Diabetes is a chronic metabolic health condition in which the sugar levels in body become high than normal. This disease affects how the food is metabolized into energy by the body.
The food we eat is broken down into glucose sugar and this sugar than reaches the bloodstream. When the sugar levels in your blood become high, pancreas release insulin which lets this sugar to be used as energy by the cells.
In case of diabetes the body is not able to make enough insulin or it cannot use this insulin properly. Thus the cells do not respond to insulin and the sugar levels in the blood become high. This is called diabetes and may also cause other health problems like kidney failure, cardiac diseases and/or vision loss.
Although a cure has not been found for diabetes but being active, a healthy diet and a healthy weight can help. Different medications are also available that help to decrease the impact of this disease on the quality of life of patient.
Types of Diabetes:
This disease has been classified into different types which are as follows:
Type 1 Diabetes
This type of diabetes occurs due to auto-immune disorder where the body’s own immune system attack the cells of pancreas and damage them. Insulin is synthesized in these cells and due to the destruction the insulin levels drop or stop altogether. This types of insulin accounts for about 10 percent of the cases.
Type 2 Diabetes
In this type, the body develops resistance to insulin thus losing its function and a build up of sugar occurs in the blood.
A person is said to have prediabetes if his blood sugar levels are abnormal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
In some cases, sugar levels become high during pregnancy as placenta produces insulin-blocking hormones. This type is called gestational diabetes.[i]
Symptoms of diabetes
As the blood sugar level increase different signs and symptoms may be experienced by patients. Some of the general symptoms are stated below:
- Increase appetite and thirst
- Loss of weight
- Blurred vision
- Urge to urinate frequently
- Slow healing sores
- Some specific symptoms experienced in men include erectile dysfunction, loss of muscle strength and low libido.
- Certain symptoms that may occur in women include dry and itchy skin, yeast and urinary tract infections.
Type 1 diabetes specific symptoms include:
Extreme thirst and hunger
Type 2 diabetes specific symptoms are as follows:
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes can include:
- Formation of Sores
- Slowed healing
- Recurring infections
Gestational diabetes specific symptoms
Symptoms in this type of diabetes are very rare. Women might feel thirsty all the time and have to frequently urinate.[ii]
Cause of diabetes
Each type of diabetes has different causative factors which include:
Type 1 diabetes
The factor causing this type is usually a person’s own immune system. The immune system attacks the pancreatic cells that produce insulin mistakenly leading to lesser levels of insulin and higher levels of blood sugar.
Type 2 diabetes
The cause of this type is usually a combination of two factors: genetics and lifestyle of an individual. The risk also increases if you are overweight. In this type of diabetes the cells become resistant to the insulin and blood sugar rises up.
Typically this a result of alteration in hormone levels during pregnancy. The placenta produces insulin inhibiting hormones that is why the cells become less sensitive to its effects.
Diabetes risk factors
Certain risk factors have been associated to the development of this disease. Some of these factors are stated below:
- Type 1 diabetes is more common in children or teenagers
- If you carry certain disease related genes you are more at risk of getting it.
- If a man or women is overweight
- Type 2 diabetes is more common in age 45 or older
- Physically inactive people may develop diabetes
- If a woman has had gestational diabetes she may develop type 2 diabetes
- People having prediabetes have high risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- Some races particularly Hispanic, African American, Latin American, American Indian, or Asian American people are found to be more at risk of getting diabetes
- Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome may develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy
Long term diabetes can also damage other organs of the body and put you at a risk of developing:
- Cardiac disease (heart attack, stroke)
- Kidney diseases (nephropathy, kidney failure)
- Visual and otic problems (loss of vision and hearing)
- Foot damage due to sores that not heal
- Bacterial or fungal skin infections
Complications that may occur during Gestational diabetes include:
- Increased risks of developing type 2 diabetes
- Overweight baby
- Premature baby birth or still birth
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Treatment of diabetes
There are different treatment options for different types of diabetes. Either your doctor will prescribe drugs which can be taken orally or drugs that have to be injected in your body.
Type 1 diabetes
For this type, insulin is the best option as it replaces the human’ natural insulin and reduces blood sugar levels in the body. Generally, four types of insulin that is used depending on the duration of action and onset of its action.
- Rapid-acting insulin – onset of action 15 minutes and the total duration is about 3 to 4 hours.
- Short-acting insulin – takes about 30 minutes to begin its effects and lasts for about 6 to 8 hours.
- Intermediate-acting insulin – onset of action is 1 to 2 hours while it lasts for 12 to 18 hours.
- Long-acting insulin – starts working after a few hours and its effects remain for 24 hours or longer.
Type 2 diabetes
Metformin and insulin are two main medications that are usually used to treat this type of diabetes. Changes in diet and exercising can also be helpful in most cases.
Dietary changes and light exercise may bring your sugar levels down. According to the Mayo Clinic, only a percentage of 10-20 women need insulin for lowering their blood sugar. [iii]