What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic disease that happens when blood sugar is high in the body; in such situations, either the pancreas can no longer make sufficient insulin or cannot use the insulin created by the body. Insulin is a type of hormone produced by the pancreas; the main job of insulin is to help generate energy by absorbing the glucose from food. When a human body cannot make sufficient insulin or when insulin cannot absorb glucose, then the problem of diabetes occurs. Having too much-unabsorbed glucose in the blood can lead to significant health issues, including damaging various body organs such as the heart, kidneys, eyes, and nerves.
Despite so many developments in medical science, there is no specific permanent cure for diabetes; it is a life-long disease. Patients with diabetes need to manage it by changing their lifestyle, namely diet and physical activity.
People with a family history of diabetes, an injury to the pancreas, physical stress, high blood pressure, being overweight, and active smoking are at elevated risk of developing diabetes.
What are the types of Diabetes?
There are three main types of diabetes:
· Type 1 Diabetes: This type of diabetes gets diagnosed in young adults, teenagers, and children. Type 1 is caused by autoimmune failure: e, when the body kills or attacks the cells producing insulin, leading to a situation where the body does not make any insulin. There is no specific cure for Type 1 diabetes. People who get diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes need to inject insulin daily to survive
· Type 2 Diabetes: This is the most common type of diabetes, with more than 95% of the population (WHO) affected. This occurs when the body cannot use insulin, constantly increasing the blood sugar level. This type of diabetes can be managed by taking a healthy diet, maintaining physical activity, and sustaining a healthy body weight
· Gestational Diabetes (GDM): This is the third type of diabetes that occurs in females with high blood glucose levels during their pregnancy. Gestational Diabetes subsides after childbirth
Symptoms of diabetes differ basis the type of diabetes; symptoms of Type 1 show up quite quickly and are more severe. However, symptoms of type 2 diabetes are often not easily understandable, and some people may not experience the symptoms of type-2 diabetes. The most common symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are:
· Consistent feeling of being parched
· Increased frequency of urination
· Increase in Appetite
· Unreasonable weight loss
· Problems associated with vision
· Slow Healing process of bruises and sores
An important thing to note in the process of developing diabetes is that both Type 1 and Type 2 can occur at any stage in life; however, Type 1 is more common in young people, children, and teenagers, and Type 2 diabetes is more common in people of middle age. There is no specific treatment for both diabetes; for Type-1 diabetes, taking insulin at a constant interval is necessary, and for Type-2 diabetes, oral medications are the way forward.
To understand the exact cause of diabetes, it is crucial to understand the process of insulin. Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas; insulin provides sugar to the cells in the body by breaking the glucose consumed in food. When this insulin function is not happening correctly, an individual gets diagnosed with Diabetes.
The person is said to have Type 1 Diabetes. Well, the exact causes of Type 1 diabetes are unknown; however, it can be stated that when the human body is itself destroying the cells that produce insulin, thereby leaving the body with either low or no insulin, then blood sugar level rises the bloodstream. It could be caused because of environmental factors or because of genetic structure.
Type 2 diabetes is caused by the pancreas not producing enough insulin to break the glucose into the body and enter the cells. In this scenario, the blood sugar does not get absorbed in the body to provide energy. Instead, it spreads into the blood. The significant causes of type 2 diabetes are overweight, genetics, and environmental factor.
Can diabetes be prevented?
No specific method can be applied or practiced to prevent Type 1 Diabetes. On the contrary, multiple factors can influence the cause of Type 2 Diabetes, namely, unhealthy food consumption, less physical activity, a sedentary lifestyle, genetic structure, and more.
As the studies conducted by the International Diabetes Federation, any transformation in lifestyle, such as eating a healthy and balanced diet, exercising three to five times a week, abstaining from alcohol and tobacco, and sustaining the BMI, can prevent diabetes.
How is diabetes diagnosed?
General Physician or Primary Care Physician is the first choice of people when symptoms of diabetes start showing up. GP will recommend some tests such as the A1C test, fasting blood sugar test, and random blood sugar test to assess the blood sugar levels in the human body over the last three months. General Physician can then refer you to Diabetologist or an endocrinologist, a physician who specializes in diabetes care.
Your healthcare provider will check your diabetes by monitoring your blood sugar levels which are done through the following tests:
· Fasting Test– This is done early morning when you have not eaten or drunk anything other than water or had a gap of a minimum of eight hours between the last meal and the test
· Random Test: This is done randomly at any given period of the day
· HbA1c: This test gives more accurate results as it tests the blood sugar level in the body for the last two to three months. If you are visiting your doctor after a long time, he may advise you to undergo this test
What are the complications of diabetes?
Diabetes can bring you the following chronic complications:
· Eye Problems affecting the eyesight
· Foot problems making it hard to heal the sores and cuts
· Heart attack and stroke
· Kidney Failure
· Nerve Damage
· Gum Diseases and other oral health problems
· Increased risk of developing cancer
However, these complications can be prevented by keeping the blood sugar levels in check by taking measures, including managing diabetes, quitting smoking, staying physically active, consuming a healthy diet, and making regular visits to the doctor.
The doctor will recommend oral medicines or insulin based on the blood sugar level in the body. In cases of Type 1 Diabetes, insulin is the only way to treat patients. Four types of insulin are recommended:
· Rapid Insulin: It starts working within 15 minutes after being given, and its impact lasts for 3 to 4 hours
· Short Insulin: It starts to work within 30 minutes after being given, and its impact lasts for 6 to 8 hours
· Intermediate Insulin: It starts to work within 1 to 2 hours after being given, and its impact lasts for 12 to 18 hours
· Long Insulin: It starts to work a few hours later after being given, and its impact lasts for 24 hours or more than that
In the case of Type 2 Diabetes, doctors recommend oral medications such as Meglitinides, Sulfonylureas, and more which need to be consumed daily along with lifestyle changes. People with Type 2 Diabetes need to change their food consumption habits, increase physical activity, and participate in relaxing activities to relieve stress.
Women who develop diabetes during pregnancy are advised to monitor their sugar level several times a day and quit or reduce consumption based on their test sugar level.
Once an individual gets diagnosed with diabetes, it becomes part of everyday life. However, it can be managed, and an individual can lead a healthy life. The critical thing to note about diabetes is that it can damage all body parts. Therefore, monitoring one’s blood glucose level, blood pressure, and cholesterol is crucial. Furthermore, it is also important to note that the ABCs- A for A1C Test, B for Blood Sugar, and C for Cholesterol.
Achieving the ABC goals can help manage diabetes better and lower the chances of heart attack, stroke, or other health problems. Taking a diet by considering blood sugar levels is crucial, such as eating fruits and vegetables, beans, whole grains, chicken or turkey, fish, lean meats, cheese, and more, increasing the intake of water, and reducing the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. Furthermore, following the meal plan and actively participating in physical activity to reduce weight are ways to keep on track even with diabetes.
Disclaimer: This blog has been written after performing in-depth secondary research related to the topic from various articles, blogs, and journals with expertise in writing for healthcare. The content on this page should not be considered a substitute for medical expertise. We advise you to book an appointment with the doctor for any doubts