Diabetes has become a huge concern in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 84 million American adults have prediabetes – a health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not so high to be diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes. Interestingly, a huge 90 percent of people with prediabetes don’t know they have it and are therefore susceptible to developing Type 2 diabetes.
Having diabetes makes it difficult for your body to properly process and use glucose from the food you eat. There are various types of diabetes, each with different causes. Some types of diabetes can be prevented by discarding harmful habits and adopting a healthy lifestyle. What is diabetes and what causes blood sugar to be high?
Diabetes occurs when your body is unable to take up sugar – in form of glucose – into its cells and process it for energy. This results in an accumulation of extra sugar in your bloodstream. Poor management of diabetes can cause various complications to your body’s organs including your heart, kidneys, and eyes.
There are different types of diabetes as will be explained subsequently. Fortunately, Type 2 diabetes, which represents the vast majority of diagnosed diabetes cases, can be prevented. The condition can also be managed without medication through lifestyle changes. On the other hand, Type 1 diabetes mostly has genetic roots and as such is not preventable.
If you are wondering what causes blood sugar to be high, you need to understand the process first. Digestion occurs when food is broken down into various different nutrient sources. For example, when you consume carbohydrates, your body system breaks it down into sugar or glucose. However, the glucose in your bloodstream needs help in form of insulin to get to its final destination which are your body’s cells.
Insulin is a hormone secreted by your pancreas, which is an organ located behind your stomach. Insulin unlocks your cell wall to allow glucose to enter your body’s cells. This glucose is what provides the energy your body tissues and organs need to function optimally.
Now, if you have diabetes, there are two case scenarios:
If the glucose in your bloodstream can’t get into your body’s cells, your blood glucose level automatically rises. So, this is basically what causes blood sugar to be high.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, which means your body is attacking itself. Here, the cells that produce insulin in your pancreas are destroyed. It’s usually diagnosed in children and young adults, although it can also develop at any age. People who suffer from this type of diabetes need to take insulin every day.
With type 2 diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or your body’s cells don’t respond to the insulin as it normally should. It is the most prevalent type of diabetes and occurs mostly in middle-aged and older people.
As the name implies, this type of diabetes precedes Type 2 diabetes. Here, your blood glucose levels are quite high, but not high enough to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
Gestational diabetes develops in some women during pregnancy. Often times, it goes away after giving birth. However, if you have gestational diabetes you’re at more risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later on in life.
People with prediabetes do not usually experience symptoms in the early stages. That said, some common signs of Type 1 and 2 diabetes include:
Managing diabetes involves taking crucial steps to put your risk factors in check. Here are some tips to bear in mind:
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