October 19 2021
What is Diabetes?
Diabetic Mellitus, simply known as Diabetes, is a metabolic disease characterized by high blood sugar. We all have heard an essential hormone in our body called insulin. What this insulin does is that it moves sugar from your blood to tissues. In the tissues, the sugar is utilised to produce energy. Now what happens in Diabetes is that either your body does not make enough insulin or can't effectively use it. This causes a higher amount of sugar in blood damaging your nerves, eyes, kidneys and other organs.
What are the different types of Diabetes
- Type 1 Diabetes: It is an autoimmune disease meaning that the body's immune system attacks pancreatic cells that are used to make insulin. Now why the body attacks itself is not known. Nearly 10% of people with diabetes have type 1.
- Type 2 Diabetes: In this type of diabetes, your body produces insulin but the body becomes resistant to it resulting in high blood sugar.
- Prediabetes: In prediabetes, blood sugar is higher than normal. However, the sugar level does not rise to such an extent that is required to make a diagnosis.
- Gestational Diabetes: It is when there is high blood sugar in days of pregnancy. This is caused due to insulin blocking hormones produced by the placenta.
There is another term related to diabetes. It is diabetes insipidus. Though it sounds similar, it is not related to diabetes mellitus. It's a different condition wherein the kidneys remove too much fluid from the body.
Now each type of diabetes has its unique symptoms, causes and treatments. Let's learn more about each of them in this article.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
Generally, diabetic patients present with increased hunger, increased thirst, weight loss, frequent urination, blurry vision and sores that won't heal. Let's find the unique symptoms seen in each of its types.
Type 1 Diabetes
- increased hunger
- unintentional weight loss
- increased thirst
- frequent urination
- blurry vision
- mood changes
Type 2 Diabetes
- Increased hunger
- increased thirst
- increased urination
- blurry vision
- slow healing sores resulting in recurrent infections
In gestational diabetes, women don't experience any symptoms. During the 24th or 28th week of gestation, a blood sugar test is performed and it's then when the gestational diabetes is detected.
What is the cause of diabetes?
- Type1 Diabetes: The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is not known. It's just that somehow the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. It might be because of certain genes in viruses that sets off the immune system attack.
- Type 2 Diabetes: Type 2 diabetes stems from lifestyle factors and genetic factors. Obesity makes the cells more resistant to the effects of insulin on blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes runs in families.
- Gestational Diabetes: Due to hormonal changes, stems from Gestational diabetes. Placenta produces the hormones that make pregnant women's cells less sensitive to the effects of insulin. This results in high sugar levels in the blood.
Complications associated with diabetes
High blood sugar tends to damage organs and tissues. Higher your blood sugar is and longer you live with it, greater is the risk of complications. Following are the complications associated with diabetes:
- Heart diseases
- hearing loss
- foot damage wherein the infections and sores don't heal
- gestational diabetes
Uncontrolled gestational diabetes can have adverse effects on both baby and mother. Complications affecting the baby are as follows:
- premature birth
- increased risk of type 2 diabetes in later stages of life
- low blood sugar
- higher than normal weight at birth
Due to uncontrolled gestational diabetes, Mother may develop preeclampsia that is high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes. Also, she may require c-section. Her risk of gestational diabetes in future pregnancies also increases.
What's the Treatment of Diabetes?
Often, diabetes is treated with different medications that are taken by mouth or through injections.
Type 1 Diabetes: Main treatment for Type 1 Diabetes is insulin. Since the body is unable to produce the required insulin, it is given from outside. Depending upon how quickly they start to work, Insulin can be classified as Rapid-acting insulin, short-acting insulin, Intermediate-acting insulin and long-acting insulin.
Type 2 Diabetes: People with type 2 diabetes are advised to have lifestyle changes. If diet and exercise are not enough then there are prescribed medicines.
Gestational Diabetes: In pregnancy, make sure to monitor your blood sugar levels many times a day. If your blood sugar is raised, dietary changes and exercise may or may not be enough to bring it to normal. Nearly 10-20% of women with gestational diabetes have to take insulin to regulate their blood sugar. Also, insulin is safe for the baby.
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How to prevent diabetes?
After knowing that diabetes is associated with numerous complications, we all would want to take the necessary steps to prevent such a condition. So let us now find how we can prevent diabetes.
In type 1 diabetes we saw that there is a problem with the immune system and hence we can not prevent type 1 diabetes. Also, type 2 diabetes has certain genetic and age-related factors that aren't under our control either.But this does not mean that we can't prevent it. Other diabetes risk factors are under our control. All you need to do is to make certain adjustments to your diet and fitness routine.
If at all you have been diagnosed with prediabetes, no need to worry. There are certain steps through which you can delay or prevent type 2 diabetes. Some of them are listed below:
- Aerobic exercise for at least 150 minutes/week
- cut trans fat and refined carbs
- eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- try to lose weight if overweight or obese