Diabetes 101: All You Need To Know
According to World Health Organization (WHO), diabetes was the tenth biggest cause of mortality in 2019, accounting for an estimated 1.5 million fatalities. Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness, renal failure, heart attacks, stroke, and amputation of lower limbs. It may be controlled by diet, exercise, medication, frequent screening, and treatment for complications.
What is diabetes?
The majority of the food you consume is converted into sugar (also known as glucose) and delivered into your circulation. When your blood sugar rises, your pancreas sends a signal to release insulin. Insulin functions as a key, allowing blood sugar to enter cells and be used as energy.
Diabetes develops when your body’s cells cannot absorb glucose and utilize it for energy. This causes an accumulation of excess sugar in your system.
Type of diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes
Your body does not produce insulin if you have type 1 diabetes. Your immune system targets and kills insulin-producing cells in your pancreas. Type 1 diabetes is most commonly diagnosed in children and young adults, but it can occur at any age. To stay alive, people with type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day.
Type 2 Diabetes
If you have type 2 diabetes, your body does not produce or utilize insulin well. Type 2 diabetes, the most common type, can strike at any age, including younger. This kind of diabetes, however, is more common in middle-aged and older adults.
During pregnancy, some women acquire gestational diabetes. This form of diabetes usually goes away once the baby is born. If you’ve experienced gestational diabetes, you’re more likely to get type 2 later in life.
Blood sugar levels in prediabetes are greater than usual but not yet high enough to be identified as type 2. Prediabetes increases your chances of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Diabetes symptoms in general include:
- increased appetite
- thirst heightened
- losing weight
- vision blur
- severe exhaustion
- wounds that do not heal
Men with diabetes may have diminished sex desire, erectile dysfunction, and inadequate physical strength, in addition to the normal symptoms of diabetes. Meanwhile, it can cause symptoms such as urinary tract infections, yeast infections, and dry, itchy skin in women.
Moreover, symptoms of diabetes can differ for each type. Type 1 can cause unintentional weight loss, fatigue, and mood swing while type 2 may result in recurrent infections. This is because high glucose levels make it more difficult for the body to mend.
The majority of women with gestational diabetes may experience no symptoms.
Type 1 diabetes
Your immune system, which is generally responsible for fighting dangerous germs or viruses, attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. As a result, you have little to no insulin. Sugar accumulates in your circulation rather than being delivered to your cells.
Type 1 is assumed to be caused by a mix of genetic vulnerability and environmental factors, however, the exact nature of those variables is unknown.
Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes
In prediabetes and type 2 your cells grow resistant to the action of insulin, and your pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin to overcome this resistance. Sugar accumulates in your circulation rather than going into your cells, where it is needed for energy.
It’s unclear why this happens, although genetic and environmental variables are thought to have a role in the development of type 2. Obesity is significantly connected to this disease.
During pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones to keep the pregnancy going. These hormones make your cells more insulin resistant.
Your pancreas normally responds by manufacturing enough additional insulin to overcome this resistance. However, your pancreas cannot always keep up. When this occurs, too little glucose enters the cells and too much remains in the circulation, resulting in gestational diabetes.
Diabetes is diagnosed using the following tests:
A fasting plasma glucose test detects diabetes or prediabetes by checking your blood glucose levels after you have not eaten for at least 8 hours.
An oral glucose tolerance test analyzes your blood sugar levels after at least eight hours of fasting and two hours of drinking a glucose-containing beverage. This test determines if you have diabetes or prediabetes.
A random plasma glucose test determines your blood sugar without considering when you last ate. This test, coupled with a physical examination, is used to identify diabetes but not prediabetes.
A hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test which detects or confirms prediabetes or diabetes can be performed without fasting.
Positive test findings should be validated on a separate day by repeating the fasting plasma glucose test or the oral glucose tolerance test. Your doctor may recommend a zinc transporter 8 autoantibody (ZnT8Ab) test when you are initially diagnosed with diabetes. This blood test, combined with other information and test results, can assist identify whether or not a person has type 1 diabetes. The purpose of the ZnT8Ab test is to provide a rapid and accurate diagnosis, which can lead to appropriate treatment.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a diabetes diet. You’ll need to eat more fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains – foods high in nutrients and fiber but low in fat and calories – and limit your intake of saturated fats, processed carbs, and sweets.
However, determining what and how much to eat may be difficult. A certified dietician can assist you in developing a meal plan that is tailored to your specific health objectives, dietary choices, and lifestyle. Carbohydrate counting is probable, especially if you have type 1 or require insulin as part of your therapy.
Patients should frequent aerobic exercise. Exercise decreases blood sugar levels by transporting sugar into cells, where it is utilized for energy. It also improves insulin sensitivity, which means your body requires less insulin to deliver sugar to your cells.
Check your blood sugar levels
Only careful monitoring will ensure that your blood sugar level remains within your desired range. People with type 2 who do not use insulin tend to monitor their blood sugar levels substantially less regularly.
People who take insulin therapy may also choose to use a continuous glucose monitor to check their blood sugar levels. It can greatly minimize the number of fingersticks required to check blood sugar and give valuable information regarding blood sugar patterns.
Even with proper treatment, blood sugar levels can fluctuate unexpectedly. With the assistance of your doctor, you will understand how your blood sugar levels fluctuate in response to food, physical exercise, medications, sickness, alcohol, stress – and, for women, hormonal changes.
Insulin treatment is required for people with type 1 to survive. Many patients who have type 2 or gestational diabetes require insulin therapy as well.
There are several different forms of insulin, including short-acting (standard insulin), rapid-acting insulin, long-acting insulin, and intermediate alternatives. Your doctor may prescribe a combination of insulin types to use throughout the day and night, depending on your needs.
Other oral or injectable drugs may be administered as well. Certain diabetic treatments cause your pancreas to generate and release more insulin. Others prevent your liver from producing and releasing glucose, requiring less insulin to carry sugar into your cells.
Others prevent stomach or intestinal enzymes from breaking down carbs or make your cells more responsive to insulin. Metformin (Glumetza, Fortamet, and other similar medications) is usually the first medicine for type 2.
Another type of drug known as SGLT2 inhibitors might be employed. They function by preventing sugar from being reabsorbed by the kidneys. The sugar is instead eliminated in the urine.