Living with Diabetes

In the simplest terms, Diabetes can be defined as a number of diseases with a variety of causes. Diabetic patients have high blood sugar or hyperglycemia. With the help of the hormone called Insulin which is made in an organ called Pancreas located behind the stomach, cells throughout the body absorb glucose obtained from breaking down sugar and starches found in many foods, and then use it as energy. And if the body is unable to use insulin efficiently or even make insulin, then the person is said to be suffering from diabetes.

If not enough insulin is produced or the body doesn’t utilize the insulin already present in the bloodstream, glucose levels build up instead of being consumed by the cells in the body, leading to diabetes or prediabetes. In prediabetes, the average blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not so high as to be categorized as diabetes, whereas in diabetes, the body’s cells are malnourished even with high glucose levels.

Over long periods of time, high blood sugar can damage nerves and blood vessels, leading to development of conditions such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, dental disease, and even amputations. In some cases complications may lead to susceptibility to other diseases, loss of mobility with aging, depression, and pregnancy problems

Causes:

Even with today’s advancements in medicine and technology it is not clear as to how the process that causes diabetes starts, but in most cases it is believed that genes along with environmental factors cause diabetes.

There are two main types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. A person may have both types of diabetes, they are not exclusive. Other types of diabetes are caused by defects in specific genes, diseases of the pancreas, certain drugs or chemicals, infections, and other conditions.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. Meaning the body’s own “defense system” so to speak, which usually protects the body from infectious bacteria’s and viruses and other harmful substances, starts attacking body’s own cells, or in the case of Type 1 Diabetes, insulin producing Beta cells.

Although this process of beta cell elimination may last several years, but its symptoms usually develop over a comparatively short period of time.

Type 1 diabetes often occurs in children and young adults, though it can appear at any age as well.

Type 2 diabetes is more common of the two and is caused by a combination of factors including resistance of insulin by body cells. Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes can be subtle and patient can go on for years without ever being diagnosed. Obese, overweight and older people are more prone to this type 2 diabetes.

Inactivity and obesity are the factors that make chances of a person getting Type 2 diabetes much more probable.

A third type is Gestational diabetes which develops during pregnancy.

Treatment:

Diabetic treatment is more of a controlled lifestyle with medications rather than a cure. Treatment for both types of diabetes varies patient to patient but usually, they follow the following routines.

Generally Type 1 diabetic patients require daily injections, the amount of which depends on the severity of the disease, physical activity and a restricted diet.

Type 2 patients treatment includes diet control, exercise, blood glucose testing, and oral medication and/or insulin in some cases as well. Around 40% of people with type 2 diabetes require routinely insulin shots.

For type 1 diabetes, there is another solution, however unorthodox it may be. It is called islet Transplants. It is a procedure which is performed twice a week on the patient, if they satisfy the criteria. People with weight problems (over 85kg), with poor kidney function and those that need more than 50 units per day for 70kg person for example are not suitable for this procedure.

In islet transplants, islet cells from the pancreas of a deceased donor are implanted in the patient. This procedure carries minimal risk and is a comparatively small.

Prevention:

Type 2 diabetes can usually be prevented or at the very least, its risk can be lowered with a healthy and active lifestyle. For women it includes healthy weight (body mass index less than 25), a healthy diet, 30 minutes of regular exercise, no smoking, and having about three alcoholic drinks per week.

For men most of the same things carry over, with a cut back on foods with a high calorie count and increased amount of physical activity being the main points being stressed upon by doctors.

Symptoms:

Usually if detected in early stages, risk of getting diabetes can be lowered significantly. However sometimes Type 2 diabetes symptoms are so mild that they go unnoticed until it’s too late.

Common symptoms of diabetes are excessive urination, feeling thirsty and hungry even after eating, extreme fatigue, lack of concentration, blurry vision, slow healing wounds, weight loss even with increase food intake (Type 1) and Tingling, pain or numbness in the hands or feet (Type 2).

Gestational diabetes often shows no symptoms, which is at-risk women should be tested at the appropriate times.

Learn more about diabetes from wikipedia