By Kejal Sheth
The American Diabetes Association Alert Day (Diabetes Alert Day, or simply Diabetes Day) is observed annually on the fourth Tuesday of March. In 2021, this means March 23. Diabetes Alert Day is a one-day “wake-up call” that focuses on the seriousness of diabetes and the importance of understanding your risk.
Diabetes is a group of diseases in which the body doesn’t produce enough or any insulin, doesn’t properly use the insulin that is produced, or exhibits a combination of both. When any of these things happens, the body is unable to get sugar from the blood into the cells. That leads to high blood sugar levels. Glucose, the form of sugar found in your blood, is one of your main energy sources. A lack of insulin or resistance to insulin causes sugar to build up in your blood. This can lead to many health problems.
Different Types of Diabetes
The three main types of diabetes are:
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is believed to be an autoimmune condition. This means that the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. The damage is permanent, but the cause of it is not clear. There may be both genetic and environmental reasons. Lifestyle factors aren’t thought to play a role.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes starts as insulin resistance. This means that the body can’t use insulin efficiently. That stimulates the pancreas to produce more insulin until it can no longer keep up with demand. Insulin production decreases, which leads to high blood sugar.
The exact cause of type 2 diabetes is unknown. Contributing factors may include:
- lack of exercise
- being overweight
There may also be other health factors and environmental reasons.
Early Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes
Most early symptoms are from higher-than-normal levels of glucose, a kind of sugar, in the blood.
The warning signs can be so mild that they can’t be noticed. That’s especially true of type 2 diabetes. Some people don’t find out they have it until they get problems from long-term damage caused by the disease.
With type 1 diabetes, the symptoms usually happen quickly, in a matter of days or a few weeks. They’re much more severe, too.
Early Signs of Diabetes
Both types of diabetes have some of the same telltale warning signs.
- Hunger and fatigue– The body converts the food you eat into glucose that your cells use for energy. But the cells need insulin to take in glucose. If the body doesn’t make enough or any insulin, or if your cells resist the insulin the body makes, the glucose can’t get into them and you have no energy. This can make the person hungrier and more tired than usual.
- Peeing more often and being thirstier. The average person usually has to pee between four and seven times in 24 hours, but people with diabetes may go a lot more. Why? Normally,the body reabsorbs glucose as it passes through your kidneys. But when diabetes pushes the blood sugar up, the kidneys may not be able to bring it all back in. This causes the body to make more urine, and that takes fluids. The person might pee out more, too. Because of peeing so much, the person can get very thirsty. When you drink more, you’ll also pee more.
- Dry mouth and itchy skin. Because the body is using fluids to make pee, there’s less moisture for other things. The person may get dehydrated, and her mouth may feel dry. Dry skin can make you itchy.
- Blurred vision. Changing fluid levels in the body could make the lenses in the eyes well up. They change shape and can’t focus.