Diabetes is one of the most health conditions ailing more than 422 million people across the globe. It’s a chronic and metabolic disease in which the blood glucose levels in the body increase. There are several conditions and defects related to diabetes, as it has now become a common symptom of these diseases.
We are talking about the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, etc. All these vital organs are affected. This guide will talk about diabetes, its types, diabetes symptoms, causes, diabetes treatment, and other important aspects. By the end of this guide, you will be better informed about this common condition.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a long-lasting health condition that primarily affects the way our body converts food into usable energy. To generate energy, our body breaks down the food we eat into a consumable form of sugar called glucose. This glucose travels and reaches the entire body via the bloodstream.
When the blood glucose level in the body climbs, the pancreas gets the indicator to release insulin. This controls the level of blood sugar and also helps the blood sugar to reach the body’s cells to be used as energy.
Now, in diabetes, the body is unable to make enough insulin, or the body cannot use the insulin produced well enough to make the required impact. The amount of blood sugar increases in the body and in the bloodstream because the body stops responding to insulin.
Problems start to arise when too much blood sugar stays in the body for a long time. Over time, conditions related to the heart, eyes, and kidneys can start to develop. Let us give you a disclaimer right here, right now, there is no cure for diabetes because it’s a condition that can develop and tune down with the right medication, lifestyle, and practices.
It is imperative to get the right treatment for diabetes. Left untreated, it can cause severe problems in your body. Let’s get into the details of knowing more about diabetes and how it can bring significant and sometimes irreversible changes in your life.
Are There Any Types of Diabetes? YES!
Type 1 Diabetes
Diabetes Type 1 is an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune means when the antibodies, which are supposed to protect the body, can become the reason for a health problem. In this case, the immune system attacks the pancreatic cells and destroys them resulting in stopping the production of insulin.
Out of the global pool of diabetics, 5 to 10% of people are suffering from Diabetes Type 1. Because this condition’s rate of incidence is less and it has a different cause, this type of diabetes can also be found in children.
It is diagnosed at an early stage, and patients with this condition need to take insulin almost every day to survive. We don’t have a preventative treatment or routine to stop the manifestation of diabetes type 1.
Also, we also don’t have a specific list of causes that can lead to this condition in children and adults.
Type 2 Diabetes
According to the CDC, 90 to 95% of people are suffering from Diabetes Type 2. This type of diabetes happens when the body becomes resistant to the insulin produced by the pancreas. In other words, your body cannot use insulin too well, and it also cannot maintain the required levels of insulin in the body.
As a result, the blood sugar levels vary, leading to the manifestation of diabetes type 2. This type of diabetes usually takes years to develop, which means it is more often seen in adults. However, the number of children and young adults diagnosed with diabetes type 2 is increasing across the globe, which is a worrying statistic.
With diabetes type 2, individuals have more control over its manifestation. We say this because this type of diabetes is associated with our lifestyle. As such, it can be avoided by following healthy lifestyle habits.
One of the major causes of diabetes type 2 is increasing weight or obesity. So, losing weight, eating healthy food, and adopting an active lifestyle can prove to have significant positive effects.
Gestational diabetes, as the name suggests, occurs during pregnancy. It develops in pregnant women who previously never had diabetes before. Any expecting mother with this type of diabetes must take the requisite action and precautions, as gestational diabetes can pose health risks for the baby as well.
However, this type of diabetes goes away after giving birth. But it can easily lead to diabetes type 2 at a later stage in life. Moreover, even a baby born to a mother with gestational diabetes has a higher risk of developing obesity as a child and developing type 2 diabetes in later life.
What does Prediabetes Mean? Is it another Type of Diabetes?
Prediabetes is a developing condition, and the number of people with this condition are increasing across the globe. Prediabetes means a stage where the blood sugar levels are higher than normal. The diabetes normal range for an individual is between 95 mg/dL to 99 mg/dL.
However, the figures above the diabetes normal range between 100 mg/dL to 125 mg/dL is categorised as prediabetes. And blood sugar levels above 126 mg/dL indicate diabetes. Anyone at the prediabetes stage must start taking the right measures to control the blood sugar levels in the body. Not doing so can lead to developing diabetes. Also, anyone at the prediabetes stage is at a higher risk of suffering from heart disease and stroke.
Prediabetes has become a common condition today. CDC finds that more than 80% of the people don’t even know they have prediabetes.
In addition to these four types of diabetes, there are others as well, but they are related to specific conditions. Monogenic Diabetes Syndrome is a rare and inherited form of diabetes that is only seen in 4% of all diabetes cases. Cystic Fibrosis-related Diabetes is another form of condition that only happens to people with this disease. Lastly, Drug or Chemical Induced Diabetes manifests in people after they have undergone an organ transplant or after HIV/AIDS treatment.
Diabetes Symptoms – How to Know that You Have Diabetes?
One of the common questions people ask is how do I know that I have diabetes. Well, to get an exact answer, you need to get a blood sugar test. However, there are a few symptoms related to diabetes that can act as an indicator and make you cautious. Here are the diabetes symptoms:
- You might feel more thirsty than usual, which means a higher tendency to drink water.
- As a result of drinking more water, you will also have to urinate more often than usual.
- Another indicator is when you lose weight without putting in any significant effort.
- When the urine shows the presence of ketones, that is also an indicator of developing diabetes. Ketones are a byproduct produced after the breakdown of muscles and fat.
- In case you are feeling excessively tired, lethargic, and weak, make sure to get the blood sugar levels checked.
- Sudden mood changes and feeling irritated.
- Blurry vision and weak eyes is other symptoms.
- When the wounds and sores are healing slowly, that also means the onset of diabetes.
- When you observe the number of infections of the gum, skin, and vaginal, it can mean that you have diabetes.
An important topic related to diabetes symptoms is the risk factors connected to this condition. Yes, there are some cohorts of people who are at a higher risk of developing diabetes because of a particular reason. These risk factors differ for diabetes type 1, type 2, and prediabetes.
Diabetes Type 1 Risk Factors
- Family History: If a parent or sibling has diabetes type 1, the child or sibling in the same family can develop the same condition.
- Pancreatic Injury: An infection or damage to the pancreas due to an accident, tumour, or infection.
- Autoimmune: When the antibodies start attacking the body by mistake, it can damage the body’s organs and tissues, which can lead to type 1 diabetes.
- Stress or Exposure to Illness: Excessive physical stress and exposure to an illness (generally caused by a virus) can also become the reason here for diabetes type 1.
Prediabetes and Diabetes Type 2 Risk Factors
- Family History: A family history of type 2 diabetes means other family members are at a higher risk of developing the same condition.
- Origin: Individuals of Hispanic, Native American, Asian-American, Black, and Pacific Islander origins are also at a higher risk.
- Body Issues: Bodily issues like High BP, Obesity/Overweight, and low cholesterol levels are also risk factors for developing diabetes type 2. In addition, individuals who are physically inactive for a significant proportion of their lives are also at risk.
- Gestational Diabetes: Babies born out of mothers from gestational diabetes or when the baby’s birth weight is more than 9 pounds; both these situations mean high risk of diabetes.
- Smoking Habit: Smokers are also at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
What are the Causes of Diabetes?
In the earlier section, we have talked about the risk factors of diabetes. However, another important topic to discuss here is what caused diabetes. There is a thin line difference between the risks and causes of diabetes. Let’s go through them as well in this section.
What Causes Diabetes Type 1?
The causes for diabetes type 1 is not exactly known by the medical community. We are still at the research stage of establishing a set of reasons for the onslaught of type 1 diabetes. We know that genes might play some role in the incidence of diabetes type 1. Plus, when something sets off the immune system to attack the body, that can also become a cause for this type of diabetes.
What Causes Diabetes Type 2?
The incidence of type 2 diabetes is a result of several factors, including genetics and lifestyle. Lifestyle conditions like obesity increase the risk of getting diabetes significantly. Obesity is closely linked to diabetes because the extra weight an individual is carrying makes the cells resistant to insulin. As a result, blood sugar levels increase.
Moreover, when diabetes type 2 runs in the family, that can also cause another family member to be diagnosed with this condition.
What Causes Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is the result of hormonal changes women undergo during pregnancy. As the placenta produces hormones, it makes an expecting mother’s cells less sensitive to insulin and its effects. As a result, this increases blood sugar levels.
Hence, we can say that the exact cause of diabetes in any person is not known directly. It can either be due to genetic causes, lifestyle causes, or even hormonal changes. Irrespective of the cause and symptoms, it is essential to take diabetes control measures and methods. In the next section, we will talk about diabetes control, treatment, and prevention.
Diabetes Treatment | Medicine and Lifestyle Changes
Treatment of diabetes involves a mixed approach, including medication, lifestyle changes, eating habits, and exercise. The comprehensive effect of all these treatment measures is that the blood sugar levels are controlled. However, switching back the old routine and not taking the diabetes medicine can reprise the issue. Let’s go through these aspects in some detail.
Diabetes Medicine and Insulin
Insulin is the most common and important medicine prescribed by doctors in this condition, especially for people with diabetes type 1.
Type 1 Diabetes requires insulin as it replaces or replenishes the amount of insulin needed by the body to control blood sugar levels. Doctors prescribe different types of insulin to people with type 1 diabetes depending on the level of anomaly.
- Rapid-acting insulin produces the required effect in less then 15 minutes, but it only lasts for 2 to 4 hours. This means that after this time period, the individual has to retake insulin.
- Short-acting insulin takes action within 30 minutes, and the effect lasts for 3 to 4 hours.
- The Intermediate-acting insulin begins its work in 2 to 4 hours, and the effect of this insulin lasts for 12 to 19 hours.
- The next one is the long-lasting insulin, and its effect kicks in 2 hours. This type of insulin lasts for 24 hours.
- The Ultra-long acting insulin begins its work 6 hours after taking the injection. However, this one has the longest time of impact as its effects fade after 36 hours.
For diabetes type 1, insulin is the most important and primary treatment. However, with diabetes type 2, the doctors prescribe insulin along with a few medicines with particular ingredients and compositions. The exact measurement of insulin and the medicines depends on the condition.
Medicines for Diabetes Type 2
Here are a few types of medicines or drugs doctors prescribe for diabetes treatment and control.
- Biguanides: These are known to reduce the amount of glucose made by the liver.
- Alpha-Glucosidase Inhibitors: This class of medicine works to slow down the breakdown of sugars and starchy foods.
- DPP-4 Inhibitors: They are known to improve the blood sugar level without forcing it to go beneath a certain level.
- Meglitinides: This class of medicines helps stimulate the release of insulin from the pancreas.
Medicine for Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes is a peculiar condition, and the treatment for the same must also be special. In this, the doctor will ask you to regularly monitor the blood sugar levels. Diabetes Specialities Centre in chandigarh At times when it crosses the threshold, dietary changes and exercise will be recommended. In most cases, these two measures are enough to make a difference.
Yes, in some cases, insulin is also required. And rest assured that insulin is safe for the developing baby. So, if the doctor is recommending it, ensure to follow the process.
Can Diabetes Lead to any Health Complications?
There are several complications linked to high blood sugar levels in the body, and some of these are life-threatening. So, it is always recommended that you visit the doctor at the first symptom and get proper treatment for diabetes. Be it diabetes type 1 or type 2; complications can arise in any case.
One of the major complications arising out of diabetes is heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. In addition to this, diabetes patients can also develop neuropathy, nephropathy, retinopathy, and vision loss.
Hearing loss is also a common complication of this condition. Moreover, infections after diabetes are common. Foot infections and sores can easily happen, and the existent infections will also take more time to heal. Skin, bacterial, and fungal infections are also seen in people with diabetes.
Some of the neurological conditions associated with diabetes include depression and dementia.
The complications with gestational diabetes are different and specific to expectant mothers. These include premature birth, more than average birth weight of the infant and an increased risk for type 2 diabetes (at a later stage in life). Moreover, mothers and infants can also have jaundice.
The worst-case scenario with gestational diabetes is stillbirth. Hence, we recommend expecting mothers to take extra care of their health during pregnancy.
Can Diabetes be Prevented?
Yes, diabetes type 2 is preventable, but diabetes typ1 cannot be prevented. Type 1 diabetes is caused due to the immune system attacking the body. As a result, we cannot predict it and prevent it from happening. However, diabetes type 2 can be prevented because some of the causes for this condition are under our control.
So, things like unfavourable eating habits, lack of exercise and fitness can result in type 2 diabetes. It is a good habit to take caution while eating junk food, eat healthily, manage your time well to sleep on time, etc.
Almost all the diabetes prevention strategies include making simple adjustments to our life, and they prove to be effective. After you are diagnosed with prediabetes, make sure to do the following;
- Do aerobic exercise, walking, or cycling for at least 150 minutes in a week.
- Eat less saturated and trans fat foods. Also, completely cut out refined carbohydrates from your diet.
- Increase the consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Build a habit of eating in smaller portions.
- If anyone is obese or overweight, start with weight loss exercises.
Following these simple procedures will make a significant difference in the outcome and normalise the diabetes level.
Is there a Specific Diet for Diabetes?
Yes, doctors and nutrition experts recommend a low-sugar diet to people diagnosed with this condition. The purpose of recommending a diet is helping individuals maintain their blood sugar levels. Diabetes medicine and diet can play a complementary role in the management of this condition.
Again, we say that diabetes cannot be cured. Once you develop this condition, maintaining the required levels of insulin and blood sugar levels in the body is the only option. So, eating well is the primary step here.
Eating well does not only mean consuming the right amount and types of food. You also have to take care of the nutrition input into your body. And these eating habits must be ingrained into your lifestyle. You need to pick foods that are good for a diabetic person while grocery shopping and eating outside. Most importantly, you need to always take note of the carbohydrates.
Diet for Diabetes Type 1
Type 1 diabetes diet includes limiting the amount of carbohydrates you eat along with balancing the insulin with the required amount of doses. The key is to maintain the blood sugar levels in the body.
Diet for Diabetes Type 2
Diabetes type 2 diet also includes managing the blood sugar levels and adopting a diet for weight management. If the individual is overweight, then taking stringent dietary measures becomes necessary. In this type of diet, too, carb counting is required. Moreover, as we said earlier, doctors recommend eating in small amounts.
Among the types of foods, you can include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats like olives and nuts.
In a nutshell, no doctor will ask a diabetic person to eat less. They will only recommend eating in small portions and taking a healthy diet. It is important to build a habit of eating foods that have less sugar and carbohydrates in a diabetes diet.
Diabetes Test and its Variations
Diagnosing diabetes requires taking a test that will allow the doctors to know the exact blood sugar levels. After the test, they can prescribe the required medication and recommend a diabetes diet.
To measure blood sugar levels, three types of tests can be taken;
- Fasting Plasma Glucose Test: The word Fasting means this test is done at the morning time after at least 8 hours fast. So, the best time for this is the morning. Note that you cannot drink water or eat anything before taking this test.
- Random Plasma Glucose Test: This test is done at any time during the day and does not require fasting.
- HbA1C Test: This is the third type of test to diagnose diabetes, and it provides an average blood sugar level of two to three months. This is a detailed test, and it measures the amount of glucose attached to haemoglobin, the protein in oxygen-carrying RBCs.
These are the tests commonly used to check blood sugar levels for type 2 diabetes. As diabetes type 1 is a bit different, the test to confirm this type is also different. For type 1 diabetes, the individual needs to submit a urine and blood sample. The blood will be checked for the presence of antibodies, and the urine is checked for the presence of ketones.
Diabetes and its Incidence and Impact During COVID-19
During COVID-19, a lot of people with diabetes had a lot of questions and doubts in mind. Whether those who suffered from the coronavirus were at a higher risk of developing diabetes or aggravating it? Or does it have no impact with relation to diabetes?
Well, there are two sides to this association:
- Does COVID-19 cause diabetes? According to diabetes.org, some studies do suggest that those who have contracted COVID-19 are at a higher risk of developing diabetes. Moreover, younger people 18 years old or below who have contracted COVID-19 are at a higher risk of developing diabetes a month after the infection is confirmed.
- Are people with Diabetes prone to contract COVID-19? There is not enough data to say that diabetics are more prone to contract coronavirus. However, in case they are diagnosed with this condition, the chances of complications increase.
Diabetes is a preventable condition, and even if someone is diagnosed with it, they can go back to a normal life, but not without taking some daily precautions. Diabetes, as a condition, needs prompt and effective management. A diabetic is asked to take proper medication, adopt a healthy lifestyle, and adopt a diabetes diet.