Diabetes is a chronic disease affecting around 84.1 million US adults [i] and millions of people around the world. What happens is diabetes is that blood sugar levels increase to a dangerous level. The primary source of glucose in our body is the food we eat. Our body works in a way to move sugar from the blood into the cells with the help of a hormone insulin. This is intended to be stored so we can use it later for energy. In diabetes, our body either does not make enough insulin or is unable to use the stored insulin.

Types of Diabetes

Diabetes can get fatally damaging if not controlled or treated at early stages. It has the tendency to damage the nerves, kidneys, eyes and other organs of human body. There are a few different types of diabetes with lots in common but differences as well.

There is type 1 disease which is also known as autoimmune disease. The name is pretty much self-explanatory as the immune system gets disturbed and starts to attack cells in the pancreas. Pancreas is the organ where the insulins are produced and the researches are still after finding the fact as to what causes this attack. As per IDF, of all the diabetes patients, about 10 percent have this type. [ii]

In type 2 disease, the way our body metabolizes the sugar is disturbed. Since glucose (sugar) is just like the fuel for our body, it causes sever effects on the patient. Either the ability to produce enough glucose is disturbed or the body resists the effects of insulin. This type of diabetes is also known as adult-onset.

Prediabetes, as the name suggests, is just like an alarming sign or condition that you are on your way to catch diabetes. However, it is not that late to turn things around and opt for preventions rather than treatment. To put it simply, in prediabetes, you have higher levels of glucose but luckily not in the range of diabetes. According to an estimate, more than 86 million US citizens have prediabetes. [iii]

Diabetes Symptoms

It is the rising blood sugar levels that causes symptoms which vary, depending upon several factors. There are general symptoms of diabetes that include extra hunger, extra thirst, loss of weight, vision getting blurry and a lot of unexplained fatigue. Symptoms of diabetes in men include poor sexual performance, erectile dysfunction and weakness of muscles etc. Moreover, symptoms in women may range from simple yeast infections to urinary tract infections and having dry skin etc. It is interesting to note that most commonly, women with diabetes do not show any notable symptoms. A regular blood sugar test or glucose tolerance test during 24th and 28th week of gestation detects the condition.

Diabetes causes

There are no clear causes of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. However, according to the doctors, a mix of genetic factors with poor lifestyle choices causes diabetes. One important cause of diabetes is being overweight, which greatly increases your risk. Being obese, especially having a lot of fats in your belly makes your cells more resistant to insulin effects on glucose levels of the body. Type 2 diabetes runs in the family which means that if someone in your family has it, you have a higher chance of getting type 2 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes is most commonly caused by the disorder of hormones during pregnancy. Same goes for pregnant women, if they are obese or overweight at the time of getting pregnant or gain too much weight during pregnancy, they are more likely to get gestational diabetes.

Diabetes Diagnosis & Treatment

There are a few medications that doctors use to treat diabetes and it includes some oral medications and a few high potency drugs as well. Some medications can also be taken via injections, as per doctors’ recommendations. Insulin treatment is the most common and perhaps most effective treatment recommended by the doctors. This is particularly effective for type 1 diabetes. Since the body is unable to produce sufficient hormone, this treatment replaces the relevant hormone to keep everything under control.

Among four types of insulin that are most commonly used, doctors choose the one based on their effectiveness and how long their effects last. Rapid-action insulins are the ones that work within 15 minutes with the lasting effect of 3 to 4 hours. Similarly, there are other insulins with different reaction times and lasting etc.

There is no particular treatment for type 2 diabetes. However, doctors recommend a variety of diet and exercise to help control and manage type 2 diabetes. Doctors see how a patient reacts to lifestyle changes and a combination of diet changes as well. If they aren’t responding to the lifestyle and diet changes well, doctors may opt to a variety of medications. These may include SGLT2 inhibitors, Sulfonylureas and Glucagon-like peptides etc.

Healthy eating

One central part of controlling and managing diabetes is healthy and clean eating. If you are lucky, mere changing your diet may be enough to control the diabetes. Especially for type 1 disease, starchy and sugary type of foods may have catastrophic effects on your health. Depending upon your condition, the doctors may also restrict the amount of carbohydrates you take every day. In addition to that, you may also have to balance the carb intake with the insulin dose.

Doctors may ask the patients to work with a dietician to prescribe you a diet that works perfectly for you. It is of vital importance to take the right amounts of protein, fat and carbohydrates. All of these, when taken in the right proportions, are of great help in controlling blood sugar levels. Doctors also recommend eating small meals throughout the day to keep the diet clean and organized. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains play an important role in keeping our diabetes normal.  

[i] https://www.cdc.gov/features/diabetes-statistic-report/index.html

[ii] https://www.idf.org/aboutdiabetes/what-is-diabetes/types-of-diabetes.html

[iii] https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/what-is-prediabetes-or-borderline-diabetes