Know Your Diabetes

Lifestyle diseases are a common phenomena, where in people suffer from certain types of diseases purely on the basis of the kind of lives they lead. This is found more commonly in developed regions of any nation, where people have a more sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits, greater stress levels, and habits such as smoking and consumption of alcohol.  The most common lifestyle diseases include heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, stroke, osteoporosis and diabetes. The best part about lifestyle diseases is that they can be easily prevented by making a few positive changes in one’s way of life. Diabetes is one of the most common lifestyle diseases and currently affects close to 350 million people worldwide. However, despite such a staggeringly huge number, how much do we actually know about this disease? Let’s find out.

What do you know about Diabetes?

Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar in our body. Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Hyperglycaemia is a condition involving raised blood sugar, which is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes. Over time, it leads to serious damage to many of the body’s systems, especially the nerves and blood vessels.




10 facts about Diabetes

According to the World Health Organisation-

About 347 million people worldwide have diabetes.

  1. Diabetes is predicted to become the 7th leading cause of death in the world by the year 2030.
  2. There are two major forms of diabetes- Type 1 diabetes is characterized by a lack of insulin production and type 2 diabetes results from the body’s ineffective use of insulin.
  3. A third type of diabetes is gestational diabetes. This type is characterized by hyperglycaemia, or raised blood sugar.
  4. Type 2 diabetes is much more common than type 1 diabetes.
  5. Cardiovascular disease is responsible for between 50% and 80% of deaths in people with diabetes.
  6. In 2012 diabetes was the direct cause of 1.5 million deaths.
  7. 80% of diabetes deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
  8. Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness, amputation and kidney failure.
  9. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented; Type 1 cannot.

Causes of Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes

  1. Genetic Susceptibility
  2. Autoimmune Destruction of Beta Cells- White blood cells called T cells attack and destroy beta cells
  3. Environmental Factors- E.g.- Foods, viruses and toxins
  4. Viruses and infections
  5. Infant feeding practices

Type 2 Diabetes

Genetic Susceptibility

  1. Obesity and Physical Inactivity
  2. Insulin Resistance
  3. Abnormal Glucose production by the liver which contributes to high blood glucose levels
  4. Beta cell dysfunction
  5. Increasing age
  6. Bad diet
  7. Metabolic Syndrome which is characterized by
    • higher than normal blood glucose levels
    • increased waist size due to excess abdominal fat
    • high blood pressure
    • abnormal levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood

Gestational Diabetes

Insulin resistance and beta cell dysfunction

  1. Family History
  2. Future risk of Type 2 Diabetes

The Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes

Common symptoms of Diabetes include-

Frequent urination

  1. Excessive thirst
  2. Increased hunger
  3. Weight loss
  4. Tiredness
  5. Lack of interest and concentration
  6. A tingling sensation or numbness in the hands or feet
  7. Blurred vision
  8. Frequent infections
  9. Slow-healing wounds
  10. Vomiting and stomach pain (often mistaken as the flu)

Type 1 diabetes usually develops suddenly and dramatically while the symptoms can often be mild or absent in people with type 2 diabetes, making this type of diabetes hard to detect.

Prevention of Diabetes

Unfortunately, Type 1 Diabetes cannot be prevented. However, through some simple and positive advancement in the daily life of a person can go a long way in preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes.

To help prevent type 2 diabetes, people should:

  • achieve and maintain healthy body weight;
  • be physically active – at least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity activity on most days. More activity is required for weight control;
  • eat a healthy diet of between 3 and 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day and reduce sugar and saturated fats intake;
  • avoid tobacco use – smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Diagnosis and Management of Diabetes

Diabetes is an incurable disease and will affect the person from its onset till the person’s death. However, through timely diagnosis and a management plan, the patient can lead an absolutely normal life till the very end.

  1. Insulin check- If you have Type 1 and follow a healthy eating plan, do adequate exercise, and take insulin, you can lead a normal life
  2. Balance insulin intake with food and lifestyle- The quantity of insulin intake must be closely linked to how much food you consume, as well as when you eat. Your daily activities will also have a bearing on when and how much insulin you take.
  3. Checking your blood glucose levels- A person with diabetes has to have his/her blood glucose levels checked periodically. There is a blood test called the A1C which tells you what your average blood glucose levels were over a two-to-three month period. Type 2 patients need to eat healthily, be physically active, and test their blood glucose. They may also need to take oral medication, and/or insulin to control blood glucose levels.
  4. Prevent developing cardiovascular disease- As the risk of cardiovascular disease is much higher for a diabetic, it is crucial that blood pressure and cholesterol levels are monitored regularly. Healthy eating, doing exercise, keeping your weight down will all contribute towards good cardiovascular health – some patients will need oral medication for this.
  5. Stop smoking- As smoking might have a serious effect on the cardiovascular health the patient should stop smoking.
  6. A health care provider- A health care professional (HCP) will help the patient learn how to manage his/her diabetes. The HCP will also monitor the diabetes control. It is important that you know what to do and that a professional is helping and monitoring the management of your diabetes.
  7. High and low blood glucose- The patient will need to make sure his/her blood glucose levels do not fluctuate too much.

With a little awareness and pro-activity, the signs and symptoms of Diabetes can easily be recognised and managed. A regular blood test regime and a healthy lifestyle can do a lot in this matter. So stay fit, combat Diabetes!