What is Diabetes?
Diabetes, or medically, diabetes mellitus, is a metabolic disorder. The human body suffering from diabetes fails to maintain the blood glucose levels. Diabetes is caused due to a combination of hereditary and environmental factors. Usually, in diabetes, the body fails to produce or properly use insulin, a hormone that is responsible for converting sugar, starches and various other foods into energy.
Diabetes is usually due to a decreased production of insulin or resistance to its effects, both of which leads to hyperglycemia, which is responsible for the acute signs of diabetes.
Diabetes mellitus refers to the group of diseases that are caused due to improper insulin secretion or insulin action. In both the cases, it leads to higher levels of blood glucose.
Symptoms of Diabetes
The major symptoms of type 1 diabetes are excessive urine production, resulting compensatory thirst and increased fluid intake, blurred vision, unexplained weight loss, lethargy, and changes in energy metabolism.
The main symptoms of type 2 diabetes include blurry vision, slow healing of cuts and sores, increased thirst, dry mouth, frequent urination and leg pain.
The other common symptoms of diabetes include exhaustion / tiredness with tremors , sleeplessness or disturbed sleep, lack of concentration, confused mind, memory loss and irritability, vague pain / cramps, numbness and tingling sensation in extremities or in any parts, burning feet / hands, sweet smelly urine and development of recurrent boils.
Diagnosis of Diabetes
There are various tests which are performed to diagnose the blood glucose levels. The fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test is performed on persons who have not eaten anything for the last 8 hours. In the test, people having a plasma glucose level of 100 to 125 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) have a form of pre-diabetes. It is called impaired fasting glucose (IFG) which means a person has an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes although it is not present yet. A level of 126 mg/dL or above means a person has diabetes. However, this should be confirmed by repeating the test on another day.
The oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) is performed on a person to test the blood glucose levels after a person fasts for 8 hours and 2 hours after the person drinks a glucose containing beverage. The tests results and diagnosis are similar to those of the FPG.
The random plasma glucose test is performed on a person without considering what and when the person has eaten. A blood glucose level of 200 mg/dL or higher can mean a person has diabetes in this test.
Causes of Diabetes
Heredity and inherited traits play an important role in causing diabetes. It is found that the person whose mother, father or any other family member is diabetic has exceptionally higher rates of acquiring it than those who don’t have any diabetic member in the family.
Increasing age and decreasing efficiency of bodily metabolic activity is also a major reason of diabetes.
Improper nutrition, low intake of proteins and fibers and higher intake of refined products may also lead to diabetes. Obesity is also a major factor for developing type 2 diabetes. It is found that obese people are more readily affected by diabetes than those who are not obese.
A sedentary lifestyle may also contribute to the development of diabetes. People who exercise thrice a week are considerable safer than those who don’t.
Apart from it, some drugs are also found to trigger the disease. The most common among these are Clozapine (Clozaril), quetiapine (Seroquel) olanzapine (Zyprexa), risperidone (Risperdal) and ziprasidone (Geodon).
Staphylococci bacteria that infect the pancreas may also be responsible for development of diabetes. Moreover, high triglyceride and cholesterol levels may also lead to the disease.
Types of Diabetes
There are mainly three types of diabetes- Type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. Type 1 diabetes or Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM) refers to the type where the pancreas fails to produce the hormone insulin. This leads to high blood sugar levels and the patient needs shots of insulin injected from outside. Type 1 diabetes is also known as juvenile diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is prevalent among children. It is believed that this type of diabetes occurs due to the auto immune response against the beta cells of the islets of lengerhans in the pancreas.
Type 2 diabetes or Non Insulin Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM) results from the insulin resistance of the body. Due to this the body craves for more and more insulin. Although the insulin production is adequate, the body fails to utilize this as the cells acquire insulin resistance. This leads to improper metabolism and abnormally high levels of blood glucose. Type 2 diabetes attacks the elderly people more often than the other age groups.
Gestational diabetes is temporary and is prevalent during pregnancy. The features of gestational diabetes are similar to those of type 2 diabetes. It usually occurs in the second trimester of pregnancy and in an average; about 5% of the pregnant ladies suffer from it. Gestational diabetes increasingly subsides after the delivery.
Treatment of Diabetes
Diabetes can be treated with insulin treatments and oral medications. The insulin treatment is suitable for noninsulin dependent diabetes patients who fail to regulate the blood sugar levels through diet and exercises. Insulin treatment is also a meaningful way of preventing high blood gluscose levels during pregnancy and surgeries.
Doctor’s usually check patient’s age, weight and the severity of diabetes before prescribing any medication. It is found that insulin becomes increasingly effective with better weight control. When diet,
Physical exercise and medications don’t work; the doctor may prescribe insulin treatment. Insulin treatment is usually administered as injections. The doctor instructs the patient about how to purchase, mix and inject the injections.
The oral diabetes medications are for those patients whose bodies are still able to produce some amounts of diabetes. This is especially helpful for type 2 diabetes. Usually the medications are prescribed with dietary changes and a daily exercise schedule. There are various kinds of diabetes pills depending upon their functions. The most common types of pills include sulfonylureas, biguanides, thiazolidinediones, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors and dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPP-IV) inhibitors and meglitinides. Apart from these, a combination of two pills into one may also be prescribed if need arises.
Living with Diabetes
Diabetes is a complex condition and it requires proper care and serious knowhow of the disease to live with the disease. Firstly, the patients should try avoiding a sedentary life. Regular exercise may help remaining fit more than expected.
Intake of healthy food is also important. Moreover, the patients should take regular medicines to avoid any sudden complexity. The blood sugar levels should regularly be checked to determine the current condition. It would also show the improvements and provide help if the condition worsens. Moreover, the warning signals should be regularly monitored. In case of severity it is best to consult with the doctor.
Latest technological advancements have led to the invention of quality monitors which help the diabetes patients a great deal. Monitoring blood glucose levels is one of the best ways to remain in control and know the condition surely, while suffering from diabetes.
Prevention of Diabetes
The first step towards prevention of diabetes is to detect the pre diabetes symptoms early. For this, whenever an individual shows the symptoms, he/she should immediately consult with the doctor. The good news is that if diabetes is detected early, it can be treated with efficiency by increasing the level of physical activity and maintaining the diet.
Some close factors such as being overweight, unhealthy cholesterol, smoking, high blood glucose, high blood pressure, and physical inactivity puts a person in the high risk category in developing diabetes. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle and avoiding these factors may have a positive impact in the prevention of the disease.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle also prevents diabetes. For this, the individuals should take up a healthy routine by including sufficient exercises, healthy diet and regular blood glucose tests. Although diabetes is a complex situation, by following these simple guidelines, people may stay healthy and prevent the disease to a large extent.