Understanding Diabetes — Types, Symptoms, and Management

Diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs when a body is unable to produce or cannot use insulin as well as it should.1

It’s a disease that affects how food is turned into energy. It also triggers other health problems like vision loss, kidney failure, and heart ailments and would therefore require lifelong maintenance.


Type 1: Previously known as insulin-dependent, juvenile, or childhood-onset,2 this type of diabetes happens when the body attacks itself by mistake. This is usually diagnosed in children and young people and the usual cause or means remain vague.

Type 2: This is what transpires when the body doesn’t use and cannot regulate its blood sugar at normal levels. This is usually found in adults but is increasingly diagnosed in the younger population, too.

Gestational Diabetes: This type develops during pregnancy in women who haven’t had diabetes before. Gestational diabetes could open a greater risk of type 2 for moms and obesity in children later in life. Pregnant women are usually recommended to get tested for the condition between 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy.


If you’re wondering if you need to get your blood sugar tested, here are some telltale symptoms you can monitor:

  • Fatigue and hunger Our bodies convert the food we ingest into glucose — which is later transformed into the energy we use.3 With diabetes, either cells resist insulin or it’s hard to come by, so glucose can’t be absorbed in the body. This results in feeling tired and hungry for most times.
  • Frequent urination
    Another sign of diabetes is going to the bathroom more than usual. If you have to get up to pee a lot more than you typically do, you may need to get things checked.
  • Sudden weight loss
    Losing weight without trying is a clear sign that something is wrong with the body. This is especially concerning because your system will not be able to use glucose effectively and you will start burning fat stores instead.4
  • Vision changes
    Having diabetes can impact vision and eye focus. This is because high sugar levels can distort the lenses of the eyes.5

Skin discoloration
Discoloration on the neck, skin folds, or knuckles is also a symptom of diabetes. This is mainly caused by insulin resistance.


  • Diet

Dietary meal planning is not as complicated as one might think, it’s basically a matter of taking alternatives in place of food with high sugar content. After all, eating healthy is the cornerstone of managing diabetes.7

Examples include the following:
*Sweet Potato > White Potato/Fries
*Brown Rice > White Rice
*Fresh Juice > Fruit Juice
*Frozen/Fresh Vegetables > Buttered Vegetables
*Roast Chicken > Cold Cuts
*Skim Milk > Whole Milk

  • Activity Suggestions Being active makes the body more sensitive to insulin, which in turn, helps manage diabetes.8 Aside from having healthy weight as a result, you’ll get to sleep better, feel happier, improve your memory, lower your bad cholesterol, and more. Here are some suggestions:

Simple housework
Brisk Walking

Note, however, that these activities are subject to your existing conditions. Stick to a schedule, form a routine, do what you like best with or without a partner, and accomplish your goal slowly.9

  • Hygiene Practice
    One uncommon thing to note about managing diabetes is in general hand hygiene. For people with type 2 diabetes, especially, simple hand washing habits before eating and after using the restroom can prevent common complications of the disease.10

Arguably, this is one of the easiest and more important ways to manage the condition and curb more illnesses.

  • Blood Sugar Monitoring
    Regular blood sugar monitoring is important for all types of diabetes, since results from this will provide information vital to lifestyle changes such as food intake, physical activities, and more things related.

Glucometers, for one, is much-needed for home monitoring but make sure to get an A1C test at least twice a year to get a read that covers 3 months of your blood sugar levels.11


For diabetic emergencies, there are two sets of symptoms to watch:

Insulin Shock (Low Blood Sugar Levels)12

  • Fast breathing
  • Rapid pulse
  • Pale, sweaty skin
  • Headaches
  • Odorless breath
  • Numbness
  • Hunger
  • Weakness
  • Drowsiness

Diabetic Coma (High Blood Sugar Levels)13

  • A very dry mouth
  • Stomach pain
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fruity breath
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid heartbeat

While diabetic patients can live fulfilling lives with proper medication and management, it’s best if we can avoid having preventable types of the disease altogether. Lifestyle changes mentioned, for instance, can make a big impact on the onset of type 2 and gestational diabetes.

Eating healthy alternatives, maintaining a healthy weight, keeping active, swapping fad diets for healthier choices, and going for regular checkups and annual assessments should do the trick.

’s network of dedicated healthcare providers offers reliable solutions to any of your health concerns. We’re committed to providing better access to healthcare for all to drive better results.


1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, July 7). What is diabetes? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved August 5, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/diabetes.html

2 World Health Organization. (n.d.). Diabetes. World Health Organization. Retrieved August 5, 2022, from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diabetes

3 6 signs that indicate you have diabetes and need to get tested right away. Healthshots. (2021, May 9). Retrieved August 5, 2022, from https://www.healthshots.com/preventive-care/self-care/6-diabetes-symptoms-that-you-must-watch-out-for/

4 – 5 Team, C. C. (2022, April 11). 6 early signs of diabetes. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved August 5, 2022, from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/is-diabetes-sneaking-up-on-you-6-early-signs/

6 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Managing diabetes. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Retrieved August 5, 2022, from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/managing-diabetes
7 Lewis, J. (2017, March 19). Healthier alternatives for diabetes meal planning. Diabetes Care Community. Retrieved August 5, 2022, from https://www.diabetescarecommunity.ca/diet-and-fitness-articles/diabetes-diet-articles/healthier-alternatives-for-diabetes-meal-planning/
8 – 9 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, May 6). Get active! Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved August 5, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/active.html