Everything You Need to Know About Diabetes

One in six people in India is diabetic. India has 77 million diabetic patients, making the country the second-highest diabetic nation. By 2045 134 million people in India will become diabetic. This is alarming. Read this blog to know about diabetes.

The biggest challenge in India concerning diabetes is a lack of awareness. 48% of the diabetic patients in India were not aware that they are diabetic. Many still believe in myths and don’t have proper knowledge regarding the causes and the signs of diabetes.

It is therefore that we come up with a multidimensional approach to prevent diabetes further. This article aims to bring in all the information you need to know about Diabetes.

Diabetes

Blood glucose level
Doctor checking blood sugar level with glucometer.

The word diabetes is a Greek word that means to pass on, and the word Mellitus is a Latin word that means sweet. The word diabetes has existed since 250 BC. It was in 1889 Mering and Minkowski discovered the role of the pancreas in causing Diabetes. The biggest breakthrough came in 1922 when Banting and his team discovered the hormone insulin. They suggested that insulin is effective in the treatment of Diabetes.

But what is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that results in high levels of blood glucose for prolonger time.

Our body mechanism breaks down the food we eat into glucose. The glucose enters the bloodstream. The body cells absorb glucose from the bloodstream. Cells use blood glucose (blood sugar) to burn and release energy.

Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood glucose levels and their absorption into the body cells. The beta cells of the pancreas produce insulin.

When the body becomes resistant to insulin or if insulin production is deficient, the blood glucose levels remain high. Due to which the absorption of glucose into the cells is also low. This causes blood glucose levels to remain high for a prolonged time. This is diabetes.

The normal blood glucose levels are 120 mg/dL. You are a diabetic patient if the blood glucose levels are high above 180 mg/dL.

Summary:

When the body becomes insulin resistant or when there is insulin deficiency it results in diabetes.

Symptoms

The sugar patient or the diabetic patient’s symptoms are not always clear. Many people are not aware that they have diabetes. Due to which many are undiagnosed. 1 in 2 (232 million) people across the world with diabetes were undiagnosed due to the symptoms being not obvious.

According to the doctors, the symptoms of diabetes sometimes do not make you feel unwell. Due to which the disease gets unnoticed and is left undiagnosed. But the key symptoms that indicate that you are diabetic are:

  • You feel tired especially during the day, after eating meals
  • Your desire to eat has increased especially after eating food
  • You feel to urinate frequently especially during night-time.
  • Having a feeling of unusual thirstiness.
  • Blurred vision
  • When you notice wounds that are healing slowly. It is due to decreased immunity.
  • Skin or yeast infection on skin
  • Sudden weight loss

Summary:

Symptoms of diabetes are not obvious. The major signs of diabetes are feeling thirsty unusually, feeling the desire to urinate, and increased hunger.

Types of diabetes & its causes

Types of diabetes mellitus and its causes are:

type of diabetes
  1. Type 1 diabetes: This diabetes is more common in children. Insulin deficiency in the body causes type 1 diabetes. The deficiency is due to the pancreases unable to create the amount of insulin required.

    Cause: Genetic variation is the leading cause of type 1 diabetes. A variation in HLA-DQA1, HLA-DQB1, HLA-DRB1 genes disturbs the auto-immune system. This triggers an auto-immune response that mistakenly attacks the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. Other causes of diabetes are bacterial and viral infections that impact the immune system.
  2. Type 2 diabetes: This is caused when the body becomes resistant to insulin. Due to insulin resistance, the body cells fail to absorb blood glucose properly. This results in high blood glucose levels. A high blood glucose level signals pancreas beta cells to produce more insulin. Due to which they go weak and finally are unable to produce enough insulin.

    Cause: Obesity, an active lifestyle and genetic factors are leading causes of type 2 diabetes. Due to heavyweight the pancreas beta cells grow weak and are unable to produce more glucose.
  3. Gestational Diabetes: This occurs during pregnancy. This goes away after childbirth. But it is quite possible for women who suffer from gestational diabetes to have type 2 diabetes later in their life.

    Cause: Unusual weight gain during pregnancy, Polycystic ovary syndrome are the leading cause of it.
  4. MOYD: this is maturity-onset diabetes of the young. This is a rare form of diabetes. It occurs before the age of 25. People with normal weight suffer from this condition.

    Cause: This occurs due to hereditary factors and genetic variations.

Summary:

Genetic variations, damage of beta cells due to weight gain, obesity, and an inactive lifestyle are leading causes of diabetes.

Diagnosis

Blood tests for diabetes diagnosis are:

  • Fasting blood sugar test: It is done after an overnight fast generally early in the morning. It measures the amount of glucose present in your blood after fast.
    – Blood glucose levels: below or equal to 99 mg/dL – Normal
    – 100 to 125 mg/dL- Prediabetes
    – Above 126 mg/dL- Diabetes
  • Random Blood Sugar Test: This test can be taken at any time. It measures blood glucose levels at the time of your test.
    – Blood glucose level above 200 mg/dL -Diabetes
  • Glucose Tolerance Test: A blood sample is taken after fast. You are given a liquid drink of glucose after the test. After 1 or 2 hours of the drink, again a blood sample is taken for measurement.
    Levels of Blood glucose – below or equal to 140 mg/dL –Normal
    – between 140 to 199 mg/dL – Prediabetes
    – above 200 mg/ dL – Diabetes
  • HbA1c test: Also known as Glycosylated hemoglobin test. This test measures the average blood glucose levels over the past 3 months. Glycosylated hemoglobin occurs when hemoglobin binds with glucose. A sign of poor management of diabetes is the high level of glycosylated hemoglobin.
    – HbA1C value less than 5.7%- Normal
    – Value between 5.7 and 6.4% – prediabetes,
    – Value above 6.5% – Diabetes.

When diabetic if your HbA1C test outcome is under 7% then the diabetes is under control. A value above 9% signifies poor management of diabetes.

Research has proved the fact that when a sugar patient keeps the glycosylated hemoglobin levels close to 7% they tend to avoid the risks of diabetic complications like kidney failure.

Summary:

You are diabetic if the fasting sugar levels above 126 mg/dL or Random testing sugar levels above 200 mg/dL or Hb Alc Values above 6.5%.

Diabetes Treatment

The goal of diabetes treatment is to control blood glucose levels.

Type 1 diabetes treatment:

  • Insulin Support: This generally requires insulin therapy.
  • Blood monitoring: Frequent blood monitoring is a must to see the outcome of blood glucose levels after every meal, or exercise, or after insulin therapy. It is essential in type 1 diabetes treatment.
  • Dietary change: Reduce carbs, eat healthy foods, and processed foods.
  • Lifestyle change: Exercise to relieve stress and maintain weight.

Type 2 diabetes treatment:

  • Medicine: For controlling blood glucose levels, Non-insulin medicines may be needed in type 2 diabetes treatment.
  • Dietary change: Low glycemic food, low carbohydrate diet, low-calorie diet can reduce weight and helps in blood glucose control.
  • Lifestyle change: physical activity, meditations are essential to strengthening muscle and increase glucose absorption by cells. This helps in controlling blood glucose levels efficiently.
  • In some cases, there may be a need for insulin therapy.

In some cases of type 1 and type 2 diabetes treatment, one may require additional medicine therapy like diuretics to avoid ketones accumulation, avoid kidney diseases, etc.

Summary:

Dietary and lifestyle changes are very effective in diabetes treatment.

Living with Diabetes

How do you know that your diabetes is under control? Here is the guideline to control diabetes:

  • Monitor your blood sugar levels using a glucometer. This device tests the blood glucose levels. Device outcomes can be used through mobile phones. It can help you to monitor your test results and guide you.
  • Monitor blood glucose levels after every meal or heavy exercise.
  • Get an HbA1c blood test done once every 3 months. It shall give you details on how well you managed your diabetes. Therefore, never delay this test.
  • Maintain good health routine and dietary control.
  • If you feel that your weight is increasing, and there are sudden changes in your mood, visit the doctor.
  • Never allow negativity and stress around you regarding the disease. It is possible to have diabetes reversal through dietary changes, lifestyle changes, and diabetic control programs.

Bottom line: Researchers are giving their valuable time to come up with more effective diabetic treatment. According to diabetes Wikipedia earlier diabetes was considered an untreatable disease. It is due to their effort today type 2 diabetes can be reversed to the best extend. Efforts are on in technologies like regeneration of beta cells, transplantation of beta cells, a new medicine for triggering insulin response, etc. Let science do its magic, but it is your positive attitude that can make the difference.

FAQ’s:

Can I have diabetes after my Gestational diabetes completely cured?

Despite the complete cure of gestational diabetes females are at higher risk of type 2 diabetes. Due to which you must maintain a healthy lifestyle and have dietary control for managing weight gain post-pregnancy.

How often should I check my blood glucose in diabetes?

If you have type 1 diabetes, check blood glucose after every meal. Checking blood glucose levels before driving, after heavy exercise or work is also good. For type 2 diabetes a checkup once a day would be good. But again everything depends on your health condition.

Can I eat sugar-free products as much as I desire?

Many sugar-free products contain a good amount of carbohydrates and are rich in calorie count. Therefore, take these products in a small amount.

References:

  1. Diabetes Tests. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/getting-tested.html
  2. Countries with the highest number of diabetics worldwide in 2019. Retrieved from:
    https://www.statista.com/statistics/281082/countries-with-highest-number-of-diabetics/#:~:text=China%20is%20the%20country%20with,134%20million%20people%20with%20diabetes
  3. Sapra, A., & Bhandari, P. (2021). Diabetes Mellitus. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551501/

 

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