Managing Diabetes: Early Signs, Causes, Complications, and Treatment

Jia Hui

Jia Hui is a content marketer who loves helping others and hopes to make this world a kinder place in any way she can.

Jia Hui

Jia Hui is a content marketer who loves helping others and hopes to make this world a kinder place in any way she can.

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Diabetes mellitus can strike anyone at any time. It doesn’t choose gender or age, so it is best to guard yourself with sufficient information about the condition, especially its symptoms.

It’s a metabolic disease that makes it difficult for the body to produce enough insulin or use the insulin it makes effectively. As a result, the patient will experience rising blood glucose levels that can get worse later in life if not properly managed and left untreated.

The most common type of this health problem is type 2 diabetes. But symptoms of type 2
diabetes often starts mild and many people fail to recognise they already have it.

Retire Genie will delve further into what we must know about diabetes mellitus and its types, including type 2 diabetes. What does it mean to live with high blood sugar? What are the symptoms of diabetes mellitus, and when do you know it’s time to see a doctor?

Let’s begin by learning more about this health condition caused by an elevated blood sugar level.

Defining Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects millions of people of any age and gender, but despite being widely prevalent, many misconceptions surround this complex disorder. The condition happens due to elevated blood glucose levels.

The body needs glucose as a source of energy, but diabetes impairs its capacity to control blood sugar levels. The imbalance happens due to inadequate pancreatic hormone production or utilisation of insulin.

The Different Types of Diabetes

While diabetes is commonly associated with high blood glucose levels, it’s important to recognise that there are various forms of the disease, each with its own specific symptoms and treatment options.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder sometimes referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes or juvenile-onset diabetes. It happens when the immune system unintentionally targets and kills the pancreatic cells that produce insulin, resulting in the body’s production of little to no insulin.

The symptoms of type 1 diabetes can happen at any age, typically in childhood or adolescence. People with this condition need lifelong insulin therapy to control their blood glucose levels, which must start once they observe the symptoms of type 1 diabetes.

Effective management of type 1 diabetes requires regular blood sugar monitoring, carbohydrate counting, and a balanced lifestyle.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type, accounting for about 90% of all diabetes cases. Although the symptoms of type 2 diabetes manifest in maturity, the risk of type 2 diabetes is becoming more common in children and adolescents due to lifestyle circumstances.

In type 2 diabetes, the body either stops producing enough insulin to keep blood glucose levels within normal range or develops a resistance to the effects of insulin. Its development is significantly influenced by lifestyle variables such as genetic susceptibility, obesity, bad eating habits, and sedentary behaviour.

Lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet, exercising regularly, weight control, taking oral medications, and occasionally using insulin therapy, are all part of managing Type 2 diabetes.

Type 1.5 Diabetes (LADA)

Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA), also known as Type 1.5 diabetes, has the characteristics of both Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. Since LADA commonly manifests in adults, it is frequently misdiagnosed initially as Type 2 diabetes.

In comparison, Type 1.5 diabetes advances more slowly than Type 2 diabetes and eventually requires insulin therapy and certain medicines your doctor will prescribe. Autoantibodies linked to Type 1 diabetes are frequently present in people with Type 1.5 diabetes, suggesting an autoimmune component. For effective management and therapy, a proper diagnosis and regular consultation with your doctor are a must.

Gestational Diabetes

About 2 to 10% of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes exclusively during pregnancy. Pregnancy-related hormonal changes might cause insulin resistance, which raises blood sugar levels and a pregnant woman’s risk of diabetes.

Although gestational diabetes normally goes away after pregnancy, it must be carefully managed to reduce hazards for both the mother and the baby. The treatment regimen includes glucose and blood sugar testing, dietary modifications, lifestyle changes, exercise, and, in some instances, insulin medication. However, it is crucial to remember that women who have gestational diabetes during pregnancy have a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.

Peeking Into the Early Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes

For optimal management and early intervention, it is essential to recognise the signs and symptoms of the condition early. This way, people can proactively manage their health and seek medical care from physicians or house call doctors before it’s too late.

Here’s a look at the early symptoms of diabetes you must watch out for:

  • Frequent urination

One of the earliest signs and symptoms of diabetes is increased urination frequency, a condition known medically as polyuria. The kidneys have to work harder to remove the extra sugar from the body when blood sugar levels are high, leading to more frequent bathroom trips. If your body doesn’t do this, you will develop high-risk factors for kidney disease.

Consider diabetes as a probable reason if you notice that you need to urinate more frequently than usual, especially at night.

  • Dry mouth or increased thirst

Increased thirst or polydipsia is also among the early symptoms of diabetes. Since your sugar likely builds up inside at this point, the body will attempt to eliminate extra sugar through the urine, which increases your thirst. Also, high blood sugar levels can result in dry mouth, making people thirsty often.

  • Numbness or pain in the feet

Diabetes often causes a condition called neuropathy or nerve damage. The extremities, particularly the feet, may result in tingling, numbness, or discomfort. This can be among the early signs of diabetes if you have odd sensations or pain in your feet, which must prompt you to seek medical attention and take in more insulin.

  • Sudden weight loss

Unexpected weight loss, particularly in Type 1 diabetes, can be an early indication of diabetes. The body starts to break down muscle and fat for fuel when it can’t use glucose to produce energy because of a shortage of insulin produced or insulin resistance. If it happens, you won’t be able to control weight loss despite increasing your food intake.

  • Feeling hungry often

Constant hunger or polyphagia is also considered among the diabetes symptoms. Insufficient insulin production or insulin resistance can block the entry of glucose into cells, depriving the body of energy. Because the body is attempting to make up for the lack of usable energy, this causes chronic hunger pangs that linger even after eating.

  • Blurred vision

High blood sugar levels can affect the fluid levels in the lenses of the eyes, leading to blurred vision. It is important to get your eyes checked and consider this among the diabetes symptoms if you experience blurry vision or find it difficult to focus.

  • Experiencing urinary tract and yeast infections often

High blood glucose levels create an environment conducive to bacterial and fungal growth. Recurring infections, especially in females, may indicate diabetes symptoms and should not be ignored.

  • Slow healing sores

Diabetes affects the body’s capacity to heal wounds and fight infections, resulting in frequent and slow-healing sores. These slow-healing infections and sores are diabetes symptoms and require medical treatment, especially when cuts, bruises, or sores take longer to heal or if you frequently contract infections.

  • Oral health problems

Diabetes can affect oral health, causing problems like dry mouth, gum disease, and recurrent infections. Diabetes, when poorly controlled, can weaken the immune system and make it more difficult for the body to fight off bacteria, leading to oral health issues.

What Causes Diabetes?

While proper diabetes management is essential, knowing the underlying causes can help with preventative plans and more focused treatment options. Here are the leading risk and causes of this disorder:

Insulin resistance

Type 2 diabetes can be a result of various causes, but it is largely attributed to insulin resistance. It happens when the body’s cells stop responding to the effects of the hormone insulin, which is created by the pancreas.

High blood glucose levels occur from the inability of the cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream. Numerous variables, such as hereditary or family history, obesity, sedentary behaviour, and specific medical problems, can affect insulin resistance.

Hormonal imbalances

Certain cells and hormonal imbalances can hasten the onset of diabetes symptoms and risk. For instance, disorders like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and Cushing’s syndrome can alter a person’s hormone levels, raising the risk of Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. Hormonal abnormalities in the pancreas can impact the body’s capacity to efficiently control blood glucose levels.

Autoimmune disease

The immune system incorrectly targets and kills the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas when you have type 1 diabetes. Although the precise source of this autoimmune reaction is not entirely understood, it is thought to be caused by a combination of hereditary or family history and environmental factors.

Genetic mutations

The chance of acquiring diabetes can rise due to specific genetic mutations. These mutations can predispose people to diabetes, but not everyone will end up having the condition. Some genetic variants impact insulin synthesis or receptor function, increasing a person’s risk of developing diabetes. Identifying those more vulnerable and putting preventative measures in place can be made easier by understanding genetic predispositions.

Damage to the pancreas

Diabetes can be brought on by damage to the pancreas, the organ in charge of manufacturing insulin. Diabetes can result from pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas that prevents it from producing enough insulin. Diabetes can also occur due to pancreatic surgery or injury, which can alter insulin manufacturing.

Physical inactivity, obesity, and being overweight

Lifestyle factors significantly influence the onset of Type 2 diabetes. The likelihood of developing insulin resistance and diabetes increases by being overweight or obese and maintaining a sedentary lifestyle.

Increased insulin resistance is linked to excess weight, particularly abdominal fat. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or managed by keeping a healthy weight and participating in regular physical activity.

Diabetes Complications

Living with diabetes requires constant monitoring, home care, and proper management, especially in nursing homes or senior group homes. If not, it can lead to complications, such as:

Acute Complications

These complications happen fast and require immediate medical care. These complications arise due to uncontrolled blood glucose levels, which include hyperglycemia or high blood sugar and hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.

Long-Term Complications

These diabetes complications develop gradually, affecting different body systems and organs. Some of the long-term diabetes complications include cardiovascular ailments, high blood pressure, nerve damage, kidney disease, eye problems, oral health problems, and foot complications.

How Diabetes (Type 1, Type 1.5, Type 2 Diabetes, Gestational Diabetes) is Diagnosed

You can have yourself checked through a home physiotherapy service if you can’t manage to visit a nearby clinic or hospital. Healthcare professionals use the following tests in measuring your blood glucose level to determine if you have diabetes or not and what type of diabetes you have:

  • Glycated haemoglobin test or HbA1C

This test will let you know your average blood glucose level in a month or two.

  • Random blood glucose test

You can get this test done any time, whether you have fasted or not.

  • Fasting blood glucose test

This will test your baseline blood sugar, which can be affected by the food you eat. This means you must fast for eight hours before getting it. You can eat food during the fasting period, but you are allowed to drink water.

Treatment Options for Type 1, Type 1.5, Type 2 Diabetes, and Gestational Diabetes

The treatment options available for people with diabetes depend on the type of diabetes they have:

Type 1 diabetes

People with type 1 diabetes need lifelong insulin therapy, and their treatment options include the following:

  • Blood sugar monitoring
  • Insulin administration
  • Carbohydrates counting

Type 1.5 diabetes

The treatment options available for those who have this type of diabetes include the following:

  • Oral medications
  • Insulin therapy

Type 2 diabetes

Here are the treatment and management options available for those with type 2 diabetes:

  • Oral medications
  • Lifestyle modifications
  • Insulin therapy
  • Injectible medications
  • Blood test

Gestational diabetes

You have to get yourself monitored by your doctor if you have gestational diabetes to ensure your and the baby’s safety and health. Here are the treatment options for gestational diabetes:

  • Regular physical activity
  • Medical nutrition therapy
  • Insulin therapy
  • Blood sugar monitoring

Importance of Diet and Exercise in Regulating or Preventing Diabetes

Diet and exercise are essential for maintaining healthy blood glucose levels, body weight, cardiovascular health, and general well-being. People with diabetes can empower themselves to live healthier, more fulfilled lives by making conscious decisions and actions.

Through diet and exercise, it is easier to attain and sustain the following:

  • Blood sugar control

A balanced diet and regular exercise can help people with diabetes keep their blood sugar levels under control. A balanced diet means minimised intake of processed meals, sugary drinks, and refined sugars. You must choose complex carbs, high-fibre foods, lean proteins, and healthy fats instead.

Meanwhile, regular exercise improves insulin sensitivity, enabling cells to use glucose for energy more effectively. Diet and exercise work together to help blood glucose levels reach and stay within the target ranges.

  • More energy

These healthy lifestyle options can increase energy levels and uplift your mood. A healthy diet provides the nutrients required for good physical and mental performance. Endorphins, or feel-good hormones, are released when you exercise frequently, and they help to elevate your mood and lower tension and anxiety.

  • Maintaining healthy weight

Obesity and excess weight put people with diabetes at an increased risk of problems like insulin resistance and heart disease, especially when they have a family history of these problems. A balanced diet that emphasises moderation, nutrient-rich meals, and mindful eating techniques can assist them in losing weight and achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

Exercise helps people attain weight loss and manage their weight by boosting metabolism, burning calories, losing weight, and developing lean muscle mass. Additionally, it increases insulin sensitivity, aiding blood sugar control.

Here are the other ways to help prevent the occurrence of diabetes:

  • If you are obese or overweight, aim to lose up to 7% of your body weight.
  • Have your meals served in smaller portions.
  • Include more whole grains, veggies, and fruits in your diet.
  • Avoid consuming anything with refined carbohydrates, trans fats, and saturated fats.
  • Attain aerobic exercises for at least 150 minutes each week, such as cycling and walking.


By taking proactive steps to reduce risk factors, you can effectively lower your risk of acquiring diabetes. Keep in mind that making tiny modifications to your daily routine can have a major influence on your long-term health.

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