Diabetes is a chronic health condition that occurs when your blood glucose, also known as blood sugar, elevates beyond normal. Blood glucose is the major source of energy and is obtained from the food you eat. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose from food get into your cells and be used as energy. Sometimes your body doesn’t make enough insulin—or in certain cases, not any at all. At times, the body is unable to process insulin or doesn’t use insulin well. Because of this, glucose then stays in your blood and doesn’t reach your cells leading to a build up of glucose in the bloodstream.
“ Diabetes is a common metabolic disease in which the proper regulation of blood sugar does not happen because of too much sugar in cells, lack of exercise, etc.”
- Prof. Dr. Robert Hess (American Diabetes Association)
Other health and medical institutions have also referred to diabetes as a condition and not a disease.
“Diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy”
- Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause health problems. Although diabetes has no cure yet, losing weight, eating healthy food, taking medicines as needed, getting diabetes self-management education and support, and keeping health care appointments can really help in bringing it under control, while greatly reducing the impact of diabetes on your life .
What are the different types of diabetes?
The most common types of diabetes are Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational diabetes.
- Type 1 diabetes - In Type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin. The immune system attacks and destroys the cells in your pancreas that make insulin. Type 1 diabetes is often diagnosed i n children and young adults, although it can appear later at any age as well. For people with type 1 diabetes taking insulin shots everyday is mandatory.
- Type 2 diabetes - In Type 2 diabetes, your body does not use insulin well. You can develop type 2 diabetes at any age, even during childhood. However, this type of diabetes often occurs most often in middle-aged and older people. Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes.
- Gestational diabetes - Gestational Diabetes develops in some women when they are pregnant. Most of the time, this type of diabetes usually goes away after the baby is born. However, if you’ve had gestational diabetes once, you have a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Sometimes diabetes diagnosed during early pregnancy is actually type 2 diabetes. As it is with all forms of diabetes, diet and exercise can help you gain the upper hand. With gestational diabetes, a balanced low GI diet is integral to your success. Your doctor can help you develop a meal plan that suits your body type, helping you identify the best foods and quick meal ideas that can help you stay healthy and strong.
- Other types of diabetes - Less common types include monogenic diabetes , which is an inherited form of diabetes, and cystic fibrosis and related diabetes.
Who is more likely to develop type 2 diabetes?
You are naturally more prone to develop type 2 diabetes if you are age 45 or older, have a family history of diabetes, or are overweight. However, recent statistics have also shown a steady rise of this condition in people who are below the age of 30 as well, making this condition not that rare or age specific anymore. Physical inactivity, race, and certain health problems such as high blood pressure also affect your chance of developing type 2 diabetes. You are also more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you have had pre diabetes or gestational diabetes when you were pregnant.
What health problems can people with diabetes develop?
Over time, high blood glucose leads to many health problems such as:
- Cardiovascular Heart Disease (CVD)
- Kidney disease (nephropathy)
- Eye problems, including Glaucoma, cataract and poor vision.
- Dental disease such as gingivitis and a higher risk of cavities.
- Nerve damage
- Foot problems like ulcers, corns, fungal infections, etc.
The severity of these complications varies from type to type. In case a proper lifestyle is not followed, these conditions can worsen over time. In our next blog, we shall be explaining the various health issues that are directly and indirectly linked to diabetes and how they can be effectively managed.