Most foods are converted into glucose – a type of sugar, during digestion. Glucose is a simple sugar responsible for fueling most activities in the body. Once food is converted into glucose in the body, it goes into the bloodstream and is circulated round the body. It then goes into the cells in the body before it is used as energy. Insulin – a hormone produced in the pancreas is required for the passage of the glucose into the bloodstream. Diabetes inhibits the body’s ability to produce and utilize insulin effectively in the body.
Types of Diabetes
Three main types of diabetes exist: Type 1, Type 2, and gestational diabetes. All three types of diabetes are typically associated with different circumstances.
1. Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes involves the production of insulin by the pancreas. It is sometimes referred to as juvenile onset diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. It is mostly diagnosed in people between 7 and 12 years, but can occur at any age. About 10% of people suffering from diabetes have Type 1. This type of diabetes mostly occurs due to an auto-immune reaction. Auto-immune reactions occur when the body’s immune system attacks the healthy cells and tissues in the body. In Type 1 diabetes, the body is assumed to destroy the special beta cells in the pancreas that are responsible for the production of insulin.
2. Type 2 Diabetes
In the Type 2 diabetes, the body still manufactures insulin, though it may not be able to produce the sufficient amount needed by the body. This type of diabetes is often referred to as adult onset diabetes or non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. This type of diabetes mostly occurs in people who are above 40 years of age.
3. Gestational Diabetes
This type of diabetes is not very common. It occurs during pregnancy. Approximately 2-4% of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. The condition disappears after pregnancy. Women who have suffered this type of diabetes are at higher risks of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life. Women who are genetically predisposed to have diabetes experience hormonal changes during pregnancy.
Causes of Diabetes
- Medications: Certain medications have been found to increase the chances of developing diabetes by increasing the level of insulin in the body. Such medications include prednisone and some diuretics.
- Medical conditions: Some medical conditions can cause diabetes. Some of these conditions include pancreas diseases and some hormonal disorders like Cushing’s syndrome.
- Surgeries sand trauma: Injuring your pancreas or having your pancreas removed can cause diabetes, since the pancreas is the organ responsible for the production of insulin – which regulates the quantity of glucose in your body.
- Genetic disorders: Some genetic disorders can cause diabetes; some of these disorders include Down’s syndrome, Turner’s syndrome and certain muscular dystrophies.
Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes
Symptoms associated with Type 1 diabetes can come quite suddenly, and can be very severe when they occur. The symptoms of Type 2 diabetes however manifest very gradually. They can be so gradual that they may not be noticed. The body tries to rid itself of excess glucose through the urine. This increases the production of urine and leads to cases of dehydration. The cells in the body are at the same time deprived of the glucose energy they need for important activities. These factors lead to the following common symptoms:
- Weight loss
- Excessive thirst
- Excessive urination
- Yeast infections
- Blurry vision
- Skin wounds and infections that take long time to heal up
- Tingling and numbness in the chest.
Diagnosis of Diabetes
It is important to see a doctor the moment diabetes is suspected. This is to ensure accurate diagnosis of the condition. Early diagnosis and treatment often help prevent all complications that are associated with diabetes. Certain tests are used to measure the level of glucose in the blood. Some of these tests include:
- Fasting blood glucose test: A sample of the patient’s blood is taken to measure the level of glucose in the patient’s body after fasting for some hours. This is mostly carried out during morning hours, before breakfast.
- Random blood glucose test: In this test, a sample of the patient’s blood is taken to determine the glucose levels. This test pays no attention to fasting and time of eating. The medically acceptable range for the glucose levels in the blood is 4.0-8.0mmol/L.
- HBA1c test: An individual’s average blood glucose levels over a period of time is tested using a blood test known as the hemoglobin A1c.
Treatment of Diabetes
Diabetes cannot be cured, but it can be adequately controlled. The major aim of treating diabetes is to maintain a healthy glucose level in the blood. Treatment often involves striking a balance between diet, exercise and medications. Some areas of treatment techniques pay close attention to:
- Diet: It is always important to avoid foods that contain refined sugars. Foods such as jam, chocolate, soft drinks, cakes, sweet biscuits, fruit juices, and pastries are not good for diabetic patients.
- Exercise: Exercising regularly is very vital when it comes to maintaining a healthy blood glucose level. Regular and moderate exercises are recommended, since excessive exercises can make the glucose level drop.
- Change in lifestyle: Certain habits can increase your risk of developing diabetes. Factors such as high stress levels, excessive smoking and drinking can increase the risks.
- Drugs: People suffering from Type 2 diabetes may always have difficulties controlling the level of glucose in their blood through good diets, regular exercises, and change in lifestyles without some medical help. There are three different types of medications used for treating diabetes: they are medications for increasing insulin production; medications that stop insulin resistance; and medications that stop carbohydrate absorption from the bowels.
- Insulin: Insulin injections are required in people with Type 1 diabetes and some with Type 2 diabetes. Different types of insulin injections can be found in the market today; some are short-acting, which means they get absorbed very quickly and works within a short-term; while some are absorbed quite slowly and work long-term.