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What Are the Risk Factors of Diabetes?

by Clare Louise

Glucose is a source of energy for body tissues. There are some tissues that solely depend on glucose as a source of energy, like the brain and the heart muscles. Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the beta cells of the pancreas. Insulin helps to regulate the amount of glucose in the body and stimulates the storage of excess glucose.  Insulin also triggers the storage of excess proteins and fat in the body.

Diabetes develops when the amount of glucose cannot be regulated because of the lack of insulin or due to resistance to insulin. Different types of diabetes are type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. When you visit the doctor at the Integrated Family Medical Center with symptoms of diabetes, the doctor will take your medical history and do a physical examination. The doctor orders laboratory tests to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment depends on the type of diabetes that you have.

How Does Diabetes Present?

The symptoms of diabetes can be mild to severe. Some of the symptoms of diabetes develop slowly over some time like those in type 2 diabetes. Some symptoms of diabetes develop in childhood while others begin in adult life. Type 1 diabetes, which is caused by the failure of the body to produce insulin, has severe symptoms that have a sudden onset.

Some of the symptoms of diabetes include excessive thirst and hunger.  Unintentional loss of weight and excessive urination are other symptoms of diabetes. Diabetes lowers the potency of the white blood cells that fight infections in the body and therefore makes you prone to getting skin, oral, and vaginal infections. Other symptoms of diabetes include fatigue, non-healing wounds, blurring of vision, and irritability.

What Are the Risk Factors of Diabetes?

Different types of diabetes have different risk factors. The risk factors of type 1 diabetes include having a family history of diabetes where one of your first-degree family members has diabetes. Some environmental factors like viral infections can damage the beta cells that produce insulin in the pancreas and put you at risk of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is common in people who have autoantibodies and those that originate in Finland and Sweden.

The risk factors for type 2 diabetes include obesity because higher fat increases the risk of having insulin resistance. Leading a sedentary lifestyle with limited physical activity makes you gain more weight and this increases your risk of type 2 diabetes. Being physically active helps your body to utilize more glucose and increases your sensitivity to insulin.

Type 2 diabetes is also common in people who have a first degree relative like a parent or sibling with diabetes. Some racial groups like blacks, Hispanics, and Asians are at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes than Caucasians. The risk of type 2 diabetes increases with advancing age and if you have underlying medical conditions like hypertension and polycystic ovarian syndrome.

The risk factors for gestational diabetes are being older than 25, being overweight, and having a genetic predisposition to diabetes. The risk of gestational diabetes is also higher in black, Hispanic, and Asian women than their Caucasian counterparts.

Diabetes results from failure of the body to regulate the amount of glucose in the body, secondary to lack of insulin or resistance of the body tissues to insulin. The symptoms of diabetes include excess thirst, hunger and urination, and unintentional weight loss. There different types of diabetes that are type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.