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Diabetes

Scientifically called diabetes mellitus, Diabetes is referred to describe the group of diseases in which a patient has high blood sugar (glucose) because of low insulin production or body cells not responding to insulin, or in some cases both. Those with high blood glucose level experience frequent urination (polyuria), and constant thirst ((polydipsia) and hunger (polyphagia).

Types of Diabetes:

There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.

1. Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is the medical condition where body’s immune system destroys beta cells in the pancreas. This leads to the lack of insulin production in pancreas. Insulin is the hormone that regulates body’s blood glucose level. Typically, there are no signs or symptoms till a majority of these beta cells in the pancreas are destroyed resulting in insufficient insulin production.

Symptoms:

Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes include:

- Constant hunger and thirst

- Frequent urination

- Arid mouth

- Vomiting and Nausea

- Stomach pain

- Weight loss

- Exhaustion and Fatigue

- Blurry eyesight

- Breathing difficulty

- Frequent skin infections

Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes complications include:

- Mental confusion

- Hasty breathing

- Constant stomach ache

- Fainting or unconsciousness (in rare cases)

Diagnosis:

Type 1 diabetes diagnosis includes:

- Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test

- Random blood sugar test

- Fasting blood sugar test

Causes:

Scientific community has not yet been able to find out the exact causes of type 1 diabetes. Typically, in type 1 diabetes, immune system destroys the beta cells in the pancreas. This beta cells produce insulin to keep blood glucose level in control. Some other possible causes include:

- Genetics

- Viruses

- Environmental factors

Treatment:

Treatment for type 1 diabetes includes:

- Insulin

- Monitoring of blood sugar regularly

- Healthy diet rich in carbohydrates, and protein

- Regular exercise

Types of insulin

There are several different types of insulin. Here are just some of the many types of insulin:

- Long-acting insulin

- Short-acting (regular) insulin

- Intermediate-acting (NPH) insulin

- Rapid-acting insulin

Insulin is not taken orally. This is to make sure that the stomach enzymes do not break down the insulin and prevent its intended effect. Insulin is generally administered through injections or insulin pump.

Other Medications

Additional medications for treatment of type 1 diabetes may include:

- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors

- Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs)

- Aspirin (baby or regular)

- Cholesterol-lowering drugs

Risk Factors

Some of the many risk factors for type 1 diabetes include:

- Family history

- Genetics

- Geography (chances of type 1 diabetes increase as one moves away from equator)

- Age (age group - 4 to 7 years, and 10 to 14 years

Complications

Type-1 diabetes can cause several life-threatening complications affecting major body organs such as blood vessels, heart, eyes, kidney and nervous system. Listed below are just some of the many complications of type-1 diabetes.

- Diseases pertaining to heart and blood vessels.

- Damage of nerves.

- Damage to gastrointestinal tract nerves.

- Damage to Kidneys.

- Vision impairment.

- Cataract.

- Glaucoma.

- Damage to the feet. In some cases, this may even lead to leg amputation.

- Skin infections.

- Mouth infections.

- Miscarriage, stillbirth or birth defects in case of pregnancy.

Prevention

Medical fraternity has not been able to find a way to completely prevent type-1 diabetes. But scientists and researchers are working on ways to prevent the disease.

2.    Type 2 Diabetes

Scientifically referred to as noninsulin-dependent diabetes, Type-2 diabetes is a chronic medical condition that impacts the metabolism of glucose (sugar) in the body. In type-2 diabetes, human body isn’t able to produce enough insulin to regulate body sugar and/or starts resisting the positive effects of insulin.

Type-2 diabetes is commonly found in adults. However, several cases of children being affected by the same have been reported over the years too. Scientists and medicine experts have not found a cure for type-2 diabetes yet. However, it is easy to control and manage the disease by regular exercise, healthy diet and balanced lifestyle.

Symptoms:

Listed below are the signs and symptoms of type-2 diabetes:

- Heavy thirst

- Frequent urination

- Intense hunger

- Unexplained Weight loss

- Regular exhaustion and fatigue

- Blurry eyesight

- Slow-healing sores

- Skin infections

- Mouth infections

Diagnosis:

Diagnosis of type-2 diabetes is done by conducting the following tests:

- Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test

- Random blood sugar test

- Fasting blood sugar test

- Oral glucose tolerance test

Causes:

The major cause of type-2 diabetes is body’s resistance to insulin or lack of adequate insulin production by pancreas. Though scientists and medical experts have not yet found the reason of the same, some factors such as obesity and physical inactivity are considered to be the major drivers of the disease.

Treatment:

Treatment of type-2 diabetes can be done by:

- Ensuring healthy diet

- Partaking in regular work-out

- Taking diabetes control medicines

- Insulin therapy

- Monitoring blood glucose level

Treatment:

Medication for type-2 diabetes may include medicines such as:

- Metformin (Glucophage, Glumetza).

- Sulfonylureas (DiaBeta, Glynase)

- Meglitinides (repaglinide, nateglinide)

- Thiazolidinediones (Rosiglitazone, pioglitazone)

- DPP-4 inhibitors (sitagliptin, saxagliptin, linagliptin)

- GLP-1 receptor agonists (Exenatide, liraglutide)

- SGLT2 inhibitors (canagliflozin, dapagliflozin)

Insulin Therapy

Some type-2 diabetes patients may require insulin therapy. As discussed above, insulin cannot be taken orally as insulin gets disintegrated in stomach. Insulin is administered through injections or insulin pumps.

Here is a list of different types of insulin that are used to treat type-2 diabetes:

- Insulin aspart (Novolog)

- Insulin glulisine (Apidra)

- Insulin lispro (Humalog)

- Insulin isophane (Humulin N, Novolin N)

- Insulin glargine (Lantus)

- Insulin detemir (Levemir)

Risk Factors

Listed below are the risk factors of type-2 diabetes:

- Obesity or excessive body weight

- Physical inactivity

- Family history of type-2 diabetes

- Age (after 45 years of age)

- Prediabetes (glucose level higher than usual)

- Gestational diabetes

- Polycystic ovarian syndrome

Complications

Often type-2 diabetes is ignored. However, untreated type-2 diabetes may affect many vital body organs including heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys. Controlling blood glucose in the body can prevent these complications.

Here is a list of just some of the many life-threatening complications of type-2 diabetes:

- Heart and blood vessel disease (severe chest pain, heart attack, stroke, atherosclerosis).

- Damage of nerves.

- Nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, constipation and erectile dysfunction.

- Damage of kidney (kidney failure).

- Eyesight issues (partial or complete blindness, vision impairment, damage to retina cells).

- Damage to feet (in some cases it may lead to leg amputation).

- Hearing impairment.

- Skin allergies.

- Alzheimer's disease.

Prevention

While there are no scientific evidences proving that type-2 diabetes can be prevented. However, healthy lifestyle, regular exercise and balanced diet can help you prevent the disease. Even those diagnosed with the disease may prevent complications by healthy lifestyle, regular exercise and balanced diet. Here’s what you must do to prevent type-2 diabetes.

- Ensure balanced diet. Include fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your diet. Eat food rich in fibre.

- Ensure physical activity. Avoid sitting idle for long hours. Partake in regular exercise.

- Lose excess weight. Remember, obesity or excess body weight increases the risk of diabetes. Focus on healthy eating and regular exercise to lose weight and stay fit.

3.    Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is the type of diabetes that happens only during the period of pregnancy. This means that the otherwise normal blood glucose level in the body increases during the time of pregnancy.

Symptoms

There are no symptoms or signs for gestational diabetes. In most cases, it is found only during the routine pregnancy screening tests.

In some rare cases, pregnant women, suffering from gestational diabetes, may experience:

- Heavy thirst

- Intense hunger

- Frequent urination

Causes

During the term of the pregnancy, the placenta secretes hormones that may lead to excess glucose in the blood. In most cases, pancreas creates enough insulin to counter the excess glucose build during pregnancy. However, if blood glucose level increases, it leads to gestational diabetes.

Diagnosis

To diagnose gestational diabetes, blood test is done. An hour before the test, the patient is supposed to take a sugary drink. If the blood glucose is found to be 130 mg/dL [milligrams per deciliter or higher, then a fasting blood tests is conducted. Thereafter, one more blood test is done after approximately 3-hours. Follow up tests may be required if everything is found to be normal but the patient experiences gestational diabetes symptoms.

Treatment

Treatment of gestational diabetes involves:

- Checking blood glucose 4 or more times within a day.

- Urine tests. If ketones are found in the test, the diabetes is considered to be uncontrolled.

- Ensuring healthy diet as per a certified medical professional’s advice.

- Ensuring daily exercise

In addition, it is important to keep a track of the weight that you have gained during the duration of pregnancy.

Risk Factors

Gestational diabetes affects between 2% and 10% of pregnant women every year. Common risk factors of gestational diabetes are:

- Excessive weight gain before pregnancy

- High blood sugar levels

- Family history of diabetes

- History of gestational diabetes

- High blood pressure

- Medical complications

- Have given birth to a large baby before (greater than 9 pounds)

- Have experienced stillbirth or the new born has experienced some birth defects

Diabetes Myths

Myth #1: People with Diabetes can’t Eat Sugar

Reality : This is perhaps the most common of all diabetes myths. A large number of people believe that those with diabetes can’t eat sugar or sugar products. However, people suffering from this disease can eat sugar in moderation.

Myth #2: Type 2 Diabetes is nothing to Worry About

Reality : Many believe that type-2 diabetes is nothing to worry about. But it is far from truth. Diabetes in form should be considered mild. Untreated type-2 diabetes may lead to several life-threatening complications.

Myth #3: Type 2 Diabetes Concerns Only Fat People

Reality : A large number of people believe that type-2 diabetes only concerns overweight and obese people. However, the reality is that it can even affect people with normal weight, and in some cases underweight people too.

Myth #4: People with Diabetes become Blind and Face Leg Amputation

Reality : While diabetes remains a leading cause of partial or complete blindness and a large number of patients are also required to face leg amputations, those who are able to control their blood glucose level and weight face no complications whatsoever.

Myth #5: Diabetes is a Contagious Disease

Reality : This is one of the most common myths around diabetes. A large number of people believe that diabetes is a contagious disease. However, it is a non-communicable disease and cannot be passed on from one person to another. But it is important to know that diabetes can be passed genetically. This means it can be passed on from parents to children.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1) What to do if I have been recently diagnosed with diabetes?

Ans: If you have been diagnosed with diabetes recently, it is important to ensure a healthy lifestyle and ensure healthy diet. In addition, try to ensure physical activity. Don’t forget to take your medication (if prescribed) on timely basis.

2) What should be Ideal Blood Glucose (Sugar) Level if I have Diabetes?

Ans: Keeping your blood glucose level under control is important if you have diabetes to prevent any complications. The target blood glucose level varies from patient to patient and only a certified medical professional can help you determine your blood glucose level target.

3) Does Eating Sugar and Sugary Items Cause Diabetes?

Ans: Eating sugar or sugary products do not cause diabetes directly. However, it may lead to weight gain and even obesity. And obesity or weight gain can cause type-2 diabetes.

4) Can I Use Artificial Sweeteners?

Ans: Most artificial sweeteners feature acceptable daily intake (ADI) level of sugar. It is safer to drink or eat artificial sweeteners in quantity lower than the ADI level. However, pregnant women must avoid intake of artificial sweeteners.

5) How Much Physical Activity Should I do if I have Diabetes?

Ans: Being physically active can help you prevent complications of diabetes. Start with brisk walking for five to ten minutes per day and increase it over the period of time. But be advised to consult a certified medical professional to understand how much exercise you should do.

6) If I have Diabetes, Do I need to Take Care of My Foot?

Ans: Diabetes may lead to decreased blood flow or nerve damage in feet affecting it different ways. It is imperative to check your feet every day to avoid any complications.

7) What Insulin Do I Take?

Ans: Many diabetic patients require insulin therapy. However, there are different types of insulin and it is important to consult a certified medical professional to understand what type of insulin you require.

8) Is Diabetes Fully Curable?

Ans: Unfortunately, there is no complete cure for diabetes and those diagnosed with it will have it for the rest of their life. However, as discussed earlier, with healthy diet and healthy lifestyle, one can prevent complications related to diabetes.

9) What is Prediabetes?

Ans: Prediabetes is the medical condition in which the blood sugar level of a patient is higher than what’s normal, but is not high enough for diagnosis of diabetes. A large number of people across the globe suffer from prediabetes. It is vital to get tested for prediabetes.

10) Can Diabetes Lead to Serious Medical Emergencies?

Ans: Yes! Diabetes can lead to serious and life-threatening medical emergencies. Such emergencies happen when the blood glucose in the body becomes higher or lower than normal. It is sensible to contact a certified medical professional in the event of diabetic emergencies.

Last updated on : 13-09-2018

Disclaimer : Docprime doesn’t endorse or take any guarantee of the accuracy or completeness of information provided under this article and these are the views strictly of the writer. Docprime shall not be held responsible for any aspect of healthcare services administered with the information provided on this article.

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