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Home > Condition & Ailment Index > 

Diabetes Symptoms, Information & Causes


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General Diabetes Information
Diabetes is a disease of the pancreas related to the release of insulin into the blood stream. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce any insulin, when very little insulin is produced or when insulin is not used properly. Diabetes has no cure. More than 15.7 million people Americans suffer from diabetes. It is the sixth leading cause of death and the primary cause of blindness between the ages of 20 and 70.

Insulin controls the amount of glucose/sugar in the blood and the rate at which glucose is metabolized. The cells of the body need glucose to produce energy. Individuals with diabetes do not produce the insulin necessary to properly metabolize the sugars that they eat, causing hyperglycemia, a condition caused by abnormally high blood sugar levels. Prolonged hyperglycemia leads to damaged blood vessels, which may cause eye disease, heart disease, nerve damage, kidney disease and foot ulcers.

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Possible Causes of Diabetes
There are several different types of diabetes :

  • Type 1 Diabetes, also known as juvenile or insulin-dependent diabetes, usually develops before age 20 and makes up 5 to 10% of all diabetes cases. With type 1, the insulin-secreting cells of the pancreas are destroyed by the body’s immune system as a response to a viral infection or some other potentially stressful condition affecting the body. This results in zero insulin production by the pancreas. Type 1 diabetes is considered an autoimmune disease.
  • Type 2 Diabetes, also known as maturity-onset diabetes, occurs in people older than 40 and makes up 90 to 95% of those with diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, the pancreas may still produce some insulin but not in large enough quantities to properly metabolize the sugar in the blood stream. Heredity predisposes an individual to this type of diabetes. Insulin injection is not usually required if the diet is appropriate and wholesome. It is important to nourish the body with "complex" carbohydrates and a high fiber diet and eliminate sugary, processed and refined foods. Obesity, diet, race, age, lack of exercise, and heredity are all contributing risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Type 2 is most common among Latinos, American Indians, African-Americans and American-Asians.
  • Gestational Diabetes is another form of type 2 diabetes that develops during pregnancy and affects about 4% of pregnant women. Gestational diabetes is caused by hormonal resistance to insulin. The condition usually disappears after delivery; however, it is a sign that a woman is at a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
  • Diabetes Insipidus is a rare form of diabetes usually caused by the deficiency of antidiuretic hormone (ADH) from the pituitary and more rarely by the failure of the kidneys to respond to normal levels of ADH.
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    Possible Symptoms and Complications of Diabetes
    Symptoms of type 1 diabetes include increased thirst, increased hunger, frequent urination, dry mouth, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, eyesight problems and heavy breathing. Loss of consciousness can also occur, but this is very rare.

    Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include those listed for type 1 diabetes, plus itchy skin in the vaginal or groin area, yeast infections, slow healing sores, unexplained weight gain, low blood sugar levels, tingling in the extremities and impotence.

    Complications of Diabetes
    The diabetic patient's condition is worsened by the appearance of six major complications of diabetes - diabetic retinopathy, diabetic neuropathy, diabetic nephropathy and diabetic foot ulcers.

    • Diabetic retinopathy: Damage to the retina due to diabetes (diabetic retinopathy)is the leading cause of blindness in the US. One in 20 type 1 and one in 15 type 2 patients develop retinopathy, half of whom become legally blind.
    • Diabetic neuropathy: Damage to the nervous system due to diabetes (diabetic neuropathy) is usually limited to the peripheral nerves. This condition is characterized by feelings of numbness (paraesthesias) and pain, particularly in the lower extremities.
    • Diabetic foot ulcers: Lack of oxygen supply and peripheral nerve damage are the key factors in the development of diabetic foot ulcers. The foot ulcers are largely preventable through proper foot care. Foot Care Products have been developed to prevent and treat ulcers, yet it is important to treat the source of the problem.
    • Diabetic Ketoacidosis: When insulin-dependent (type 1) diabetics do not take sufficient insulin, glucose builds up in the bloodstream. The body must then break down fats for energy, but this process produces ketones, which are toxic to the body and can induce a state of acidosis (excessive acidity in the body.) Large doses of insulin are needed to overcome the insulin resistance in this state and hospitalization is often necessary.
    • Hyperosmolar nonketogenic coma: When severe dehydration occurs (from deficient fluid intake, high blood sugar levels, or physical stress such as infection or surgery), it may result in a genic coma (coma from dehydration). This is a medical emergency requiring hospitalization.
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      Possible Lifestyle Changes for Diabetes
      There is no way to avoid type 1 diabetes, but there are steps people can take to prevent the development of type 2. Eat a low fat, high fiber diet including raw vegetables and fresh vegetable juice. Avoid saturated fats and simple sugars. Do not smoke or use tobacco products. Exercise regularly and restrict alcohol use.

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      In accordance with FDA regulation, we do not make any therapeutic claims for any Dietary Supplements in accordance with the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act.

      Beneficial Dietary Supplements
      The nutrients below may be taken in combination with one another unless otherwise noted or as recommended by your doctor. Those suffering from gestational diabetes should consult a doctor before using any supplement or herb.

      Alpha Lipoic Acid is used for the treatment of nerve damage and helps control blood sugar levels.

      Spirulina is an excellent natural food supplement that helps stabilize blood sugar levels.

      Chromium Picolinate improves the ability of insulin to lower blood sugar levels. If you are diabetic, consult your doctor before taking chromium.

      Garlic improves circulation, enhances immunity and reduces blood sugar levels.

      L-Carnitine, L-Glutamine and Taurine help mobilize fat, reduce sugar cravings and assist the release of insulin.

      Quercetin helps protect the membranes of the eye from high glucose levels.

      Vanadium assists insulin in metabolizing glucose.

      Vitamin B-Complex with extra B-12 and folic acid helps improve the metabolism of glucose. B-12 assists in the prevention of nerve damage/neuropathy.

      Zinc has shown to be deficient in diabetic patients. Zinc is best absorbed as lozenges.

      Bitter Melon regulates blood sugar levels.

      Dandelion Root protects the liver.

      Fenugreek reduces cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

      Ginseng Tea lowers blood sugar levels, but is not recommended for those with high blood pressure.

      Stevia is an excellent all natural sugar substitute.

      Huckleberry promotes insulin production.

      REFERENCES: Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 3rd Edition, Phyllis Balch, CNC; James F. Balch, M.D.


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