugar from diabetes can damage your nerves, eyes, kidneys, and other organs.
There are a few different types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. The immune system attacks and destroys cells in the pancreas, where insulin is made. It’s unclear what causes this attack. About 10 percent of people with diabetes have this type.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body becomes resistant to insulin, and sugar builds up in your blood.
Prediabetes occurs when your blood sugar is higher than normal, but it’s not high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar during pregnancy. Insulin-blocking hormones produced by the placenta cause this type of diabetes.
A rare condition called diabetes insipidus is not related to diabetes mellitus, although it has a similar name. It’s a different condition in which your kidneys remove too much.
Symptoms of diabetes
Diabetes symptoms are caused by rising blood sugar.
The general symptoms of diabetes include:
sores that don’t heal
Symptoms in men
In addition to the general symptoms of diabetes, men with diabetes may have a decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction (ED), and poor muscle strength.
Symptoms in women
Women with diabetes can also have symptoms such as urinary tract infections, yeast infections, and dry, itchy skin.
Type 1 diabetes
Symptoms of type 1 diabetes can include:
unintentional weight loss
It may also result in mood changes.
Type 2 diabetes
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes can include:
sores that are slow to heal
It may also cause recurring infections. This is because elevated glucose levels make it harder for the body to heal.
Most women with gestational diabetes don’t have any symptoms. The condition is often detected during a routine blood sugar test or oral glucose tolerance test that is usually performed between the 24th and 28th weeks of gestation.
In rare cases, a woman with gestational diabetes will also experience increased thirst or urination.
Diabetes symptoms can be so mild that they’re hard to spot at first. Learn which signs should prompt a trip to the doctor.
Causes of diabetes
Different causes are associated with each type of diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes
Doctors don’t know exactly what causes type 1 diabetes. For some reason, the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.
Genes may play a role in some people. It’s also possible that a virus sets off the immune system attack.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes stems from a combination of genetics and lifestyle factors. Being overweight or obese increases your risk too. Carrying extra weight, especially in your belly, makes your cells more resistant to the effects of insulin on your blood sugar.
This condition runs in families. Family members share genes that make them more likely to get type 2 diabetes and to be overweight.
Gestational diabetes is the result of hormonal changes during pregnancy. The placenta produces hormones that make a pregnant woman’s cells less sensitive to the effects of insulin. This can cause high blood sugar during pregnancy.
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