Diabetes mellitus is a group of metabolic diseases that affect the body’s ability to use glucose for energy. All forms of diabetes are characterized by hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).
Primary diabetes mellitus is type 1 diabetes, which is a lifelong autoimmune disease. It is caused by the destruction of insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. This leads to insufficient insulin production and hyperglycemia.
Primary diabetes mellitus is rare, and only occurs in about 1 out of every 25,000 people. It is most often found in young adults and children.
Secondary diabetes mellitus is the result of problems in the digestive tract, pancreas, or kidneys. It is a long-term complication of diabetes. It is usually diagnosed in people who have diabetes and are over the age of 40.
Symptoms of diabetes
Symptoms of diabetes may not be immediately obvious. Most people with diabetes will have some symptoms, including:
- Frequent urination
- Difficulty concentrating
- Blurry vision
- Increased thirst
- Increased hunger
In some people, the symptoms of diabetes may not be noticeable until blood sugar levels are high enough to cause damage to the organs, including the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and blood vessels.
A doctor may diagnose diabetes by:
- Checking blood glucose levels
- Performing a physical exam
- Performing tests to look at the blood
- Performing a test to look at urine to check for sugar
- Performing a test to look at the liver function
- Performing a test to look at the sugar in the urine
Diabetes and pregnancy
Women who are pregnant with diabetes should be cautious with the amounts of sugar they eat. Eating high-fat foods or sugary drinks may cause the blood sugar level to rise too high. This may cause pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure) and other complications.
Diabetes and heart disease
High blood sugar can damage blood vessels and heart cells. People with diabetes have a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.
Diabetes and eye disease
Diabetes can damage the blood vessels that supply blood to the retina. The retina is the light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the eye. If there is damage to the retina, it can lead to vision loss.
Diabetes and kidney disease
For diabetics, the kidneys are more likely to have disease. This may cause:
- High blood pressure
- High levels of protein
- High levels of albumin
Diabetes and dementia
Diabetes and dementia can share many risk factors. This includes:
- High blood sugar
- High blood fats
- High blood lipids
Diabetes and other conditions
Other conditions that may increase the risk of diabetes include:
- Thyroid disease. When the thyroid gland is underactive, the body does not produce enough hormones, and the body has trouble producing insulin.
- An autoimmune condition. This is when the immune system attacks the cells that produce insulin.
- Chronic infections. Certain infections, such as H. pylori, often cause the immune system to attack the pancreas. This leads to high blood sugar.
- Endocrine disorders. Diabetes is often a symptom of other endocrine disorders.
- Chronic kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease increases the risk of blood sugar levels that are too high.
- Liver disease. When the liver is injured, it releases chemicals that can increase the levels of sugar in the blood.
- Sleep apnea. This is when the airways collapse while people sleep.
Diabetes and cancer
People with diabetes are more likely to develop certain types of cancer, such as:
- Lung cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Colon cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Skin cancer
- Bladder cancer
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
People with diabetes often have no symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they may include:
- Frequent urinating
- Excessive thirst
- Blurred vision
- Unexplained weight loss
- Frequent infections
What are the causes of diabetes?
The causes of diabetes are not fully understood. It is believed that it may be related to:
- Genetics. People with a family history of diabetes have a higher risk of developing it.
- Age. People over the age of 40 are at the highest risk of developing diabetes.
- Hormones. The hormones insulin and growth hormone (GH) are produced by the pancreas. In people with diabetes, the body no longer produces these hormones.
- Hormones. The cells that produce insulin are destroyed by the immune system. This leads the body to produce GH. The body then releases the insulin-making proteins and takes in glucose.
- The foods we take in. Some foods, such as refined sugar and alcohol, can increase blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
- Weight gain. Obesity can contribute to diabetes by causing fat cells to overproduce insulin.
- Stress. Stress can increase blood sugar levels by releasing the stress hormone cortisol.
- Insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can occur when the body is not producing enough insulin.
- Diet. Eating too much fat will cause the body to release more insulin.
- Physical activity. Physical activity can help lower blood sugar levels.
- Medications. Some medications can cause high blood sugar levels.
How is diabetes diagnosed?
To diagnose diabetes, your doctor will first perform a physical exam. They will also review your medical history and perform a blood test.
The blood test will help your doctor determine your:
- Blood sugar levels
- Insulin levels
- Glucose tolerance
- Insulin resistance
- Blood fats
How is diabetes treated?
Treating diabetes involves a combination of lifestyle and medical treatments.
Lifestyle changes are often the first step in treating diabetes. These changes include:
- Cutting down on sugar and fat
- Eating more lean proteins
- Eating more whole grains
- Eating more fruits and vegetables
- Eating less processed foods
- Getting more exercise
Your doctor may prescribe medications to help manage your blood sugar. There are several types of medications that are used to treat diabetes.
- DPP-4 inhibitors
- Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors
- SGLT2 inhibitors
- GLP-1 agonists
Your doctor may also prescribe a combination of medications, such as:
- Metformin with a sulfonylurea
- Metformin with a thiazolidinedione
- Sulfonylureas with metformin
- DPP-4 inhibitors with metformin
- SGLT2 inhibitors with metformin
- GLP-1 agonists with metformin
- Insulin with metformin
What is the long-term outlook?
There is no cure for diabetes. However, there are many ways to manage the condition.
Your doctor can help you create a diabetes management plan that is best for you. This plan will include:
- Lifestyle changes
Is there a connection between diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease?
Many people with diabetes have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. This is due to the effects of diabetes on the brain.
Diabetes can affect the brain by:
- Interfering with the production of insulin. This can lead to high blood sugar levels and damage in the brain.
- Impairing glucose metabolism. The blood glucose level in the brain can become too high.
- Increasing the risk of certain brain health conditions.
- Increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
What is the takeaway?
People with diabetes are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. This is because diabetes can interfere with the brain’s ability to produce insulin, which is needed to produce glucose.
Diabetes can also increase the risk of developing a few other diseases. These include:
- Cardiovascular disease
- High blood lipids (cholesterol)
- High blood sugar (glucose)
- High blood triglycerides
- Hypertension (high blood tension)
- Eye disease
- Kidney disease
How is diabetes connected to Alzheimer’s disease?
Diabetes is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. It has been found that people with Alzheimer’s disease have lower levels of insulin than do people who do not have Alzheimer’s disease.
Diabetes also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. People with Alzheimer’s disease are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. Diabetes can cause insulin resistance in the body, which can lead to cardiovascular disease.
Diabetes and Alzheimer’s have also been linked to high blood lipids. People with Alzheimer’s disease have higher blood lipids than do people without Alzheimer’s disease. Diabetes can lead to insulin resistance, which can increase blood lipids.
Diabetes and Alzheimer’s can also increase the risk of other conditions, including:
- High blood sugar levels
- High blood pressures
It is important to get tested for diabetes if you have Alzheimer’s disease. Early detection can help prevent complications.
Living with diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic condition. This means that it will not go away once you reach an ideal level of health. Instead, it will continue to get worse until you reach a point where it does not improve.
If you have diabetes, you may need to make lifestyle changes to manage your condition. These changes can include:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Exercising regularly
- Eating a nutritious diet
- Losing weight
- Eating healthy fat
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Not smoking
You should talk to your doctor before making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.
Diabetes has a lot to do with Alzheimer’s disease. It can increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by interfering with the brain’s ability to produce insulin.
Diabetes can also increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, high blood fats, high blood pressures, and high blood sugar levels. People with Alzheimer’s disease are more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases, high blood lipids, and high blood sugar levels.
Diabetes and Alzheimer’s have also been found to cause high blood fats and high blood pressures. People with both conditions are more likely to develop high blood fats and high blood pressures.
People with diabetes are more likely to develop depression. This is because diabetes can increase the risk of depression. If you have both conditions, you are more likely to develop both conditions.
Living with Alzheimer’s disease can be difficult. You may need to manage your diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease at the same time.
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