What Are the Common Causes and Symptoms of Diabetes?

Pamela Cannaday by Pamela Cannaday | Licensed since 2011
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This article was updated on: 09/15/2018

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When you eat, your body turns most of your food into sugar, or more specifically, glucose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In turn, your body uses glucose as fuel. A healthy pancreas secretes insulin, and this hormone sends the glucose into the cells of your body where it’s needed. People who either can’t produce enough insulin or can’t use this hormone efficiently may have a metabolic disease called diabetes, says CDC. Since glucose can’t get into the cells, it stays in the blood. One of the diabetes symptoms that a doctor might check for is high blood sugar.

Types of diabetes

There are different forms of this disease, CDC reports:

  • Type 1: Typically, this form of diabetes appears first in children and young adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 5% of all diabetics have type 1. Both a genetic disposition and some sort of environmental trigger may cause type 1.
  • Gestational: This appears only in pregnant women and usually resolves itself after birth. Without treatment, both the mother and baby could suffer from complications.
  • Type 2: Sometimes called adult-onset diabetes, this form of the disease causes over 90% of the diabetes cases that occur in the United States. Diabetes symptoms for type 2 could appear in younger people but usually appear in middle age or later.
  • Other: In some cases, medications or other health conditions such as malnutrition or infection could cause high blood sugar and diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes symptoms

Very often, type 2 diabetes symptoms get more severe over time. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, some people may have this condition for years before it gets diagnosed. These are some common diabetes symptoms that might encourage you to visit the doctor for tests:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Hunger and food cravings
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained loss of weight
  • Blurred vision
  • Infections or sores that don’t heal quickly
  • Numbness or tingling in the feet or hands

Why you shouldn’t ignore diabetes symptoms

According to the NIH, in 2014 more than 9% of the United States population had diabetes and 25% of them didn’t know they had the disease.

These are some potential complications, according to the American Diabetes Association:

  • Heart and cardiovascular system disease
  • Cataracts and glaucoma
  • Kidney disease
  • Skin problems
  • Nerve damage
  • Strokes

Prevention and treatment of diabetes symptoms

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that researches are hard at work on cures for diabetes, doctors mostly focus on prevention, treatment, and managing diabetes symptoms. For example, a lack of exercise and obesity strongly correlate with type 2, so some doctors believe that this most common form of the disease can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight and enjoying regular activity.

These same measures may also help control diabetes symptoms and reduce the amount of medical intervention needed, but they usually can’t totally eliminate the need for intervention in people who already suffer from this condition. Treatment may include medication (including insulin), a special diet, and regular physical activity.

How Medicare covers diabetes

Medicare Part B may cover screenings and a variety of different supplies that a doctor might prescribe. Examples of supplies include testing devices, lancets, and test strips. Part B also covers nutritional counseling, disease management, and certain exams that relate to common complications.  You typically pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for doctor services after meeting your yearly deductible.

You usually pay 100% for insulin; Part B only covers insulin when a doctor prescribes an insulin pump. However, a stand-alone Part D Prescription Drug Plan or a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan might cover insulin, other diabetic medication, and supplies that you need for injections.

Do you need help finding a Medicare plan to help you manage the costs of diabetic treatments and screenings? If so, I hope to help you.

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