The startling truth about diabetes is that it is a preventable disease. While the exact cause of diabetes is unknown, it is believed to be a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors. The most important lifestyle factor is obesity. Other risk factors include lack of physical activity, Poor diet, and excess alcohol consumption.
Diabetes is a serious disease that can lead to complications such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. The good news is that diabetes can be controlled with lifestyle changes and medication. If you have diabetes, it is important to work with your healthcare team to create a treatment plan.
There are many myths and misunderstandings about diabetes. In this article, we’ll dispel some of the most common myths and explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment of this serious condition.
First things first, what is diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus commonly known as diabetes refers to multiple conditions that affect how the body use blood sugar (glucose). Glucose is very important to our bodies because it’s important source of energy for the cells that make up our muscles and tissues. Also, our brain’s main source of fuel.
Diabetes is mainly of two types, which are;
Type 1 Diabetes occurs when insulin production is absent because of autoimmune pancreatic beta-cell destruction possibly triggered by an environmental exposure in genetically susceptible people. Destruction progresses over months or years until beta-cell mass decreases to the point that insulin concentrations are no longer adequate to control plasma glucose level. Type 1 generally develops in childhood or adolescence and until recently was most common form diagnosed before age 30.
Type 2 Diabetes occurs when insulin secretion is inadequate because your body has developed resistance to insulin. Hepatic insulin resistance leads to an inability to suppress hepatic glucose production, and peripheral insulin resistance impairs glucose uptake. This combination gives rise to blood sugar levels.
Type 1 diabetes mellitus
The pancreatic cells that produce insulin are affected by type 1 diabetes, a chronic disease. About 1.25 million Americans are thought to suffer from it. Diabetes type 1 patients produce insufficient insulin. a crucial hormone that the pancreas produces. Your cells can store sugar or glucose, fat, and produce energy thanks to insulin.
Causes of type 1 diabetes
Scientist still don’t know the actual cause of type 1 diabetes. The only known fact is that your immune system, which is responsible to fight harmful bacteria and viruses, attacks and destroys your insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Which will lead you to have little or no insulin at all. Now sugar buildups in your bloodstream instead of being transported in your cells.
Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes include the following.
- Increased thirsty
- Frequent urination
- Extreme hunger
- Weight loss
- Fatigue and weakness
- Blurred vision
- Mood changes and irritability
- Bed wetting in children who previously didn’t wet the bed
Type 1 diabetes risk factors include;
- Family history. you are in greater risk if a parent or sibling has type 1 diabetes
- Environmental factors. Sometimes circumstances such as exposure to a viral illness likely play role in type 1 diabetes
- The presence of damaging immune system cells (autoantibodies)
How do I know that I have type 1 diabetes?
A blood test is the most reliable approach to find out if you have type 1 diabetes. A1C tests, random blood sugar tests, and fasting blood sugar tests are a few of the numerous approaches. They are all efficient, and your doctor can advise you on which is best for you.
The C-peptide test, which evaluates the amount of insulin produced when tested concurrently with a fasting glucose, may be ordered by your doctor if you are diagnosed with diabetes in order to look for antibodies that are typical of type 1 diabetes. When a diagnosis of type 1 or type 2 diabetes is unclear, these tests can help.
Treatment of type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes can be treated through lifestyle changes and medical therapy specifically lifelong insulin therapy.
The following lifestyle changes can help you to manage type 1 diabetes
- Healthy eating: This includes increase the intake of fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains foods that are high in nutrition and fiber and low in fat calories. Also cut down saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, and sweets.
- Exercises and physical activities: Sedentary life is the cause of so many diseases. So, everyone has to be physically active. Exercise lowers your blood sugar level by moving sugar into your cells, where it`s used for energy. Exercise also increases your sensitivity to insulin, which means your body needs less insulin to transport sugar to your cells.
Automated insulin administration systems are the most effective type 1 diabetes treatments currently available. This system consists of an insulin pump, a continuous glucose monitor, and a computer algorithm that continuously modifies the insulin dose in response to the data from the continuous glucose monitoring device.
A continuous glucose monitor is advised according to current recommendations. The primary indicator of proper treatment is the percentage of the day that has blood sugar between 70 and 180 milligrams per deciliter. This proportion should be at least 70% each day.
Additionally, fewer than 4% and 5% of time should be spent with blood sugar levels below 70 and beyond 250, respectively. Hemoglobin A1C testing is obviously insufficient to determine whether a medication is effective.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is an impairment in the way the body regulates and uses sugar (glucose) as fuel. This chronic condition results in too much sugar circulating in the bloodstream. Resulting to increasing of blood sugar levels which leads to disorders of circulatory, immune, and nervous systems.
In type 2 diabetes, there are two interrelated problems at work. Your pancreas does not produce enough insulin and cells respond poorly to insulin and take in less sugar.
Causes of type 2 diabetes
The exact cause of type 2 diabetes is unknown, however sedentary life and being obese are contributing factors.
Signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes
Signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes develop very slowly, and you may be diabetic for years without even noticing that.
The following are the signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes
- Increased hunger
- Increased thirsty
- Frequent urination
- Weight loss
- Fatigue and weakness
- Blurred vision
- Numbness in the hands or feet
- Areas of darkened skin, usually in the armpits and neck
- Slow healing sores
- Frequent infections
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:
- Sedentary life. Being inactive pose a greater risk of you developing type 2 diabetes
- Race and ethnicity. Blacks, Hispanic, native American and Asian people are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than white people
- Blood lipid levels. An increased risk is associated with low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and high levels of triglycerides
- Age. Studies shows that most of type 2 diabetic patients are aged above 45
- Prediabetes. This is a condition which your blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes
- Pregnancy-related risks. If you developed gestational diabetes, then you are at a high risk of developing diabetes
- Areas of darkened skin, usually in the armpits and neck. This condition often indicates insulin resistance.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome. This is a condition characterized by irregular menstrual periods, excess hair growth and obesity. This also increases the risk of diabetes
Complications of type 2 diabetes
The following are the complications of type 2 diabetes
- Nerve damage in limbs (neuropathy). High blood sugar can damage nerves, leading to numbness, tingling, burning sensation, pain, or loss of feeling that begins at the tips of the toes or fingers and gradually spreads upwards
- Kidney disease
- Eye damage. Diabetes increases the risk of serious eye disease such as cataracts and glaucoma, and may damage blood vessels of retina which may lead to blindness
- Skin diseases
- Heart and blood vessels disease. Diseases such as heart disease, stroke hypertension and atherosclerosis can be caused by diabetes
- Dementia. Type 2 diabetes increases the risk of Alzheimer`s disease
- Obstructive sleep (sleep apnea)
- Slow healing. Wounds cuts blisters can become serious problem if left untreated. In severe cases it can lead to foot or part of foot to be amputated
- Hearing problems
Prevention of type 2 diabetes
Simple lifestyle hacks can help you prevent type 2 diabetes as follows
- Physical exercise. Do exercises for at least 2 to 3 hours a week
- Healthy eating. Eat foods which are lower in fat and calories and higher in fiber. Also add fruits and vegetables in your meals
- Avoid sitting still for long periods of time
- Losing weight
Treatment of type 2 diabetes
Treatment of type 2 diabetes includes lifestyle changes as mentioned above in prevention measures and medical therapy
Management of type 2 diabetes include:
- Healthy eating
- Regular exercise
- Weight loss
- Diabetes medication
- Blood sugar monitoring
Type 2 diabetes medication
There are several medications to help you with type 2 diabetes such as:
Metformin (fortamet, glumetza)
This is the first medication prescribed for type 2 diabetes. It works by lowering glucose production in the liver and improving your body`s sensitivity to insulin so that your body uses insulin more effectively.
This medicine helps your body secrete more insulin. Example include glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase), glipizide (Glucotrol) and glimepiride (Amaryl).
This medicine stimulates the pancreas to secrete more insulin. They are faster acting than sulfonylureas, and the duration of their effect in the body is shorter. Example include Repaglinide and Nateglinide
This medicine makes the body`s tissues more sensitive to insulin. Example include Rosiglitazone (Avandia) and Pioglitazone (Actos)
This medicine helps to reduce blood sugar levels. Example include Sitagliptin (Januvia), saxagliptin (onglyza) and Linagliptin (Tradjenta)
GLP-1 receptor agonists
These are injectable medications that slow digestion and help lower blood sugar levels. Example include Exenatide (Byetta, Bydureon), liraglutide (Saxenda, Victoza) and semaglutide (Rybelsus, Ozempic)
These drugs may reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in people with a higher risk of those conditions. Example include Canagliflozin (Invokana), Dapagliflozin (Farxiga) and Empagliflozin (Jardiance).
Some type 2 diabetics require insulin therapy. Nowadays, if blood sugar targets aren’t achieved with lifestyle changes and other drugs, insulin therapy may be administered sooner rather than later.
Diabetes is one of the most serious health conditions plaguing our nation. Because it can be so devastating, it is crucial that more people learn about diabetes and its causes, symptoms, and treatment options. The more we know about this debilitating condition, the better we’ll be able to educate ourselves, our family members, and our communities on how to reduce risk factors as much as possible.
Knowledge is key—once you learn more about diabetes, you’ll be able to identify risk factors early on, take preventative measures before they escalate into a full-blown condition, and communicate with the people in your life who may also be dealing with it.
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