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Diabetes or diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease, in which your normal blood sugar levels shoot up to abnormally high levels. This condition is known as hyperglycemia.

It occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or cannot use insulin properly. The result is high blood sugar levels that damage many parts of your body.

Your pancreas usually releases insulin to help your system store and use the sugar (also fat) from your food. But when your pancreas does not produce enough insulin or produces very little or your cells stop responding to insulin, it leads to insulin resistance.

Diabetes often leads to serious health issues, such as heart disease, loss of vision and kidney failure. Uncontrolled diabetes can also damage your nerves and blood vessels.

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes often require prolonged treatment and proper medical care.

Diabetes is not a curable disease, but with proper weight management and heathy dietary intakes, it can be managed and controlled.


Types of Diabetes

There are three common types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational.

And there is a condition called Prediabetes, which might lead to type 2 diabetes.

Type 1

It’s a condition in which your body body stops making insulin. Your own immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in your pancreas. Over time, your pancreas stops producing enough insulin necessary for regulating your body’s energy supply.

Persons (children and teens normally)under the age of 20 are mostly affected, but type 1 diabetes can develop at any age.

As of now, there is no know-how as to how it can be prevented.

Type 2

It’s a condition in which your body becomes insulin-resistant and your blood sugar level increases. Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes, and about 90% to 95% of persons diagnosed with diabetes have this type.

Type 2 is preventable with lifestyle changes that include achieving weight loss and keeping yourself physically active.

It may not throw up any symptoms, so it’s better to get your blood sugar levels tested periodically.

Gestational Diabetes

It occurs in some pregnant women with no prior history of diabetes in their lives. Gestational diabetes normally goes away after the birth of your baby.

However, if you had contracted gestational diabetes, both you and your child are at a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.

Prediabetes

This condition develops when your blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not higher enough to be labelled as diabetic. People with prediabetes are at a greater risk of developing type 2 and cardiovascular disease.

Prediabetes is caused by insulin resistance, which means your cells are no longer respond properly to insulin. However, prediabetes is reversible through lifestyle changes that include eating healthier foods, exercising regularly and losing weight.


Symptoms of Diabetes

The following are some of the common symptoms associated with diabetes.

  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Blurry vision
  • Developing plenty of infections like skin and gum infections
  • Having sores that take time to heal 
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Extreme tiredness and weakness
  • Increased hunger
  • Weight loss without trying
  • Higher levels of ketone in urine
  • Mood swings, irritability
  • Experiencing dry skin
  • Dry mouth

Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms

You may experience stomach aches, vomiting or nausea. Symptoms may develop fairly quickly in few weeks or months. Type 1 occurs generally in persons below the age of 20, but it can also occur at any age.

Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms

The symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes may take many years to develop. In some cases, these symptoms may not be felt at all. Type 2 usually occurs in adults, but growing evidence shows that young children and teens are getting diagnosed with this condition.

Gestational Diabetes Symptoms

You may develop gestational diabetes, but you may not experience any symptoms associated with it. It is, therefore, important to get tested for your blood sugar level during your pregnancy, especially between 24th and 28th weeks of your pregnancy.

Frequent urination and feeling thirsty can be symptoms of gestational diabetes.

Less Common Types

These include monogenic, cystic fibrosis related and drug induced, and these are quite rare in their occurrence.


Causes

The one cause of your diabetes is having way too much glucose in your blood. In other words, uncontrolled spikes in your blood sugar levels cause can cause it.

But the exact reason for the many types of diabetes is still not clear.

The causes can be due to:

  • Pancreas not producing enough insulin
  • Genetic, environmental and geographic factors
  • Family history (someone in your family with type 1 or type 2 diabetes)
  • Race or ethnicity

Complications of Diabetes

Complications arising out of diabetes can be both severe and life-threatening, and can lead to:

And, complications due to gestational diabetes include premature birth, baby’s weight being larger than average, stillbirth, jaundice and hypoglycemia.


Risk Factors

You may be at the risk of developing diabetes owing to these following factors:

Type 1 Diabetes Risk Factors

  • Getting illnesses due to viruses
  • Pancreatic injury due to infection, accident, surgery etc.
  • Family history (your sibling or parent diagnosed with type 1 diabetes)
  • Autoimmune disease

 Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors

  • Excessive smoking
  • Family history (your sibling or parent diagnosed with type 2 diabetes)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • High levels of triglycerides
  • Physical inactivity
  • Previous condition of gestational diabetes
  • Previous history of stroke or cardiovascular disease.
  • Persons aged 45 or above
  • Condition affecting the hormones (PCOS)

Gestational Diabetes Risk Factors

  • Family history (your sibling or parent diagnosed with type 2 diabetes)
  • Obesity before pregnancy
  • Persons aged 25 or above

In India, gestational diabetes affects roughly over five million women every year. According to research data, both prediabetes and diabetes affect roughly over six million births in India, and 90% of them are because of gestational diabetes.


Diagnosis and Tests for Diabetes

You have to get your blood tested for your blood sugar level to determine whether you have diabetes.

Your Doctor may perform a few following tests to know whether you have type 1, type 2, gestational or prediabetes.

  • Fasting Blood Sugar Test: This test is performed in the morning after an overnight fast (no food, except little water)
  • Random Blood Sugar Test:This test can be performed at any time, and there is no need for fasting.
  • A1C Test: This test is performed to measure your average blood glucose level over the period of two to three months. It measures the amount of glucose attached to your hemoglobin protein present in your red blood cells. No fasting is required for this test.
  • Glucose Tolerance Test: In this test, you are made to drink a glucose solution. Your blood sugar level is then tested for the intervals of one, two and three hours. Overnight fasting is required for this test.
  • Gestational Diabetes Tests: You will be tested for your blood sugar level during your pregnancy, especially between 24th and 28th weeks of your pregnancy. There is no need to fast before getting tested. If your blood sugar level is higher than normal early in your pregnancy, you may be prone to type 1 or type 2 rather than gestational diabetes.
  • Type 1 diabetes: For type 1, your blood and urine samples will be tested. Your blood will be tested for autoantibodies, while your urine is tested for the presence of ketones. The presence of these two in your system could mean that you have type 1 diabetes.


Treatment

Early detection and diagnosis is key to the treatment and management of your diabetes. Your Doctor will treat for the type of diabetes that you suffer from. Your treatment is also based on your present health conditions and your blood sugar level.

  • Type 1: You treatment will focus on your blood glucose control, and you will be required to take insulin every single day. This is because your pancreas does not produce enough insulin.
  • Type 2: As your body becomes insulin-resistant, you will be put on medications for insulin production. In addition, you are required to make lifestyle changes that include reducing your weight, eating healthy food and engaging in physical activities. 
  • Gestational diabetes: Your will be put on a diet tailor-made for your condition, and you will be required to sweat out through consistent exercise. If these don’t help, you may be put on medications to reduce your blood sugar level. You may have to take insulin for a while until it becomes normal.
  • Prediabetes: You will be treated for possible risk factors that might lead you to be diabetic, plus you will be put on a healthy diet and asked to exercise properly. It is preventable, if you stick to the advice of your Doctor and do exactly as he says.

Prevention of Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels become too high. It affects how much glucose (or sugar) enters your body and how effectively your body uses that glucose for energy.

With these following four steps, you can successfully treat this condition.

Keep Tab on Your Blood Sugar Levels

To monitor your blood sugar levels, you need to test your blood sugar at least three times each day. You should also check your blood sugar before meals and after exercise.

If you’re diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, you must take insulin to control your blood sugar level. People who have type 2 diabetes can take oral medications or insulin shots to lower their blood sugar.

Eat Right Food

Eat a healthy, tailor-made diet that will improve your condition. Along with your diet, monitor your blood sugar level frequently. These steps will help you manage your condition effectively.

Do Your Exercise Regularly

Exercise helps you control blood glucose levels by increasing insulin sensitivity. It also improves your cardiovascular function and lowers blood pressure. In addition, regular exercise reduces your stress and anxiety, which can improve your mood.

Follow Your Medication

If you take medication for diabetes, make sure you follow the instructions carefully. You must consult your doctor before taking any medications. Also, keep track of how well you are doing with your treatment plan. This will help you making changes to the treatment, if necessary.


 

If you have a question related to this blog post, write to us here and we will update this post with a response.

Sources: CDC (1, 2), WHO, Mayo Clinic, Healthline, NIDDK, Cleveland Clinic, WebMD, Johns Hopkins and Frontiers.

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