Diabetes describes a group of metabolic diseases :
What is Diabetes? Diabetes is a group of metabolic disorders in which there are high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period. Symptoms of high blood sugar include frequent urination, increased thirst, and increased hunger. If left untreated, it can cause many complications. Acute complications can include diabetic ketoacidosis, hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state, or death. Serious long-term complications include cardiovascular disease, stroke, chronic kidney disease, foot ulcers, and damage to the eyes.
This information hub offers detailed but easy-to-follow information about diabetes.
There are three types of diabetes:
1) What is Diabetes type 1 ?
The body does not produce insulin. Some people may refer to this type as insulin-dependent diabetes, juvenile diabetes, or early-onset diabetes. People usually develop type 1 diabetes before their 40th year, often in early adulthood or teenage years.
Type 1 diabetes is nowhere near as common as type 2 diabetes. Approximately 10% of all diabetes cases are type 1.
Patients with type 1 diabetes will need to take insulin injections for the rest of their life. They must also ensure proper blood-glucose levels by carrying out regular blood tests and following a special diet.
2) What is diabetes type 2 ?
The body does not produce enough insulin for proper function, or the cells in the body do not react to insulin (insulin resistance).
Overweight and obese people have a much higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those with a healthy body weight. People with a lot of visceral fat, also known as central obesity, belly fat, or abdominal obesity, are especially at risk. Being overweight/obese causes the body to release chemicals that can destabilize the body’s cardiovascular and metabolic systems.
Being overweight, physically inactive and eating the wrong foods all contribute to our risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Drinking just one can of (non-diet) soda per day can raise our risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 22%. The scientists believe that the impact of sugary soft drinks on diabetes risk may be a direct one, rather than simply an influence on body weight.
The risk of developing type 2 diabetes is also greater as we get older. Experts are not completely sure why, but say that as we age we tend to put on weight and become less physically active. Those with a close relative who had/had type 2 diabetes, people of Middle Eastern, African, or South Asian descent also have a higher risk of developing the disease.
3) Gestational diabetes
This type affects females during pregnancy. Some women have very high levels of glucose in their blood, and their bodies are unable to produce enough insulin to transport all of the glucose into their cells, resulting in progressively rising levels of glucose.
Diagnosis of gestational diabetes is made during pregnancy.
The majority of gestational diabetes patients can control their diabetes with exercise and diet. Between 10% to 20% of them will need to take some kind of blood-glucose-controlling medications. Undiagnosed or uncontrolled gestational diabetes can raise the risk of complications during childbirth. The baby may be bigger than he/she should be.
Scientists from the National Institutes of Health and Harvard University found that women whose diets before becoming pregnant were high in animal fat and cholesterol had a higher risk for gestational diabetes, compared to their counterparts whose diets were low in cholesterol and animal fats.
What is prediabetes?
The vast majority of patients with type 2 diabetes initially had prediabetes. Their blood glucose levels where higher than normal, but not high enough to merit a diabetes diagnosis. The cells in the body are becoming resistant to insulin.
Studies have indicated that even at the prediabetes stage, some damage to the circulatory system and the heart may already have occurred.
Diabetes is a metabolism disorder
Diabetes (diabetes mellitus) is classed as a metabolism disorder. Metabolism refers to the way our bodies use digested food for energy and growth. Most of what we eat is broken down into glucose. Glucose is a form of sugar in the blood – it is the principal source of fuel for our bodies.
When our food is digested, the glucose makes its way into our bloodstream. Our cells use the glucose for energy and growth. However, glucose cannot enter our cells without insulin being present – insulin makes it possible for our cells to take in the glucose.
Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas. After eating, the pancreas automatically releases an adequate quantity of insulin to move the glucose present in our blood into the cells, as soon as glucose enters the cells blood-glucose levels drop.
A person with diabetes has a condition in which the quantity of glucose in the blood is too elevated (hyperglycemia). This is because the body either does not produce enough insulin, produces no insulin, or has cells that do not respond properly to the insulin the pancreas produces. This results in too much glucose building up in the blood. This excess blood glucose eventually passes out of the body in urine. So, even though the blood has plenty of glucose, the cells are not getting it for their essential energy and growth requirements.
How to determine whether you have diabetes, prediabetes or neither
Doctors can determine whether a patient has a normal metabolism, prediabetes or diabetes in one of three different ways – there are three possible tests:
- The A1C test
– at least 6.5% means diabetes
– between 5.7% and 5.99% means prediabetes
– less than 5.7% means normal
- The FPG (fasting plasma glucose) test
– at least 126 mg/dl means diabetes
– between 100 mg/dl and 125.99 mg/dl means prediabetes
– less than 100 mg/dl means normal
- The OGTT (oral glucose tolerance test)
– at least 200 mg/dl means diabetes
– between 140 and 199.9 mg/dl means prediabetes
– less than 140 mg/dl means normal
Controlling diabetes – treatment is effective and important
All types of diabetes are treatable. Diabetes type 1 lasts a lifetime, there is no known cure. Type 2 usually lasts a lifetime, however, some people have managed to get rid of their symptoms without medication, through a combination of exercise, diet and body weight control.
Researchers from the Mayo Clinic Arizona in Scottsdale showed that gastric bypass surgery can reverse type 2 diabetes in a high proportion of patients. They added that within three to five years the disease recurs in approximately 21% of them.
Treatment of Patients with type 1 is done with regular insulin injections, special diet and exercise.
Treatment of Patients with Type 2 diabetes is usually done with tablets, exercise and a special diet, but sometimes insulin injections are also used.
The patient has a significantly higher risk of developing complications if there is no adequate control over diabetes.
Complications linked to badly controlled diabetes:
Below is a list of possible complications that can be caused by badly controlled diabetes:
- Eye complications – glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and some others
- Skin complications – people are more susceptible to skin infections and skin disorders
- Heart problems – such as ischemic heart disease, when the blood supply to the heart muscle is diminished
- Hypertension – common in people with diabetes, which can raise the risk of kidney disease, eye problems, heart attack and stroke
- Mental health – uncontrolled diabetes raises the risk of suffering from depression, anxiety and some other mental disorders
- Hearing loss – patients have a higher risk of developing hearing problems
- Gum disease – there is a much higher prevalence of gum disease among patients
- Gastroparesis – the muscles of the stomach stop working properly
- PAD (peripheral arterial disease) – symptoms may include pain in the leg, tingling and sometimes problems walking properly
- Erectile dysfunction – male impotence.
- Infections – people with badly controlled diabetes are much more susceptible to infections
- Healing of wounds – cuts and lesions take much longer to heal