Pre-Diabetes, Diabetes, and Other Metabolic Dysfunctions: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
Pre-diabetes, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome are 3 of the most common metabolic dysfunctions affecting millions of people worldwide
These conditions are characterized by high levels of blood glucose, which can lead to serious health complications if left unmanaged. If your hormone levels are unbalanced, hormone replacement therapy may help relieve some of the symptoms of these diseases.
Prediabetes is a health condition characterized by blood sugar levels that are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes.
It affects a significant portion of the population — it’s estimated that over 96 million US adults are prediabetic. To make matters worse, it’s likely that many of them are unaware of their condition.
If you have prediabetes, you’re unlikely to see any obvious symptoms, making it challenging to diagnose without blood sugar tests. And, because you’re not experiencing symptoms, you might not have a blood sugar test done in the first place.
However, in some cases, symptoms may include darkened skin patches, skin tags, and changes in vision.
The primary cause of prediabetes has to do with insulin. Your body's cells become resistant to this hormone, which regulates blood sugar levels. This resistance causes blood sugar levels to rise, leading to prediabetes. The major causes of insulin resistance are being overweight and being physically inactive.
Risk factors for prediabetes include age, family history of diabetes, certain ethnic backgrounds, and previous gestational diabetes. Other contributing factors may include certain medications, hormonal conditions, and sleep disorders.
Prediabetes is a serious health concern as it increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
However, with lifestyle modifications such as weight loss, regular physical activity, and a healthy diet, it's possible to manage prediabetes and keep it from becoming type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is a chronic condition where your body cannot produce enough insulin (a hormone that regulates blood glucose levels) or cannot use insulin effectively. There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes, often diagnosed in childhood, is an autoimmune condition in which your body's immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas.
As a result, your body can’t produce insulin, which means you can’t regulate your blood sugar levels effectively.
Symptoms of type 1 diabetes include:
● Excessive thirst
● Frequent urination
● Unintended weight loss
● Blurred vision
The exact cause of type 1 diabetes remains unknown, but it's likely a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Some experts believe that persistent viral infections when you were a baby might be one cause. Others think environmental toxins could be a cause. No one is really sure. However, the number of people across the world with type 1 diabetes has risen significantly since we first began tracking it, indicating that there’s an environmental factor at work here.
Risk factors for type 1 diabetes include:
● Family history
● Certain ethnic backgrounds
Unfortunately, there is no clear way to prevent type 1 diabetes. All we can do is treat it when it shows up.
The main treatment for type 1 diabetes is regular insulin injections or the use of an insulin pump to regulate blood sugar levels. Frequent blood glucose testing is also crucial so that your healthcare provider can choose the right dosage.
Emerging treatments, like the artificial pancreas, which combines a continuous blood glucose monitor with an insulin pump, show promise in improving blood glucose control, particularly in children.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by elevated blood glucose levels caused by your body's inability to produce enough insulin — it’s also possible that the insulin that’s produced is ineffective.
Unlike type 1 diabetes, which is an autoimmune disease, type 2 diabetes is more common in middle-aged and older people, although it can occur in young people as well.
The symptoms of type 2 diabetes can be subtle and develop slowly. They include:
● Increased thirst and urination
● Heightened hunger
● Blurred vision
● Unexplained weight loss
Some people might not experience symptoms in the early stages, making regular check-ups crucial for early detection.
Risk factors include:
● Family history
● Being overweight or obese
● Certain ethnic backgrounds
Having a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet also make it more likely that you’ll develop type 2 diabetes at some point in your life.
Treating type 2 diabetes requires you to carefully manage your blood glucose levels, typically through lifestyle changes like diet and exercise. However, in many cases, your healthcare provider will recommend medication.
In some cases, insulin therapy may be required. Regularly monitoring your blood sugar levels and attending follow-ups with your healthcare provider are both extremely important — they’re the main way you can prevent complications and manage your condition effectively.
Other Metabolic Dysfunctions
Other metabolic dysfunctions include metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and gestational diabetes.
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. The conditions include high blood pressure, high blood glucose levels, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, and abdominal obesity.
Insulin resistance is when your body's cells become resistant to insulin, leading to high blood glucose levels, and has the same risk factors as pre-diabetes.
Insulin resistance can be managed through the same lifestyle changes as you would see with type 2 diabetes.
Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy when the body cannot produce enough insulin to meet the increased demand. It increases the risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth. It also increases the risk of type 2 diabetes later in life.
Hormone Replacement Therapy May Help with Metabolic Dysfunctions
To learn more about hormone replacement therapy and how it may help with metabolic dysfunctions, schedule an appointment today.