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Physiological Effects of Diabetes

author image Melissa Angela
Melissa Angela has a master's degree in public health with a specialization in community health education. She is also a registered nurse, having worked in the health field for more than 15 years. Angela has a special interest in wellness and promotion of women's health and serves as a freelance health writer for various websites.
Physiological Effects of Diabetes
Someone is receiving an insulin injection. Photo Credit: Trepalio/iStock/Getty Images

According to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, 23.6 million people have diabetes in the United States. Although it is a common disorder, people may not be aware of the way it affects the body physiologically. Diabetes can lead to long-term complications, so it is important to consider ways to prevent development of diabetes in the future if you're at risk.

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Diabetes comes in different forms. Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune response. Type 2 diabetes is associated with being overweight, although those with a family history or of certain ethnic backgrounds are more at risk. Gestational diabetes happens to a woman during pregnancy.


In Type 1 diabetes, according to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, which results in little or no production of insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas can produce insulin. The body, however, becomes insulin resistant, which means the insulin cannot be used properly by the body. After a few years, the insulin production decreases. Gestational diabetes is caused by the hormones of pregnancy or not enough insulin being produced in an expectant mother.


Type 1 diabetes only affects 5 to 10 percent of those with diabetes in the U.S. Type 2 affects 80 percent of those with diabetes in the U.S. Roughly 3 to 8 percent of pregnant women in the U.S. develop gestational diabetes, according to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse.


Diabetes is a leading cause of death and disability in the United States. Many long-term complications of diabetes can affect different organs of the body. Kidney disease, eye problems, foot ulcers and amputations, nerve damage and heart disease are some of the related problems that are associated with diabetes. If a person is diagnosed with diabetes, it is important to have good diabetes management to prevent or delay complications in the future.


Because type 2 diabetes is the most prevalent, it is important to be aware of ways of preventing diabetes. Losing weight, if you are overweight; participating in regular exercise; and eating a healthy diet are ways to help prevent diabetes. In addition, if you are at risk for diabetes, it is important to get screened by your doctor, so that it can be treated if necessary.

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