What is diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus, commonly called the sugar diabetes, is a metabolic disorder characterized by hyperglycemia (surplus amount of glucose in the bloodstream), glycosuria (excess sugar in urine), ketonuria (excess amount of ketones in urine) and ketonemia (abnormal presence of ketones in the blood). The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes three main forms of diabetes: type 1, type 2 and gestational. All forms have similar signs, symptoms and consequences, but different immediate causes. The ultimate cause of all of them is the inability of the pancreatic beta cells to produce sufficient insulin to prevent hyperglycemia.
The following criteria are used to diagnose diabetes:
- Blood sugar level of more than 126mg/dl
- HbA1c of more than 6.5 mg/dl
- Two-hour OGTT test value of more than 200 mg/dl
- Random blood sugar/RBS of more than 200mg/dl
What is type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is insulin-independent diabetes. It tends to affect older people. The peak of its onset is usually above the age of 50 years. So, it is commonly called maturity onset diabetes or senile diabetes. It usually results from tissue-wide insulin resistance. In this case, insulin production is normal or even increased.
What are the causes type 2 diabetes?
- Genetics: Most of the times, diabetes is caused by hereditary factors. It runs in families. But, each and every family member may not be affected though they carry high risk.
Unhealthy lifestyle: Unhealthy lifestyle includes unhealthy eating habits, sedentary lifestyle, stress etc.
- Unhealthy eating habits: Constantly eating unhealthy foods including fried foods such as french fries, high-calorie foods such as sweets, and processed foods with preservatives and chemicals can cause diabetes.
- Sedentary lifestyle: A sedentary lifestyle including lack of physical work, lack of physical activities and lack of exercise can increase your chances of developing diabetes.
- Overweight: Weighing more than normal is another factor that increases the chances of diabetes type 2.
- Stress: Stress takes havoc on your system, therefore increasing your risk of any disease including diabetes.
Can you prevent type 2 diabetes?
Though people with diabetes running in the family are genetically prone, maintaining a healthy weight and practicing a healthy lifestyle should help you delay or prevent type 2.
What are the signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes?
- Polyuria: Polyuria is urinating very often. In diabetes, there is hyperglycaemia/excess blood sugar. When sugar is not absorbed by the body and stays in bloodstream, it has to find a way out. The body excretes such excess sugar by way of urine. You urinate often to get rid of excess sugar. This also leads to dehydration/loss of water. You feel fatigue/excessive tiredness which is one of the signs of diabetes.
- Polydipsia: You have an increased urge to drink water to replenish lost fluids.
- Polyphagia: As glucose is not absorbed by your body cells, you tend to feel starved and want to eat more.
- Weight loss: Unintentional weight loss is another sign of diabetes. As glucose is not being absorbed by your body, your body starves. It uses stored fat as a source of energy. As your body breaks down fat, you shed pounds. Dehydration also contributes to weight loss.
What are the complications of untreated diabetes?
Damage to vital organs:
- Excess blood sugar damages blood vessels. In addition to your body not processing insulin, the liver contributes to excess blood sugar by releasing stored glucose when it thinks your body needs more.
- Diabetes facilitates atherosclerosis, which is a process wherein blood vessels become hard and narrow.
- Diabetes increases your blood pressure.
- When your body breaks down stored fat, it produces by-products called ketones. The combination of ketones, glucose and dehydration is called diabetic ketoacidosis. It can be life-threatening if not treated right away.
Excess blood sugar also increases the chances of blood clots in the blood vessels. A clot may block blood vessels completely and damage vital organs such as heart, kidneys and eyes. Such blockage also increases the chances of heart failure and death.
Diabetes needs to be treated early to prevent permanent damage to your organs.
Treatment for type 2 diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes can be treated well with healthy lifestyle modifications and medications.
1. Maintain a healthy diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains will help you. But mind the portion size and count calories. Good news is a latest research says, by restricting the amount of calories you consume and by following a healthy diet you can even reverse diabetes type 2.
- What to eat and what not to: Avoid sugar, grains, processed food and alcohol from your menu. Include fibre, omega3s, chromium, healthy oils (coconut, red palm, etc), foods with a low glycemic index, and cinnamon in your daily menu.
2. Lose weight: Diabetes improves with weight loss. Losing up to seven percent of your weight brings great improvements in your blood sugar level/BSL. If you want to lose weight, the amount of calories you burn should be higher than the amount of calories you consume. Losing weight improves Insulin sensitivity of your body.
3. Exercise: Exercise is important for everyone especially for diabetics. Regular exercises such as walking and jogging improve insulin sensitivity, help you shed pounds and also tame stress by refreshing you. Group up with like-minded people to help you stick to your exercise routine. Try to be more active physically. You can do what you enjoy, for instance gardening, yoga or dancing as long as you are physically active.
4. Medications: Your doctor will prescribe oral medications to control your blood sugar levels. He or she may also prescribe insulin if needed.
5. Never miss your doctor appointments: You will have to check your blood sugar levels often to know if you are improving and to prevent complications. Follow-up is very important to improve your sugar levels, to reduce the dosage of your medicines, prevent complications and to live healthier and longer. A combination of healthy eating, exercise and medication can control the blood sugar at stable levels.
The earlier you begin your healthy lifestyle modifications, the faster and surer your results will be.