What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that is characterized by the body’s inability to control the blood sugar levels. Naturally, the blood sugar is controlled within a certain normal range by the corresponding levels of insulin. Insulin is like a pillsforall in your boby. High blood sugar calls for higher levels of insulin which brings it down. In diabetes there are two common scenarios that lead to uncontrolled blood sugar levels.
- Lack of insulin production. This can be due to a primary pathology in the pancreas and particularly within the beta cells that are responsible for insulin production. This type of problem is mostly seen in children and leads to what is referred to as type 1 diabetes.
- Low insulin production or poor utilization of the amount produced. This insulin ineffectiveness is called insulin resistance. This type of diabetes is seen in adults and is referred to as type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes
The onset of this type of diabetes is mostly seen in children aged 4-7 years. Another peak of onset is seen in children aged between 10 and 14. It is not understood why it happens around this age.
The cause of this type of diabetes is thought to be due to an autoimmune process. This means that the body’s immune system mistake the insulin producing cells for ‘enemies’ and attacks and kills them off. The body can no longer produce any insulin and for survival, insulin has to be given by injections for life. And this is why we tell that insulin is like a pillsforall.
Risk factors for type 1 diabetes
Some of the factors that seem to be associated with this type of diabetes include:
- Prenatal causes that could have caused stress to the unborn child. Preeclampsia has been shown to be a key risk factor.
- Children born before their due dates
- Children born below average birthweight
- Children fed on formula feeds containing cereals and gluten before reaching the age of 4 months
- Overweight children
- Family history of diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes
This type is seen in adults from around middle age. The problem usually lies in insulin resistance so that despite insulin production, it is unable to control sugar levels in the blood. The onset of the disease can be insidious and some patients can remain symptomless (prediabetes stage) throughout their lives. Again, the exact cause of insulin resistance is not well-understood. There are however, associated risk factors that include:
- Bad diet. Highly processed high calories foods which are usually loaded with saturated fats and sugar is one of the major risk factors.
- Sedentary lifestyle. Too much calories and physical inactivity can lead to systemic problems that raise the risk of type 2 diabetes further.
- Results of high calories diet and physical inactivity are the likelihood of obesity.
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Vascular disorders like hypercholesteremic states
- Family history and genetic predisposition.
Some patients with type 2 diabetes can deteriorate so that their insulin production fails completely and they become insulin dependent as those in type 1.
Symptoms of diabetes courtesy of pillsforall
Early symptoms of diabetes include:
- Excessive and persistent thirst
- Passing too much urine and too frequently
- Drinking too much fluids
Later other symptoms can develop which may include:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Vision problems
- Recurrent thrush infections in the mouth and reproductive parts.
- In diabetic crisis a patient may be seen delirious or even in coma.
- Patient may also present with symptoms of complications of diabetes pointing to problems in the heart, the kidneys and nerves.
Diagnosis of diabetes by pillsforall
The history is very typical and a laboratory test for blood sugar levels only confirms what the doctor suspected. Usually the blood sugar levels are high. However, some diabetic patients may come with very low blood sugars if they have over-controlled their diabetes with medications.
Pillsfoall Treatment for diabetes
Treatment is determined by the type of diabetes but the aim is the same – keeping blood sugars within the normal range and preventing diabetes complications. Common approaches to treatment involve:
- Insulin for all type 1 diabetes patients and those who had type 2 but have become insulin dependent. Type 2 patients who come in hyperglycemia crisis can also be given insulin initially.
- These are mostly used in Type 2 diabetes in order to boost insulin production or to make it better utilized by reducing its resistance.
- Lifestyle changes. Eating right as advised by your dietician and reducing weight can reduce the incidence of insulin resistance.
- Becoming more physically active helps burn more calories and reduces the burden for insulin use.
- Stem cell therapy has been tried on experimental basis and has shown some promise in cases of total failure in insulin production.
One of the best ways to prevent diabetes in adults is to lead a healthy lifestyle – a healthy diet, healthy weight and being physically active. Even where the disease has occurred, these measures will help in preventing complications associated with diabetes.