Living with diabetes can be challenging, but armed with knowledge and a proactive approach, you can take control of your health and lead a fulfilling life. In this blog post, we will explore what diabetes is, delve into its different types, discuss common secondary ailments, and provide essential diet tips to help you manage your condition effectively. So, let’s dive in and empower ourselves with valuable information!

Understanding Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder that affects how your body processes glucose, a crucial source of energy. In this condition, the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin (a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels) or cannot utilize it effectively. As a result, glucose accumulates in the bloodstream, leading to high blood sugar levels. Every year, an estimated 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diabetes affects over 34 million Americans, approximately 10.5% of the population.

Types of Diabetes

  • Type 1 Diabetes: Typically diagnosed during childhood or adolescence, type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Individuals with type 1 diabetes require lifelong insulin therapy.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: This form of diabetes is more common and typically develops in adulthood. It occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or fails to produce enough insulin. Type 2 diabetes can often be managed with lifestyle modifications, including diet and exercise, and in some cases, medication.
  • Gestational Diabetes: This type occurs during pregnancy when hormonal changes affect insulin utilization. It usually resolves after delivery, but women who experience gestational diabetes are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
  • Prediabetes: A serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.
  • Type 3c Diabetes: In the past, diabetes resulting from exocrine pancreas diseases was termed pancreatogenic or pancreatogenous diabetes mellitus. However, contemporary literature now designates it as type 3c diabetes. It is crucial to emphasize that type 3c diabetes comprises a range of exocrine pancreatic diseases, each with distinct mechanisms causing hyperglycemia.

What Causes Diabetes?

Diabetes occurs when an excess of glucose circulates in your bloodstream, irrespective of the type. However, the specific cause for elevated blood glucose levels varies depending on the type of diabetes.

Insulin resistance primarily contributes to the development of Type 2 diabetes. It occurs when cells in your muscles, fat, and liver do not respond adequately to insulin, the hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. Various factors such as obesity, lack of physical activity, diet, hormonal imbalances, genetics, and certain medications can contribute to varying degrees of insulin resistance.

For Type 1 diabetes and Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA), the underlying cause is an autoimmune disease. In these conditions, your immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas.

Hormonal imbalances also play a role in diabetes development. During pregnancy, the placenta releases hormones that induce insulin resistance. If your pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to overcome this resistance, you may develop gestational diabetes. Additionally, conditions such as acromegaly and Cushing’s Syndrome, which involve hormonal imbalances, can also contribute to the onset of Type 2 diabetes.

Pancreatic damage can impair insulin production, leading to Type 3c diabetes. Physical damage to the pancreas resulting from a medical condition, surgery, or injury can hinder its ability to produce insulin effectively.

Certain genetic mutations are responsible for MODY (Maturity-Onset Diabetes of the Young) and neonatal diabetes, two rare forms of diabetes with a genetic basis.

Long-term use of certain medications can also lead to Type 2 diabetes, including HIV/AIDS medications and corticosteroids.

By understanding the specific factors and conditions associated with each type of diabetes, we can better comprehend the underlying causes and tailor appropriate management strategies.

How Is Diabetes Diagnosed?

Healthcare providers diagnose diabetes by checking your glucose level in a blood test. Three tests can measure your blood glucose level:

  • Fasting Blood Glucose Test: For this test, you don’t eat or drink anything except water (fast) for at least eight hours before the test. As food can greatly affect blood sugar, this test allows your provider to see your baseline blood sugar.
  • Random Blood Glucose Test: “Random” means that you can get this test at any time, regardless of if you’ve fasted.
  • A1C: This test, also called HbA1C or glycated hemoglobin test, provides your average blood glucose level over the past two to three months.

To screen for and diagnose gestational diabetes, providers order an oral glucose tolerance test.

Living With Diabetes: Common Symptoms

Common symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Increased thirst (polydipsia) and dry mouth.
  • Frequent urination.
  • Fatigue.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Numbness or tingling in your hands or feet.
  • Slow-healing sores or cuts.
  • Frequent skin and/or vaginal yeast infections.

In addition, each type of diabetes may be associated with unique symptoms:

  • Type 1 Diabetes: Those diagnosed with type 1 diabetes may develop additional symptoms that are signs of a severe complication called diabetes related ketoacidosis (DKA)DKA is life-threatening and requires immediate medical treatment. DKA symptoms include vomiting, stomach pains, fruity-smelling breath and labored breathing.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: You may not have any symptoms at all, or you may not notice them since they develop slowly. Routine bloodwork may show a high blood sugar level before you recognize symptoms.
  • Prediabetes: A possible sign of prediabetes is darkened skin on certain parts of your body known as acanthosis nigricans.

Secondary Ailments Associated with Diabetes

  • Cardiovascular Disease: Diabetes increases the risk of heart disease, including conditions like heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure. Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, along with regular exercise and a balanced diet, can help mitigate these risks.
  • Diabetic Retinopathy: This condition affects the eyes and can lead to vision loss or even blindness if left unmanaged. Regular eye exams and good blood sugar control are essential for preventing or managing diabetic retinopathy.
  • Diabetic Retinopathy: This condition affects the eyes and can lead to vision loss or even blindness if left unmanaged. Regular eye exams and good blood sugar control are essential for preventing or managing diabetic retinopathy.
  • Diabetic Neuropathy: Nerve damage resulting from high blood sugar levels can cause numbness, tingling, or pain, usually in the hands and feet. Proper diabetes management, including blood sugar control, regular exercise, and a healthy lifestyle, can help reduce the risk of developing diabetic neuropathy.

Additionally, living with diabetes can also affect your mental health. People with diabetes are two to three times more likely to have depression than people without diabetes.

Managing Diabetes

Managing diabetes involves implementing various strategies due to the complexity of the condition. Furthermore, since diabetes impacts individuals uniquely, healthcare providers tailor management plans to suit each person’s specific needs.

  • Regular Blood Sugar Monitoring: Monitoring your blood sugar levels regularly is essential to understand how your body responds to different foods, activities, and medications. Use a blood glucose monitor as recommended by your healthcare provider and keep a record of your readings.
  • Medication and Insulin Therapy: Depending on the type of diabetes, your healthcare provider may prescribe medications or insulin therapy to help regulate blood sugar levels. Take your medications as prescribed, and if you require insulin, learn proper injection techniques and follow the recommended dosing schedule.
  • Regular Physical Activity: Engaging in regular exercise offers numerous benefits for diabetes management. It helps improve insulin sensitivity, lowers blood sugar levels, promotes weight management, and enhances cardiovascular health. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, along with strength training exercises.
  • Stress Management: Chronic stress can elevate blood sugar levels. Incorporate stress management techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or engaging in hobbies that help you relax and unwind. Prioritizing self-care and seeking support from friends, family, or a therapist can also be beneficial.
  • Regular Check-ups and Health Screenings: Schedule regular visits with your healthcare team to monitor your diabetes management progress and identify any potential complications early on. This includes regular A1C tests, blood pressure checks, cholesterol screenings, and eye and foot exams.
  • Lifestyle Modifications: Quit smoking if you smoke, as smoking can exacerbate diabetes complications. Limit alcohol consumption, as it can affect blood sugar control and interact with diabetes medications. Aim for quality sleep of 7-9 hours per night, as inadequate sleep can impact blood sugar regulation.
  • Diabetes Education and Support: Stay informed about diabetes management through educational resources, workshops, and support groups. Connecting with others who have diabetes can provide valuable insights and emotional support throughout your journey.

Diabetes management is a lifelong commitment, and it may require adjustments along the way. Regular communication with your healthcare team and proactive self-care are key to successfully managing your diabetes and promoting overall well-being.

Diet Tips for Diabetes Management

Adopting a balanced and nutritious diet is crucial for diabetes management.

  • Embrace a Balanced Plate: Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, one-quarter with lean protein sources (such as fish, poultry, or tofu), and one-quarter with whole grains or starchy vegetables. This approach helps control blood sugar levels and promotes overall health.
  • Choose Complex Carbohydrates: Opt for whole grains, legumes, and fiber-rich foods that have a slower impact on blood sugar levels. They provide sustained energy and help maintain stable blood sugar levels throughout the day.
  • Limit Added Sugars: Minimize the consumption of sugary beverages, candies, and processed foods high in added sugars. These can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels and contribute to weight gain.
  • Portion Control: Pay attention to portion sizes to prevent overeating. Using smaller plates, measuring food quantities, and being mindful of hunger and fullness cues can help regulate your intake and promote weight management.
  • Stay Hydrated: Choose water as your primary beverage and limit sugary drinks. Proper hydration supports overall health and helps control blood sugar levels.


Living with diabetes requires a proactive and well-informed approach. By understanding the different types of diabetes, being aware of potential secondary ailments, and adopting a healthy diet, you can effectively manage your condition and lead a fulfilling life. Remember, small lifestyle changes can make a significant impact on your overall well-being, so take charge of your health today and embark on a journey towards better diabetes management.

If you believe you are experiencing symptoms of diabetes or would like to have your blood-sugar levels tested, don’t wait; visit your local urgent care center or a PCP for testing and treatment.

If you are experiencing life threatening symptoms, or severe pain; visit the nearest ER or dial 911 immediately.

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