Diabetes has become a common word in every household. What is it actually? Diabetes is a metabolic disease that results in high blood sugar. This kind of a condition can be due to the following factors:
- Inadequate insulin production
- Body not responding to insulin
- Both (a) and (b)
About 27 million people are diagnosed with high blood sugar in the U.S. and prediabetes has affected almost 86 million people.
Type 1 diabetes: This is an autoimmune disease where the immune system damages the cells in the pancreas where insulin is made.
Type 2 diabetes: This type of disease appears when the body becomes resistant to insulin thereby resulting in sugar build up in blood.
Prediabetes: This is when the blood sugar is higher than normal but not enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.
Gestational diabetes: This occurs during pregnancy and the insulin-blocking hormones are responsible for this type of diabetes.
The symptoms, causes and treatment are different for different type of diabetes. The general symptoms of diabetes include excessive thirst and hunger, drowsiness, fatigue, dry and itchy skin, frequent urination, vision problem and slow-healing wounds. There can also be dark patches on the skin of armpits and neck. The symptoms of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can appear at any age however, type 1 diabetes mostly occurs in children and young adults. Type 2 diabetes is seen mostly for people above 45 years of age but younger people are also being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes due to a sedentary lifestyle.
Causes of diabetes:
The causes are different for different types of diabetes. However, a combination of genes and environmental factors triggers diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes:
The exact cause behind type 2 diabetes is not yet known. Owing to some reason the immune system attacks the pancreas thereby destroying insulin-producing beta cells. Genes might play some role in some cases while in some cases virus attack is also possible.
Type 2 diabetes:
This form of diabetes can appear from a combination of lifestyle and genetics. The risk also increases for people who are obese or overweight. When a person is overweight then the cells become more resistant to insulin on blood sugar. This condition is transferable within family members.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy results in this form of diabetes. The placenta produces such hormones that affect the sensitiveness of cells towards insulin which ultimately results in high blood sugar during pregnancy. This usually happens to women who are overweight during pregnancy or who gain too much weight during pregnancy.
What is the treatment?
In order to keep any type of diabetes under control, a person will have to take the help of a professional. The main aim would be keeping the blood sugar level within the range. The range depends on the type of diagnosed diabetes. For example, the blood sugar target is much lower in the case of gestational diabetes. One of the most important step would include physical activities. Consultation with a doctor is required to understand the level of physical activity and diet required.
Treatment for type 1:
Diabetes is a chronic condition that can last a lifetime. The damage caused to the pancreas in case of type 1 diabetes is permanent and therefore insulin is required to live. One will have to inject insulin under the skin and the method will be shown by the doctor. The blood sugar levels must be checked throughout the day. There might also be a need for medications to control cholesterol, high blood pressure and other complications.
Treatment for type 2:
This type of diabetes is to be managed through exercise and diet. Such can also be treated with medication which will help the body in using insulin in a more effective way. Consultation with a doctor is required before taking any medication. Medications are also required for blood pressure and cholesterol.
Treatment for gestational diabetes:
The blood sugar level needs to be monitored a number of times throughout the day. If the level is high then diet or exercise might or might not bring down the level. Many women might also need insulin to lower the blood sugar level.
Can it be prevented?
Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented. The risk of type 2 diabetes can be lowered with regular exercise, controlled weight and diet, no smoking and low cholesterol levels. Even if one is suffering or suffered from gestational diabetes or prediabetes, then these habits can delay or even prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. The medications might also result in hypoglycaemia, a condition with very low blood glucose level. The main symptoms of hypoglycaemia include anxiety, hunger, nausea, tremors, dizziness, drowsiness, headache, visual changes and difficulties in concentrating. Extreme low blood sugar level can even lead to seizures and unconsciousness. The warning signs of hypoglycaemia can be best learnt from a doctor. The best possible way to avoid hypoglycaemia is eating regular meals and monitoring the blood sugar levels.
In the case of prediabetes, here is a list of things to be followed.
- Get 150 minutes of aerobic exercise that includes walking or cycling.
- Cut down saturated and trans-fat in addition to carbohydrates.
- More fruits, whole grains and vegetables are to be included.
- Small portion meals.
- Take an active part in losing weight.
Gestational diabetes tends to go away just after the baby is delivered. However, it increases the risk of acquiring diabetes later in life. As stated by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) almost half of the women with gestational diabetes are likely to develop type 2 diabetes with 5 to 10 years of delivering the child. Diabetes during pregnancy might bring complications such as jaundice and breathing problems for the new-born.
What should be the diet?
The key to managing diabetes is diet. For some cases, a healthy diet can be enough to keep control of the disease.
The blood sugar level is directly proportional to the type of diet that the person follows. The blood sugar level rises up rapidly with the consumption of starchy or sugary foods. The doctor might recommend limited consumption of carbohydrates. There should be a complete balance between carbohydrate intake and insulin doses.
The right type of foods can help in controlling both blood sugar and excess weight. A person may consult a dietitian so as to know how much carbohydrate is allowed at each meal and throughout the day. Small meals throughout the day can keep the blood sugar levels steady. Small portion meals throughout the day are preferable while giving emphasis to healthy foods such as fruits, whole grains, vegetables, lean protein (fish and poultry).
A well-balanced diet is definitely recommended when a person is pregnant and when a proper diet is maintained then medications can be avoided. The portion sizes along with sugary or salty foods must be controlled without consuming too much. A nutritionist or dietitian can provide the right diet plan.
Diabetes in children:
Children can get affected by both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This disease tends to damage the heart and kidneys and therefore controlling it is required from a very young age.
Type 1 diabetes:
This disease tends to start from the childhood itself. The main symptom for this disease is increased urination. Kids may even wet the bed even after they have been toilet trained. Some other signs for this condition are excess fatigue, hunger and thirst. Such a condition must be treated immediately as there lies a chance of dehydration that might lead to medical emergencies.
Type 2 diabetes:
Type 2 diabetes was rare in case of children and so type 1 diabetes was even termed as juvenile diabetes. Nowadays, more children are susceptible to type 2 diabetes because of excess weight or obesity. Almost 40 percent of children with diabetes do not show any symptoms and the problem can only be ascertained after a physical examination is done. When such a disease goes untreated then life-long complication occurs that includes heart disease, kidney problem and vision problem.
To conclude, some type of diabetes is not within control while some other can be prevented with better lifestyle choices. For more such information, do visit https://patientmd.com/