Diabetes is basically a disorder of metabolism, that is, the way our bodies utilize digested food for growth and energy. It is a chronic condition related with oddly high levels of sugar (technically, glucose) in the blood. Insulin which is produced by the pancreas decreases blood glucose. The absence or at times the insufficient production of insulin, or rather an inability of the body to properly use insulin causes diabetes. Diabetes is not just one but a number of diseases that involve problems with the hormone insulin. Usually, the pancreas (the organ behind your stomach) produces insulin to help your body use and store all the sugar and fat from the food you consume. Diabetes can befall when your pancreas releases very little or no insulin, or when your body does not respond properly to insulin. As yet, there is no proper cure for this disease. People who suffer from diabetes need to manage and keep in check their disease to stay healthy. In people who are diagnosed with diabetes, the absence of, insufficient production of or lack of response to insulin results in hyperglycemia. Diabetes is a chronic medical condition, which means that although it can be kept in check and controlled but it lasts a lifetime.
There are three main types of diabetes - type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. Former names for the first two conditions were insulin-dependent and non-insulin-dependent diabetes (or juvenile onset and adult onset diabetes).
How can you predict if you have diabetes? Usually the early symptoms start with higher than the normal levels of glucose (a kind of sugar) in your blood. Some of the silent warning signs can be so mild that you won't notice them. These signs turn up especially in the case of type 2 diabetes. Many people don't find out they have it till the time they get affected with problems from long- term damage caused by the disease.
With type 1 diabetes (i.e insulin dependent) the symptoms usually show quickly, in a short span of few days or a few weeks. They are often highly severe, too.
Both types of diabetes have quite a lot of same warning signs.
The food that you eat is converted by your body into glucose which the cells utilize for energy. But these cells require insulin to bring the glucose in.
If your body does not produce enough or any insulin; or if the cells resist the insulin which is produced by your body, the glucose cannot get into them and in turn, you have no (or low) energy. This could make you hungrier and more tired than usual.
An average person generally has to pee between four to seven times in a day, but people who suffer with diabetes tend to go a lot more times than the usual. This is because your body normally reabsorbs glucose as it passes through the kidneys, but when due to the disease your blood sugar level is pushed up, your body is not able to bring it all back in. Your body will try to get rid of the excess by producing more urine, and for that it'll need more fluids.
For this reason, you will feel more thirsty than usual often. Your body would produce a lot more pee, too. Because you're peeing so much, you could get very thirsty - it's simple, when you drink more, you'd also pee more.
Water (or fluids) essentially provide your body with moisture. Now, if you're diabetic your body would be using fluids to generate pee and therefore there'd be less moisture for other things. You can get dehydrated, and your mouth may feel dry because of this reason. We all know that dry skin can make you itchy.
The continuously changing levels of fluids in your body can make the lenses in your eyes swell up and change the existing shape and lose their ability to focus. Therefore your vision may get affected as a consequence of this disease.
These symptoms tend to show up after a point when your glucose levels have been high for a long period of time.
This symptom can show up in both men and women with diabetes. Yeast feeds on glucose - a diabetic person tends to have plenty of that, and having a constant supply of it makes yeast thrive. Such infections can grow in any warm and moist fold of the skin. It can cultivate between the fingers and toes, or under the breasts, even in or around sex organs.
This is also a common consequence of this disease. Over time, high blood sugar levels tend to affect your blood flow and cause nerve damage that would make it hard for your body to heal wounds quickly and therefore takes a long time to heal even a small cut (in cases of severe diabetes).
Along with this you may feel a kind of numbness or pain in your feet (or/and legs). This is another result of nerve damage.
By now we know that a healthy person's pancreas (the organ behind your stomach) issues insulin to help the body store and utilize the sugar from the food you consume. Diabetes happens when one of the following occurs if the pancreas is not able to produce any insulin- when the pancreas produces very little or no insulin, the body does not respond appropriately to the insulin that is being produced, a condition which is known as "insulin resistance."
People with type 1 diabetes do not produce insulin, in other words the production of this substance stops for some reason, whereas, people with type 2 diabetes produce insulin; however, this insulin which their pancreas secretes is either not sufficient or the body is unable to identify the insulin and use it appropriately (i.e insulin resistance).
When the level of insulin required is not enough or the insulin is not employed as it should be, the glucose (sugar) cannot get into your body's cells and hence, builds up in the bloodstream as a result. When glucose starts building up in the blood despite of going into cells, it starts causing damage in several areas of the body. Along with that, since cells do not get the proper glucose they need, they cannot function properly.
If you have type 2 diabetes then here are a couple of risk factors that you could be susceptible to and should be cautious of, these are - high blood fat (or triglyceride) levels, high blood pressure, gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds, high alcohol intake, high-fat and carbohydrate diet, sedentary lifestyle, being overweight or obesity and aging - increasing age is a noteworthy risk factor for type 2 diabetes. The risk of developing type 2 diabetes starts to rise substantially at about the age of age 45, and rises considerably after the age of 65.
If your body cannot receive energy from the food hat you consume, it will automatically start burning muscle and fat for energy instead, that's just how the body works. You could lose weight even when you haven't changed your eating habits.
When your body stops receiving energy and resorts to burning fat, it creates 'ketones.'These can build up in your blood to high levels and cause a possibly life- threatening condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis. Ketones can make you feel sick to your stomach.
The causes of low blood sugar include - taking too much insulin, exercising more than usual without eating enough food, delaying (or skipping) a meal or snack, drinking too much alcohol (especially on an empty stomach), taking medicines that can lower blood sugar, such as large amounts of aspirin (and medicines for mental disorders), starting your menstrual period, because hormonal changes can affect how well the insulin works.
The following reasons can cause your blood sugar levels to rise, these are - eating more food than usual; not getting enough insulin; stress and falling ill (such as with severe flu), having an infection; especially if you aren't drinking or eating enough (basically, undisciplined food habits); taking medicines that can raise blood sugar levels, such as those for sleep; the dawn phenomenon or the Somogyi effect, which can cause early-morning high blood sugar ((usually between 2 a.m. & 8 a.m.); adolescence, because of hormone changes and rapid growth; and pregnancy.
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that develops only during pregnancy. It is a relatively common complication associated with pregnancy, affecting around 4% of all pregnant women.
You may have a risk of developing gestational diabetes due to these reasons - if you're obese when you become pregnant; have high blood pressure or other medical complications; have given birth to a baby that was stillborn or suffering from certain birth defects; have had gestational diabetes in previous pregnancies; have given birth to a large (i.e heavier than 9 pounds) baby before; have a family history of diabetes; are older than 30.
If left undiagnosed or untreated, gestational diabetes may cause serious complications for your infant. For instance, the mothers who are not treated for this type of diabetes may give birth to babies that may grow large (a condition known as macrosomia), they may also face the risk of problems during delivery, such as damages to the baby's arms, shoulders and nerves in these areas.
Having a large (or oversized) baby can also increase your risk for requiring a cesarean section (better known as c- section) or other support during delivery (such as a forceps or vacuum delivery). Your baby could also get a sudden drop in blood sugar after birth which might require treatment with a sugar solution. Your infant may also have a higher risk of developing jaundice and troubles with breathing.
You can take a breather and not worry too much. The chances of birth defects in newborns whose mothers have gestational diabetes is pretty low because most pregnant women tend to develop gestational diabetes after the 20th week of their pregnancy - by this time the fetus has already developed fully. The risk of birth defects rises only if you had undiagnosed diabetes pre- pregnancy or if you have outrageously high blood sugar levels during the first six to eight weeks of the pregnancy.
If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, then don't worry, your baby doesn't have an increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes during childhood. Nevertheless, your child would be more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life and could also be overweight throughout life.
Generally, most women's blood sugar levels return to normal after they deliver the baby. Having said that, once you've had gestational diabetes, you are susceptible to developing gestational diabetes again during later pregnancies. You'd also have an increased risk of developing diabetes later in life. Women who develop gestational diabetes during their pregnancy have a 50% chance of developing diabetes within 10 to 20 years of delivery.
Gestational diabetes is the consequence of changes that take place in all women during pregnancy. Increased levels of certain hormones (including estrogen, cortisol, and human placental lactogen) can hinder your body's ability to manage blood sugar properly. This condition, as discussed above, is called 'insulin resistance.' Usually the organ that produces insulin (your pancreas) is able to compensate for insulin resistance by increasing the insulin production (to about three times the normal amount). If your pancreas cannot suitably enhance insulin production to recover the effect of the increased hormones or hormonal imbalance, your blood sugar levels will rise and cause gestational diabetes.
Hi! I’m Gunjan, a self-proclaimed tea fanatic and intrigued with alternative ways to lead a healthy life. I firmly believe that we should take care of our bodies because it’s the only place we live in.