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Diabetes has acquired its name from the Greek word 'siphon'. Diabetes is a disorder of the metabolism and the endocrine system, and is a blood-related disease. It has two forms: Diabetes mellitus (from the Greek word for sugar) and Diabetes insipidus. The main causes of this disorder are that either the body does not produce enough insulin, as happens in type 1 diabetes, or it does not use the available insulin in a proper manner, as in type 2 diabetes. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body convert glucose into energy. The factors which contribute to diabetes include lack of exercise, excessive weight, age, poor diet and, most importantly, genetics.

The symptoms of diabetes are fatigue, as the body does not get enough energy due to non-absorption of glucose, unquenchable thirst due to frequent urination, and weakening of the eyesight as a consequence of loss of excess body fluid in the form of urine. A diabetic person is also susceptible to frequent infections, like urinary tract infections, colds and flu. Another symptom is a tingling or burning feeling in the hands and feet. Most of the time diabetes goes unchecked because the symptoms are harmless.

A number of tests have been devised to help find out if you are diabetic. The fasting plasma glucose test, done in the morning, is a relatively cheap and easy test. It measures the blood sugar levels when one is not eating. The random plasma glucose test does not require fasting and can be done at any time. This type of test is the easiest and does not require any preparation. The oral glucose tolerance test involves checking blood glucose while fasting and then asking the patient to drink a super-sweet solution, after which the test is repeated, the results are compared to the standard, and if your reading is higher than normal then you have diabetes. Other tests involve glycated hemoglobin, urine tests and finger-prick tests.

Diabetes is a life-long disease. Even if you undergo treatment in the form of medication, diet change and exercise to get your sugar levels under control, you are still diabetic.


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