What Happens to Your Body When You Have Diabetes?

Medically Reviewed on 6/9/2022
Signs and symptoms of diabetes change depending on how high or low a person's blood sugar level is.

Diabetes, also referred to as diabetes mellitus, is an impairment in the manner in which the body manages and uses sugar (glucose) as a fuel.

Because this illness lasts a long time (chronic), there is an excessive amount of sugar circulating in the blood. In the long run, having high blood sugar levels may cause problems with the cardiovascular system, neurological system, and immune system.

The type of diabetes you have may influence how it manifests itself in your body. Both types I and II diabetes are considered the most common forms of the disease.

Why is glucose important?

The cells that comprise muscles and other tissues get their supply of energy from glucose, which is a type of sugar. The digestion of sugar results in its entry into the circulation, where insulin facilitates its transport to the cells.

Your liver is responsible for storing glucose and releasing it in the blood when the blood sugar levels plummet. If you haven't eaten in a while, for example, your liver will convert the glycogen stores it has into glucose to maintain a normal range of glucose levels in your blood.

Understanding insulin

Insulin is the key regulator of glucose. It is a hormone that is secreted by a gland that is located posterior and inferior to the stomach (pancreas).

  • Insulin is released into the circulatory system by the pancreas.
  • Sugar is able to enter your cells because insulin is circulating throughout your body.
  • Insulin has the effect of reducing the quantity of sugar that is present in the circulation.
  • Your pancreas will produce less insulin in proportion to the decrease in the amount of sugar in your blood.

Understanding the types of diabetes

  1. Type I diabetes, commonly known as juvenile diabetes or diabetes that requires insulin treatment, is a condition of the immune system.
    • Your body's immune system destroys the cells in the pancreas that are responsible for making insulin, which results in the loss of your body's capacity to produce insulin.
    • When you have type I diabetes, you need to take exogenous insulin.
    • The majority of people are diagnosed with type I diabetes when they are either children or young adults.
  2. When it comes to type II diabetes, there are essentially two issues that are intertwined with one another.
    • Your pancreas does not make enough insulin, a hormone that controls the passage of sugar into your cells, and your cells have a poor insulin response, so they take in less sugar. Insulin is a hormone that regulates the transport of sugar into your cells.
    • Type II diabetes affects mostly elderly populations, but currently, an increasing number of people in their early years are having the condition. This is a consequence of particular practices regarding one's nutrition and level of physical activity.
    • When you have type II diabetes, your pancreas is unable to make efficient use of insulin. This makes it difficult to extract sugar from the blood and transfer it into the cells, where it may be used as a source of energy. In the long run, this may result in the need of taking insulin medication.
  3. Gestational diabetes is when a woman develops diabetes in pregnancy due to hormonal changes. This diabetes goes away after the delivery. The pregnancy is a stage of insulin resistance, and in twin pregnancy or in vitro fertilization-induced pregnancy, hormonal fluctuations may go extreme and cause altered blood sugars.


Diabetes: What Raises and Lowers Your Blood Sugar Level? See Slideshow

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

Signs and symptoms of diabetes change depending on how high or low a person's blood sugar level is. It is possible that some individuals, particularly those who have prediabetes or type II diabetes, may not feel symptoms at all. Type I diabetes is characterized by symptoms that develop more rapidly and are more severe. Sometimes, diabetes may have no symptoms at all.

People with diabetes may experience hunger and fatigue, thirst, frequent urination, dry mouth, itchy skin, blurred vision, etc. 

If you have gestational diabetes, your risk of having complications during pregnancy is increased. Additionally, both the kid and birthing parent's chance of developing type II diabetes later in life is increased when this condition is present.

4 effects of diabetes on your body

Four effects of diabetes on your body include:

  1. Kidney damage: Diabetes can hurt your kidneys and make it harder for them to clean your blood of waste. If your doctor finds microalbuminuria, which means that you have a lot of protein in your urine, it could mean that your kidneys aren't working right. Diabetic nephropathy is a disease of the kidneys caused by diabetes. In its later stages, this condition doesn't show any signs. If you have diabetes, your doctor will check for nephropathy to help keep your kidneys from getting damaged or failing in a way that can't be fixed.
  2. Eye problems: Diabetes not only increases the risk of significant eye illnesses such as cataracts and glaucoma but also has the potential to cause damage to the blood vessels of the retina, which might ultimately result in blindness.
  3. A problem in the circulatory system: Diabetes increases the likelihood of having high blood pressure, which places additional strain on the heart. High blood pressure puts additional strain on the heart. If your blood glucose levels are consistently high, this may play a role in the development of fatty deposits along the walls of your blood vessels. It reduces blood flow and increases the risk of atherosclerosis, which is the thickening and hardening of the arteries. It can increase your risk of stroke or gangrene.
  4. Sleep apnea: People who live with type II diabetes are more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea. Obesity may be the primary factor leading to both of these illnesses. It is not entirely apparent if treating sleep apnea would enhance a person’s ability to regulate their blood sugar.
Medically Reviewed on 6/9/2022
Image Source: iStock image