Diabetes is a medical condition which marks the presence of high levels of blood sugar. The sugar present in blood is procured from the food that is consumed. This sugar obtained is furthermore, used up by the body as energy which is done by the help of insulin. Insulin is the hormone secreted by the pancreas, which maintains the level of glucose in the blood. It takes up the sugar, converts it to glucose and this glucose is then used to provide energy to the body. When the body is unable to produce enough insulin to get these functions done, then such a condition is called diabetes.
Diabetes: An Overview
Diabetes mellitus or better known as diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which body contains high blood sugar levels. This condition brings along bundles of serious complications that tend to risk the life of the patient suffering from it. The general complications include heart diseases, renal failure, vision damage, coma and many more. Thus, this disease cannot be left unattended.
Types of Diabetes
There exist three types of diabetes, which are:
- Type I Diabetes: In the type 1 diabetes, body is unable to synthesize insulin which leads to very high levels of blood sugar. To treat this condition the patient has to administer insulin injections through the entire lifetime. Also, continuous monitoring of blood glucose levels is required via blood tests. Type-1 diabetes usually arises in early age up to 40 years and affects a small amount of population. Thus, it is also known as early onset diabetes.
- Type II Diabetes: It is the most common type of diabetes encountered in which the body’s ability to produce sufficient amount of insulin gets impaired. Another case may be that of insulin resistance in which the cells do not react to the effect of insulin. This condition can be controlled by a healthy lifestyle and regular monitoring of the blood sugar levels but being a progressive disorder that gets worse by age, one might end up taking insulin injections or tablets.
- Gestational Diabetes: This type of diabetes occurs in females during pregnancy when the blood glucose levels increase beyond the normal limit. Women who are obese and have high cholesterol levels are prone to gestational diabetes. This condition has risks and complications associated to the childbirth as the size of the baby may be big, therefore it should not be left undetected or uncontrolled. It affects almost one fourth of the pregnant population.
Symptoms of Diabetes
The symptoms for each of the type of diabetes appear differently, which include:
- Type I Diabetes: The symptoms of type 1 diabetes have a rapid appearance over a short time period due to high content of sugar in the blood. The general symptoms include:
– Frequent need to urinate, which increases during night.
– Feeling thirsty all the time due to excess urination.
– Weight loss even without any effort.
– Increased feeling of hunger because body is unable to use the calories consumed.
– Blurriness in the vision due to accumulation of sugar on the lens of the eye.
– Fatigue and feeling of being tired prevails all the time.
- Type II Diabetes: The type 2 diabetes can have serious health outcomes thus it becomes inevitable to leave the condition unattended. Hence, the symptoms should be carefully observed, which include:
– Increased water consumption due to increased thirst.
– Greater than before feelings of hunger even after having food.
– Dryness in the mouth.
– Frequent urge to urinate.
– Involuntary weight loss.
– Frequent occurrence of headaches.
– Reduced and blurry vision.
– Constant feeling of exhaustion.
- Gestational Diabetes: There are no specific symptoms to this condition. The expecting mothers need to get tested in between the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy. The presence of high sugar levels needs to be attended as soon as possible to prevent any potential harm to the mother or the child.
Causes of Diabetes
Each of the diabetes is different from the other so the cause to each of them also varies. The possible causes to each are:
- Type I Diabetes: The common causes for type 1 diabetes are:
– Insufficient amount of insulin in the blood.
– Excessive food consumption
– Regular consumption of medicines like corticosteroids and decongestants.
– Fluctuation in hormone levels.
– Rapid growth
- Type II Diabetes: The causes that account for type 2 diabetes are:
– Pancreatic inability to produce required amount of insulin.
– Insulin resistance, a condition in which the cells of the body are unable to respond appropriately to the insulin.
- Gestational Diabetes: The known causes for gestational diabetes are:
– Being overweight before pregnancy.
– Gaining quick weight during pregnancy.
– High sugar levels but not high enough to be diagnosed in the tests. This condition is called pre-diabetes.
– Past history of gestational diabetes.
– Presence of polycystic ovarian syndrome.
– Age more than 25 years.
– African- American, American
Pathophysiology of Diabetes
Insulin is the prime hormone which plays an important role in maintaining the optimal levels of glucose in the blood. Hence, the condition due to deficiency of insulin or insulin resistance contributes to the occurrence of diabetes mellitus.
Insulin is released in the blood stream by the beta cells of pancreas, which help in sustaining the amount of glucose whenever its amount rises in the blood stream. This insulin is used by about 65% of the cells in the body to obtain energy from glucose. On the contrary, when the blood sugar levels become low then the insulin production is also reduced and a hormone called glucagon is released to increase the levels of glucose in the blood. In case of insulin resistance, either the insulin produced is defective or the effects of the insulin are poor, thus the glucose present in the blood is not utilized by the body leading to impaired functioning of metabolic activities, insufficient protein synthesis and high amount of glucose in blood.
Risk Factors of Diabetes
Some of the known risk factors of diabetes are:
- Family history and genetic inheritance.
- Age factor.
- Over weight
- Low physical activity
- Presence of a heart condition
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Diabetes in prior pregnancy
- Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Still birth
Complications of Diabetes
There are a wide range of complications that can affect the patient suffering from diabetes, which include:
- Vision complications like cataract, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and much more.
- Dermal infections and disorders.
- Foot ulcers and gangrenes which may cause the patient to be amputated.
- Heart condition, strokes.
- Hypertension and mental health issues.
- Increased acid levels in blood.
- Renal failure
- Hearing loss
- Nerve damage
- Erectile dysfunction
- Late healing of wounds.
Diagnosis of Diabetes
Diabetes can be accurately confirmed by doctors by the following tests:
- Physical Examination for Diabetes: It involves analysing the appearance of symptoms and complications in the patient. The doctor also checks the family history for inheritance of the condition.
- Blood Tests to Diagnose Diabetes: There are three kinds of blood tests conducted to check for diabetes. These are:
– FPG Test: It is also known as Fasting Plasma Glucose test in which a blood test is conducted after eight hours of fasting.
– HbA1c Test: It is also known as Glycosylated Haemoglobin test, which uses a marker to measure the average blood sugar levels over the period of past two to three months. It is the most reliable of all the tests.
– OGTT: It is also known as Oral Glucose Tolerance test, which checks the amount of blood sugar before and two hours after the consumption of concentrated glucose solution.
- Urine Tests to Rule out Diabetes: Although not used commonly these days, the urine tests are conducted to check for the presence of ketones as an indicator of diabetes.
Treatment of Diabetes
Diabetes is a severe condition which cannot be treated by self. The disease needs a regular monitoring of the blood sugar levels along with prescribed medication and following of a healthy lifestyle.
- Diabetes Medication: There are a variety of medications available that help in the treatment for diabetes.
- Insulin Administration for Treating Diabetes: Insulin can be taken via injections or an insulin pump. The insulin available is of four types which are based on the time taken for action.
– Rapid acting: It acts within few minutes up till 2-4 hours.
– Regular acting: It acts within 30 minutes and works up to 5-6 hours.
– Intermediate acting: It acts within 2-4 hours and works up to 18 hours.
– Long acting: It acts in 6-10 hours and lasts over 24 hours.
- Drugs maintaining Blood Sugar Levels to Treat Diabetes: These include various types of drugs like:
– Drugs increasing insulin production like Glucotrol, Starlix, Prandin etc.
– Drugs improving insulin utilization like Actos and Avandia.
– Drugs that decrease the absorption of sugar like Precose, Glyset, and Metformin.
– Drugs increasing glucose excretion through kidneys like Invokana, Farxiga etc.
– Synthetic hormone called Pramlintide, which is injected to lower the blood sugar.
- Exercising for Diabetes: It improves the metabolic activity of the body by helping in lowering the blood sugar levels. Exercising in combination with medications helps in treating the condition to a large extent.
- Transplantation to Treat Diabetes: Usually preferred in the case of type 1 diabetes patients due to the presence of severe renal complications.
Lifestyle and Coping with Diabetes
There are certain lifestyles and behavioural modifications that help in coping with the disease. These are:
- Self-identification of being a patient of diabetes.
- Preparedness for prompt treatment in case of hypoglycemic attacks.
- Reduced stress levels.
- Practising good hygiene for teeth.
- Taking good care of foot.
Diabetes is a metabolic condition capable of causing serious health complications if neglected or not treated on time. It can also be fatal if left unattended. Although, majorly the affected population has a genetic inheritance of the condition; a good and healthy lifestyle can often prevent the onset. Interestingly, it can easily be prevented by following some simple lifestyle changes, distressing and taking the prescribed medications. Nevertheless, prevention is always better than cure and one must take every step to prevent this deadly condition from occurring.
Note: This information is only for reference and is not a substitute of a medical care in any form. Kindly consult with a Healthcare Professional for detailed diagnosis, treatment and follow up.