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What is Diabetes?

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Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease considered by high blood glucose (or blood sugar) levels, which can cause thoughtful damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves. The most common type 2 diabetes occurs in adults when the body becomes resistant to insulin or does not produce enough insulin. Over the last three decades, the pervasiveness of type 2 diabetes has increased dramatically in all-income countries. Type 1 diabetes, before known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a stable condition in which the pancreas harvests little or no insulin on its own. For people with diabetes, access to reasonable treatment, including insulin, is critical to their survival.

Causes of Diabetes

Luis Avila, a member of the Board of Directors of the SED, points out that ” the exact cause of diabetes is not known, among other things, because there are many different types.” The time of the start of the disease, the causes, and the symptoms that patients present depend on the type of diabetes:

Type 1 Diabetes

It usually appears in children but can also start in adolescents and adults. It usually appears abruptly and many times regardless of whether there is a family history.

There is a destruction of the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas (the beta cells) by autoantibodies. “That is, the body attacks its cells as if they were foreign (as occurs in celiac disease and other autoimmune diseases),” explains González. The initial mechanism that induces the appearance of these antibodies has not been fully identified and is very complex. It investigates whether the origin is, according to Ávila, in “a genetic predisposition that, due to different environmental factors, produces that autoimmune response that destroys those cells.”

Type 2 Diabetes

It arises in adulthood, and its incidence increases in older adults and is about ten times more frequent than type 1. In it, there is a decrease in the action of insulin so that, even if there is a lot of it, it cannot act. González indicates that there is “a mixed component: on the one hand, there is less insulin in the pancreas and, on the other, this insulin works worse in the tissues (so-called insulin resistance).”

“Its leading cause is obesity because fatty tissue produces certain substances that decrease insulin receptors’ sensitivity, ” Ávila. Since obesity has grown very significantly in Spain, so has this type of diabetes.

Gestational Diabetes

During pregnancy, insulin increases to increase energy stores. Sometimes this increase does not occur, which can lead to gestational diabetes. It usually goes away after childbirth, but these women have a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

  • Symptoms
  • Possible symptoms of high blood glucose include
  • Mucha sed (polydipsia).
  • I am feeling starving (polyphagia).
  • Need to urinate continuously, even at night (polyuria).
  • Weight loss, despite eating a lot.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Itchy or coldness in the hands and feet.
  • Recurring fungal skin infections.

If glucose rises slowly or progressively (usually in type 2 diabetes ), it can take years for symptoms to start, and thus the disease may go unnoticed. “Just because it doesn’t hurt doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt, and hence the importance of early diagnosis to prevent the onset of complications,” emphasizes González.


Despite many attempts, it is not possible to prevent type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes, which is the most mutual, can be prevented. Since the most important cause is obesity, “all the actions that have to do with the prevention of obesity -avoiding a sedentary lifestyle, junk food, sugary drinks…- will have a positive result,” González underlines. , who states that it is known “that a healthy lifestyle reduces the chances of having type 2 diabetes by 80 percent”.

In addition, periodic reviews recommend, among which the following stand out:

  • Eye fundus.
  • Renal function analysis.
  • Foot Checks.
  • Electrocardiogram .
  • Blood pressure measurement.

People with diabetes should also watch for hypoglycemia (low blood glucose). A person considers hypoglycemic when their blood sugar level is less than 70 mg/dl. It is the most common acute complication of diabetes and can appear in many circumstances:

  • Excessive insulin dose.
  • Insufficient carbohydrates in meals.
  • Food delay in time.
  • Extra exercise for the administered insulin dose.
  • Some oral antidiabetics can also cause hypoglycemia.
  • Insulin delivery to muscle rather than subcutaneous tissue.
  • Insulin administration errors (administering rapid insulin instead of delayed insulin or dose errors).
  • Bathing or showering with boiling water shortly after injecting the insulin.

Among the measures to prevent hypoglycemia, it is worth mentioning carrying out a more significant number of blood glucose checks during the day, especially if you have done physical exercise, as well as planning the physical activity that is going to carry out to adjust the insulin to administer and the carbohydrates to eat. In this sense, the experts emphasize that insulin should never assist without maintaining glycemic control.

How do we measure glucose levels?

There are several ways to measure glucose. Implantable continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) can be beneficial for practicing sports, consisting of a small sensor implanted in the forearm and a transmitter that sends the data to an application the patient installs on their mobile.

These devices provide real-time results, which can also download to other mobiles. They also allow you to program alarms activated when the patient has levels close to hypoglycemia. They also offer the possibility of keeping track of blood glucose levels and analyzing how diet or physical activity affects them.

Sometimes medications are also an option. Oral diabetes tablets such as metformin (Glumetza, Fortamet, others) can decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes, but healthy lifestyle choices remain critical. Have your blood glucose level check at least once a year to ensure you don’t have type 2 diabetes.


Diabetes is a slow killer with no recognized treatable treatments. However, its complications can reduce through proper awareness and timely treatment. Three significant complications are blindness, kidney damage, and heart attack.

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