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Diabetes – types, symptoms, risk factors and complications

Diabetes is one of the most common diseases of modern society. Worldwide it is considered that there are over 200 million people with diabetes, and according to the International Federation of diabetes, this number will reach 350 million by 2025.

What is diabetes and what causes it?

Diabetes is a chronic disease characterized by elevated levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. The level of glucose in the blood is controlled by insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas. The task of insulin is to help move the glucose from the blood into cells, where it dissolves and gets energy. People suffering from diabetes, regardless of type, have elevated glucose because their bodies can not transfer glucose into the cells. Reasons for this may be:

Insufficient production of insulin by the pancreas
Disrupted response of cells to insulin
Both reasons simultaneously.

Types of diabetes

There are three types of diabetes:

Diabetes type 1 (insulin dependent diabetes)

It is a autoimmune disease with possible genetic predisposition. It occurs at any age, but most commonly with children, teenagers or young adults. In this type of diabetes the pancreas produces little or no insulin creates.

Diabetes type 2 (insulin independent diabetes)

This is the most common form of diabetes. Mostly it affects adults, but in recent years it also occurs with teens and young adults due to excessive weight gain. With this type of diabetes, the pancreas often produces insulin, but the amount of it isn’t sufficient for the needs of the organism or the cells are resistant to insulin.

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is characterized by high levels of glucose in the blood and occurs in any period of pregnancy with women who had not suffered from diabetes. This condition must be controlled because it can affect the normal growth and development of the baby. Approximately 2-4% of pregnant women are affected by gestational diabetes.

Symptoms and signs

Symptoms and signs depending on the level of sugar in the blood, but people with type 2 diabetes despite elevated blood glucose, may initially not have any symptoms. But in type 1 diabetes, symptoms usually manifest faster and more severe.
Some of the signs and symptoms are:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow healing of wounds
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Common infections (infections of palate, skin, vagina, bladder)
  • The presence of ketones in the urine (ketones are products resulting from the breakdown of muscle and fat tissue due to deficiency of insulin).

Risk factors

Risk factors for diabetes depends on the type of disease.

Risk factors for type 1 diabetes

  • Taking antibodies
  • Exposure to certain viral diseases
  • Increased intake of vitamin E
  • Giving cow’s milk at an early age

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes

  • Obesity
  • Decreased physical activity
  • Diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in a family member – parent, brother or sister
  • Gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • High levels of triglycerides

Risk factors for gestational diabetes

  • Women older than 25 years
  • Diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in a family member – parent, brother or sister
  • Gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
  • The birth of a baby overweight (more than 4kg)
  • Dead born for unknown reasons
  • Obesity
  • Large weight gain during pregnancy


Complications of diabetes develop gradually. The longer you have diabetes and the less control blood sugar, the greater is the risk of complications. Over time, complications of diabetes can lead to the loss of a particular capability or be fatal.
Possible complications include:

  • Visual impairment
  • Common skin infections
  • Heart attack, stroke, abnormal movement of blood in the legs
  • Nerve damage that occurs because of tingling, loss of feeling sensation, pain
  • Kidney damage
  • Increased risk of certain cancers
  • Fortunately, diabetes is easily diagnosed, and with proper education it can be prevented and controlled.

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