Diabetes (diabetes mellitus) is a chronic metabolic disease resulting from impaired secretion or the action of insulin – a hormone produced by the pancreas. What are the causes and types of diabetes? How to recognize the symptoms of diabetes? What tests detect high blood sugar? And how is the treatment of diabetes? Are complications of diabetes dangerous?


Table of Contents


Why is it so important that everyone knows what are the symptoms of diabetes?

If someone in your family has been diagnosed with diabetes, you must be particularly vigilant because you may be prone to this condition.

Because more and more people develop diabetes, especially type II diabetes, called non-insulin dependent.

Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that in 2014, there were 422 million diabetic adults in the world (compared to 1980 million in 1980).

According to the International Diabetes Federation, there are already 642 million people with diabetes in 2040.

Such a rise has many causes – one of them is definitely a lifestyle: we have bad eating habits, we reduce physical activity to a minimum, we “earn” overweight and obesity, smoke cigarettes, abuse alcohol …

If there were cases of illness in the family, the risk of enlarging the army of people with “too sweet blood” automatically increases.

Diabetes: symptoms

The most important symptom of diabetes is high blood glucose, but unfortunately it is not visible to the naked eye.

If you do not have the habit of doing this test regularly, you need to remain vigilant and pay attention to whether you do not feel the following symptoms. Regardless of the type of diabetes (its types are discussed below), the symptoms are quite similar to each other and are usually grouped depending on whether you are diabetic dependent on insulin or not.

Symptoms of type I (insulin dependent) diabetes mellitus:

high thirst and frequent urination

good appetite and weight loss

general weakness, drowsiness

blurred or double vision


If you notice such symptoms in yourself or a loved one, know that you need a medical consultation as soon as possible, and above all, check the level of sugar in your blood.

When the tests ordered by the doctor show that you have excess blood sugar, the next step should be to visit a diabetes clinic.

Although diabetes is a disease that can not be cured, it can be controlled very effectively to avoid serious complications.

The condition is, however, regular glycemic control (i.e. sugar content in blood) and adherence to the instructions of a doctor and dietitian.


Symptoms of Type II diabetes mellitus (non-insulin dependent):

high thirst and frequent urination (although not as severe as in type 1 diabetes)

Type II diabetes (80-90% of patients have it) may not cause any symptoms at the beginning. Sometimes they appear only after a few years, so it is worth observing the reactions of the body to notice suspicious symptoms as soon as possible.

lose weight, despite a normal appetite and diet

out of focus vision

irritability, apathy

fatigue and drowsiness

easy bruising and slower wound healing

recurrent dermatitis, gingivitis or inflammation of the bladder

dry itchy skin

tingling or temporary loss of sensation in the feet

in men – erectile dysfunction

in women – chronic vaginitis


Where do these symptoms come from? The cells of our body need glucose, which they turn into energy.

Glucose can get to them if insulin will help. Sometimes, however, the pancreas produces too little of this hormone or the cells do not want to open it for glucose and start to “starve”.

Then the body, defending against malnutrition, launches mechanisms that increase appetite.

Unfortunately, even if we eat a lot and often, glucose from food will not enter the cells. They will continue to starve.

In this situation, first, the body will start consuming fat reserves and we will be thinner despite the wolf’s appetite, secondly the excess glucose will try to expel as soon as possible with the urine.

First, however, he must dissolve it and hence the increased thirst. And the more we drink, the more we use the toilet. We get rid of fluids, so the body demands to be supplemented. And the wheel closes.


The acidosis is demonstrated by smell of air exhaled by diabetics – it resembles the smell of sour apples.


Diabetes: types

Type 1 diabetes (insulin-dependent diabetes)

It affects 15-20 percent of diabetic patients, its cause is the destruction of pancreatic beta cells responsible for the production and secretion of insulin; Type 1 diabetes is most common in children and young people and in children; you can not prevent it from occurring, and the only way to treat this diabetes is to administer insulin, diet and an active lifestyle (exercise).

LADA type diabetes (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults)

This is the type 1 diabetes mellitus, late-onset autoimmune diabetes mellitus in adults; LADA-type diabetes affects 5-10% of people with diabetes diagnosed after the age of 35; it is necessary to recognize the presence of autoantibodies typical of type 1 diabetes, especially anti-GAD.

Monogenic diabetes

Monogenic diabetes accounts for 1-2 percent of all cases of diabetes; arises as a result of a single mutation, therefore its final diagnosis depends on genetic testing; the most common forms of monogenic diabetes mellitus are MODY diabetes (Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young), mitochondrial diabetes and neonatal diabetes, the majority of which is associated with a defect in insulin secretion.

Type 2 diabetes (non-insulin-dependent diabetes)

It is the diabetes that most often afflicts the elderly, but the reason for the elevated level of glucose in the blood is not the lack of insulin, but its abnormal action in the body (resistance to insulin). The most common type 2 diabetes is accompanied by obesity – about 80-85 percent of all patients suffer from it and arterial hypertension. Treatment of type 2 diabetes is based on the use of appropriate diet, exercise and oral hypoglycemic agents, although some patients progress to insulin over time.

Gestational diabetes

It is a diabetes that is diagnosed during pregnancy, but it disappears after the birth of the child. In the group of women with gestational diabetes there is a higher risk of developing diabetes in the future in comparison to women without this complication. Treatment of this form of diabetes should only be carried out in specialized gynecological and diabetic centers.

Secondary diabetes

It is a group of diabetes that together account for about 2-3% of all forms of diabetes in Europe and North America. Characteristic for this form are other disorders or disease syndromes coexisting with diabetes.


The most common causes of secondary diabetes are:

some medicines used in cardiovascular diseases (thiazides or other diuretics, especially in combination with beta blockers, steroids and others)

some diseases of the endocrine glands (endocrinopathies) – Cushing’s disease and Cushing’s syndrome, acromegaly, hyperthyroidism, phaeochromocytoma, a glucagon-secreting tumor

genetically conditioned metabolic diseases – hemochromatosis

pancreatic diseases – chronic pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, state after pancreatectomy (surgical removal of the pancreas)

Secondary diabetes also includes diabetes with insufficient and defective nutrition – it is found mainly among the indigenous population of the tropic zone in Asia, Africa and South America, where malnutrition and hunger are common.


Blood Glucose Rate

Standards of sugar in children and adults differ, in women and men are almost the same. The value of the concentration of glucose in the blood is affected by whether a person makes a test on an empty stomach or after a meal.

In adults

The permissible rate of sugar in the blood of women is 3.5–5.8 mmol / l (the same is also observed for the representatives of the stronger sex), these values ​​are characteristic of the analysis carried out in the morning on an empty stomach. The figures given are true for fingertip blood collection. Analysis from a vein suggests normal values ​​from 3.7 to 6.1 mmol / l. An increase in performance to 6.9 from a vein and to 6 from a finger indicates a condition called prediabetes. Pre-diabetes is a state of impaired glucose tolerance and impaired glucose. With indicators of blood sugar more than 6.1 – from a finger and 7 – from a vein, the patient is diagnosed with diabetes.

In some cases, a blood test should be taken immediately, and there is a high probability that the patient has already consumed food. In this case, the blood sugar standards in adults will vary from 4 to 7.8 mmol / l. Departure from the norm to a smaller or larger side requires additional analysis.

In children

In children, blood sugar levels vary according to the age of the babies. In newborns, normal values ​​range from 2.8 to 4.4 mmol / l. For children aged 1-5 years, indicators from 3.3 to 5.0 mmol / liter are considered normal. The rate of blood sugar in children older than five years is identical with adult indicators. Indicators exceeding the value of 6.1 mmol / liter indicate the presence of diabetes.

Have pregnant

With the onset of pregnancy, the body finds new ways of working, at first it is difficult to adapt to new reactions, failures often occur, as a result of which the results of many tests and tests deviate from the norm. Blood sugar levels differ from normal values ​​for an adult. The norms of blood sugar for women, waiting for the appearance of a child, are in the range from 3.8 to 5.8 mmol / liter. When a higher value is obtained, a woman is prescribed additional tests.

Sometimes during pregnancy there is a state of gestational diabetes. This pathological process occurs in the second half of pregnancy, after the appearance of the child passes independently. However, if there are certain risk factors after childbirth, gestational diabetes can turn into sugar. In order to prevent the development of a serious disease, it is necessary to constantly take blood tests for sugar, follow the recommendations of the doctor.


Diabetes: blood sugar tables

Below are the summary tables with information about the concentration of sugar in the blood, its value for human health.

Note! The presented information does not give 100% accuracy, as each patient is individual.

Blood sugar standards – table:

Patient category  – Norm

Adults – 3.5-5.5 mmol / liter

Newborn babies – 2.8-4.4 mmol / liter

Children aged 1 to 5 years – 3.3-5.0 mmol / liter

Children over 5 years old – 3.5-5.5 mmol / liter

Pregnant women – 3.8-5.8 mmol / liter

Diabetes: treatment

Treatment of diabetes is not only about normalizing blood sugar, but also preventing complications.

In type 1 diabetes, the main treatment is insulin – human insulin with intermediate duration of action or long-acting insulin analogs are used. Maintaining proper glycemia is based on patient’s self-control – repeated measurement of blood sugar level, regular insulin intake, adequate dose of movement and healthy, balanced diet.

The treatment of type 2 diabetes should be multifaceted, with the patient’s education and involvement in the treatment process of great importance – specialists emphasize the huge responsibility that falls on the shoulders of diabetes educators.

Diabetic educator at NFZ

This is because it is impossible to control glycemic control to a satisfactory degree without changing the lifestyle – the diet should be consistent with the principles of healthy nutrition and the dose of exercise adjusted to the patient’s ability.

The first-line treatment for type 2 diabetes is metformin, which reduces insulin resistance.

And there are other drugs for the treatment of type 2 diabetes:


If they do not lower blood glucose, then insulin is implemented.


Diabetes: complications

Proper treatment of diabetes is also important because decompensated diabetes carries the risk of many complications, which may be both early (acute), occurring as a result of fluctuations in blood sugar levels, and late (chronic), which is caused by an overstated sugar for many years.

Early (acute) complications of diabetes:


lactic acidosis



Hyperglycemic-hyperosmolar syndrome

Acute complications of diabetes, if properly and quickly treated, do not cause permanent damage, but if they do not react at the right time, they can lead to diabetic coma and even death.

Late (chronic) complications of diabetes:

diabetic retinopathy (eye damage)

Diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage)

diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease)

heart diseases


diabetic foot

Late, or chronic diabetic complications are the result of elevated blood sugar levels for a long time.

Its effect is damage to blood vessels – both small (microangiopathy) and large vessels (macroangiopathy).

It happens that chronic complications of diabetes appear faster than the disease itself – this is because most of us do not perform basic blood sugar tests too often.

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