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Diabetes Health Center

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Frequently Asked Questions About Diabetes

What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes?

The symptoms of diabetes may begin gradually and can be hard to identify at first. They may include fatigue, a sick feeling, frequent urination, especially at night, and excessive thirst. When there is extra sugar in blood, one way the body gets rid of it is through frequent urination. This loss of fluids causes extreme thirst. Other symptoms may include sudden weight loss, blurred vision, and slow healing of skin, gum, and urinary tract infections. Women may notice genital itching.

A doctor also may suspect a patient has diabetes if the person has health problems related to diabetes. For instance, heart disease, changes in vision, numbness in the feet and legs, or sores that are slow to heal, may prompt a doctor to check for diabetes. These symptoms do not mean a person has diabetes, but anyone who has these problems should see a doctor.

Points to Remember

  • The symptoms of diabetes can develop gradually and may be hard to identify at first.
  • Symptoms may include feeling tired or ill, excessive thirst, frequent urination, sudden weight loss, blurred vision, slow healing of infections, and genital itching.

What Causes Type 2 Diabetes?

There is no simple answer to what causes type 2 diabetes. While eating sugar, for example, doesn't cause diabetes, eating large amounts of sugar and other rich, fatty foods, can cause weight gain. Most people who develop diabetes are overweight. Scientists do not fully understand why obesity increases someone's chances of developing diabetes, but they believe obesity is a major factor leading to type 2 diabetes. Current research should help explain why the disorder occurs and why obesity is such an important risk factor.

A major cause of diabetes is insulin resistance. Scientists are still searching for the causes of insulin resistance, but they have identified two possibilities. The first could be a defect in insulin receptors on cells. Like an appliance that needs to be plugged into an electrical outlet, insulin has to bind to a receptor to function. Several things can go wrong with receptors. There may not be enough receptors for insulin to bind to, or a defect in the receptors may prevent insulin from binding.

A second possible cause involves the process that occurs after insulin plugs into the receptor. Insulin may bind to the receptor, but the cells don't read the signal to metabolize the sugar. Scientists are studying cells to see why this might happen.

Points to Remember

  • In people with type 2 diabetes, insulin doesn't lower blood sugar, a condition called insulin resistance.
  • Obesity is a risk factor for diabetes.

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