What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a group of metabolic diseases where a person has excess blood sugar, either because a person’s body stops producing insulin (Type 1) or is unable to respond to insulin (Type 2). It’s important to understand the cause and recognise the symptoms of diabetes because if a person has too much blood sugar, a condition called as hyperglycemia, it could lead to a series of complications. Hyperglycemia can damage the blood vessels that lead to vital organs and increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney, vision and nerve problems which can prove to be fatal.

Symptoms of diabetes:

  • Fatigue
  • Hunger pangs
  • Thirst
  • Slowly healing wounds
  • Frequent urination
  • Blurry eyesight
  • Dry or itchy skin

Diabetes, often known as the ‘silent’ killer, is a loud wake up call today. India alone is home to 72 million diabetics and one of the major reasons for the rapid increase in these numbers is attributed to the change in lifestyle.

Ideally, the symptoms of both Type 1 & Type 2 diabetes are the same but this is where the similarities end.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes occurs when a person’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas producing insulin. Without insulin, the cells stop absorbing sugar which is needed for the body to produce energy.

Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age. Most Type 1 cases are diagnosed between 10 – 14 years of age. Less than 10% of the cases diagnosed are people over 40 years of age.

While genetics do play a role, the exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown. However, it is linked to lifestyle factors that can be modified, it cannot be prevented and there is no cure.

Type 2 Diabetes

In Type 2 diabetes the body produces insulin, unlike type 1 but not enough to meet their body’s needs. This happens because the cells of the body become insulin resistant. Therefore, higher levels of insulin are needed for the body making the pancreas work harder. Over time, the pancreas can’t keep up and is unable to make enough insulin when blood sugar levels increase, for instance after a meal. In such a situation, it would be diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes.

Even Type 2 diabetes can occur at any age. However, people above 45 years of age are at a greater risk as they exercise less, lose muscle mass and tend to gain weight. Those with a family history of Type 2 diabetes, along with being overweight and inactive can really increase the chances of developing the disease.

Even though genetics may play a big role in developing Type 2 diabetes, if you take good care of your health and wellness, chances are you can avoid it.

How To Manage Type 1 & Type 2 Diabetes

The first step is to keep a check on your blood sugar levels, A blood sugar test once a year would do it. Medication would help, but only if accompanied by a good diet and exercise routine.

A common misconception is that if you eat less you can lower blood sugar levels. What we don’t realize is that the body goes ahead and makes sugar by itself. If diagnosed with diabetes, it’s always better to stick to small meals more frequently than a large meal at a go. Your meals should be high in protein, fiber and foods that have a low glycemic index which means food that digests slowly so that sugar is released at a slower and measured pace into the bloodstream.

Being diagnosed with diabetes is something that can be brought under control with a few lifestyle changes. So, if you’re someone who has diabetes, don’t worry. Start eating better and incorporate some good activity into your life and you will definitely feel much better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *