Scientifically, diabetes is known
as Diabetes mellitus, a disease that causes high levels of blood sugar. While it
is normal for blood sugar levels to rise especially when we consume foods with
high sugar content like carbohydrates, it isn’t normal for that blood sugar to
remain high for a long time.
The body produces insulin, a chemical that helps the body move the sugar from your blood into relevant body cells for storage. In the case of diabetes, the body isn’t either able to produce enough insulin to aid in reducing blood sugar levels or the insulin produced isn’t effective enough and therefore, has no influence in reducing the high blood sugar levels.
This leaves the patient with high levels of sugar in the blood at all times. Untreated high blood sugar, usually as a result of diabetes is harmful to the body as it can damage the kidney, eyes and other body organs.
Types of Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes.
This is an autoimmune disease (A condition that causes your immune system to attack and destroy some healthy body cells).
In the case of Type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks cells in the pancreases. Insulin is made in the pancreases and if they are not functional, they either produce less insulin or produce none at all. It is unclear why the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells like those in the pancreases. About 10% of patients suffer from type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes
When it comes to Type 2 diabetes, the body simply becomes resistant to insulin. This means that sugar builds up in your blood system without necessarily being moved to storage cells or being converted to energy.
This type of diabetes occurs when blood sugar level is high but not high enough to cause a diagnosis for type 2 diabetes.
This type of diabetes relates to pregnant women. When a woman is pregnant, the overload of hormones in the blood might hinder production of insulin. Some of these hormones are insulin blocking in nature and are produced by the placenta.
General symptoms of diabetes
It is important to note that every type of diabetes have specific symptoms. General symptoms include;
1. Increased hunger and thirst.
2. A patient begins to lose weight
3.A diabetic patient urinates frequently
4. Diabetic patients have blurry vision
5. Patient's experience extreme fatigue.
6. Sores that take long to heal or don’t heal at all.
Symptoms of diabetes in men
In addition to the general symptoms of diabetes that affect both men and women, men may experience decrease drive for sex, erectile dysfunction and inadequate strength in the muscles.
Symptoms in women
Women suffering from diabetes might also have symptoms such as urinary tract infections, dry skin and yeast infection.
Symptom specific to Gestational diabetes
Most of the women suffering from this type of diabetes have no visible symptoms as in the case of type 1 and 2 diabetes. During the routine blood sugar test or oral glucose tolerance test, this type of diabetes can easily be detected.
In rare instances, women suffering from gestational diabetes can experience some of the general symptoms such as extreme thirst and frequent urination.
Causes of Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes causes
It is not yet clear why the immune system would mistakenly attack and destroy the beta cells in the pancreases that aid in production of insulin. Genetics might play a factor. Other possible causes might be allergies or infections that sets off the immune system to react in a malicious manner.
Type 2 diabetes causes
Lifestyle and geneticist play a huge role when it comes to type 2 diabetes. Being overweight means that you have extra fats in your body that might cause cells to be immune to insulin. On the other hand, drinking too much and eating a lot of foods with added sugars might put you at risk of contracting diabetes.
Genetics plays a hand too as family members might share cells that make them vulnerable to type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes risk factors.
Risk factors are the things that are likely to make you more vulnerable to getting diabetes. Like the symptoms, risk factors are general or specific to a certain type of diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes risk factors
Chances of you being a type 1 diabetic patient is high if your family has a history of the disease. Family members share both the good and bad cells some of which make you more vulnerable to type 1 diabetes and other diseases.
Type 2 diabetes risk factors
ü Being overweight
ü Age factor-older people above 45 years are at risk as compared to young people.
ü Coming from a family with a history of type 2 diabetes
ü Physical inactivity might put you at risk.
ü Having prediabetes
ü High blood pressure and high cholesterol.
ü Being African American, Latino or Hispanic.
ü Too much weight
ü had gestation diabetes in a past pregnancy.
ü Having given birth to an overweight child
ü Coming from a family with a history of type 2 diabetes
ü Having Polycystic ovary syndrome.
Other complications relating to diabetes
Too much sugar in the blood results to a number of complications plus damage to vital body organs. Diabetes ensures that the blood sugar is always high and the following conditions might come as a result of the high blood sugar.
ü Heart complications and stroke on certain parts of the body.
ü Vision loss or blurry vision
ü Nerve damage as a result of frequent high blood sugar
ü Kidney related complications (Nephropathy)
ü Hearing complications
ü Infections/sores on the foot that take long to heal or don’t health at all.
ü Skin damage.
ü Having a premature birth
ü Being overweight throughout pregnancy
ü Having still birth
ü Low blood sugar later on after the pregnancy
ü Kidney related diseases.
Type 1 diabetes
Insulin plays a huge role in treating type 1 diabetes. Usually, this type of diabetes occurs as the body isn’t able to produce enough insulin. Insulin injections help the body carry out blood regulation functions even without enough insulin from the pancreases.
Types of insulin.
ü Rapid acting Insulin-It starts acting within 15 minutes and its effect last for 3-4 hours.
ü Short-acting insulin -it stats acting within 30 minutes but its effect last longer in the body, usually, between 6-8 hours.
ü Intermediate acting insulin-this starts working within 1-2 hours and it last much longer in the blood. Usually between 12-18 hours.
ü Long-acting insulin starts acting a few hours after injection but its effect last for 24 or longer.
Type 2 diabetes
For some people, exercise and the correct life style might help them manage type 2 diabetes. For other people, this is not enough and they therefore need medication.
Medication to help you manage type 2 diabetes.
· Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors--This medication will help your body slow down the process by which the body breaks sugars and starchy foods. By slowing down the breakdown process, there is less concentration of sugar in the blood.
· Biguanides-Reduces the amount of sugar that the liver makes. This reduces the general blood sugar levels.
· DPP-4 inhibitors-this medication helps improve your blood sugar without necessarily having to drop it too low.
· Glucagon-It changes the way the body produces insulin.
· Meglitinides-This medication stimulates your pancreases to release more insulin.
· SGLT2 inhibitors-This medication helps the body release more glucose into urine hence lowering blood sugar levels.
You need to monitor your blood sugar level for several days. High blood sugar levels might be corrected by exercise and making the correct dietary changes. Where necessary, the doctor might recommend insulin which is safe for the growing fetus.
Diet and Diabetes
Blood sugar levels rise and falls depending with the type of foods that you eat. Starchy and sugary foods rapidly increase the blood sugar. A doctor might recommend that you reduce or balance your carbs. Depending on your insulin intake, the doctor will tell you the types of foods that are good for you.
Eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Frequently exercise your body in order to keep your blood sugar steady.
If you find yourself with any signs relating to diabetes, you need to be tested. For women, there are always regular testing of diabetes during their 2 or 3rd trimester. The following blood tests are used to track prediabetes and diabetes.
· The fasting plasma glucose test. This measures your blood sugar level after you fast for about 8 hours.
· A1C Test provides a review of your blood sugar levels for the past 3 months.
· When it comes to glucose challenge test, your blood sugar is monitored an hour after you drink a sugary drink.
ü Doing various exercises, a day. Your body needs about 150 minutes of exercise per week.
ü Make dietary changes. Too much processed carbs and fatty foods increase your risk to be a diabetic.
ü Include more fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your daily intake.
ü Try not to be overweight. Excessing and making dietary changes will help here.
Diabetes and pregnancy
For women who have never had diabetes, Gestational diabetes can befall them during pregnancy. Various hormones are produced by various body organs for various functions. The placenta in particular produces hormones that might make body resistant to insulin.
Pre gestation diabetes occurs when a woman who had diabetes before conceiving carries the diabetes all the way into pregnancy.
Gestational diabetes might go away after the pregnancy. However, this increases your chances of being diabetic later on.
Having diabetes during pregnancy might increase the chance of your new born having complications such as kidney complications.
If you are diagnosed with either pre gestational or gestational diabetes, then you need to monitor your blood sugar levels after pregnancy and before another pregnancy.
Diabetes in children
Children as in as much risk as adults when it comes to getting diabetes. Type 1 and 2 diabetes are common among children. Children need to control their blood sugar, getting diabetes might affect their developing organs such as the heart and kidneys
Type one diabetes in adults start in childhood which means that the signs start manifesting themselves at an early age. Frequent urination, thirst and hunger are some of the common signs.
Earlier days of science used to refer type 1 diabetes as juvenile diabetes since type 2 diabetes was so rare in children. However, more children are obese and overweight resulting to type 2 diabetes among children.
To sum up.
Diabetes kills millions of people each year in the world. While we might not be able to control factors such as genetics, we can make the right life and dietary choices which might help us fight diabetes.