What is diabetes?
Diabetes is characterized as a chronic disease. This disease is developing in the case if the pancreatic gland does not produce enough insulin. The second condition is when the body cannot effectively utilize the insulin it produces.
Insulin belongs to a hormone that monitors and controls blood sugar levels. Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) results in uncontrolled diabetes. It leads to serious damage to body systems, especially the nervous system and blood vessels. There are 3 types of diabetes:
- In type 1 diabetes (formerly known as insulin-dependent, juvenile or childhood) is characterized by insufficient insulin production. It requires daily insulin administration. The cause of this type is unknown, so it cannot be prevented at present. Symptoms include excessive urination (polyuria), thirst (polydipsia), constant hunger, weight loss, changes in vision, and fatigue. These symptoms may appear suddenly.
- Type 2 diabetes (formerly referred to as non-insulin dependent or adult) develops as a result of ineffective insulin use. Most patients suffer from type 2 diabetes, which is largely a result of being overweight and physically inactive. Symptoms may be common with those of type 1 diabetes but are often less expressed. As a result, the disease can be established after several years after its onset. Until recently, this type of diabetes was established only in adults, but currently, it affects children.
- Gestational diabetes is hyperglycemia. It develops or is first detected during pregnancy. Women with this form of diabetes also have an increased risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth. They also have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes later in life. Gestational diabetes is most often diagnosed during prenatal screening, and not based on reported symptoms.
There are several reasons for this disease to develop. The most common in the 1 type is an autoimmune process in the body. During this stage, antibodies are produced against pancreatic cells responsible for insulin production. The most common cause of this is genetics. Children of diabetic parents need to undergo medical screenings regularly. If both parents are sick with diabetes, then the risk of developing a child’s diabetes reaches 60%.
With age, the risk of acquiring type 1 diabetes decreases, most often teenagers suffer from it. The trigger for the disease is stress, for example, during exams. At the same time, the body’s need for glucose on the background of increased mental stress increases. Pupils and students eat irregularly, they choose food that is of little use, like chocolate and cola. Therefore, it is so important to monitor what your child eats and to protect him from overloading.
The main cause of type 2 diabetes is overweight or obesity. It occurs in overweight middle-aged people. Adipose tissue receptors have low sensitivity to insulin, so if there is a lot of it in the body, then the amount of glucose in the blood exceeds the norm.
Signs of diabetes are:
- skin inflammation;
- itching of the skin and mucous membranes, including in the genital area;
- dry skin;
- fungal infections;
- muscle weakness;
- dry mouth;
- acetone presence in the urine (type 1 diabetes);
- visual impairment;
- limbs’ numbness.
Signs of type 1 diabetes are expressed in the form of:
- frequent urination;
- weight loss;
- dry mouth;
- fatigue, nausea.
Minor signs are: heart pain, leg cramps, headache, skin itching, furunculosis.
Type 2 diabetes causes numbness and cramps in the legs. There can be pains in the arms and legs, thirst, itching, skin infections that transform into non-healing wounds. In men, erectile dysfunction can be observed. Other patients may suffer from frequent infectious diseases and excess weight. Symptoms of type 2 diabetes are not obvious and mild. Often type 2 in adolescents and adults is not expressed, it complicates its diagnosis. Typically, in these patients, type 2 diabetes is diagnosed by chance in a urinalysis.
Who is at risk of acquiring diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes
Unfortunately, the number of patients diagnosed with type 1 diabetes is increasing. The diabetes frequency can be caused by environmental degradation, viral infections, and other factors. This disease occurs in people of any age, but usually at risk – children and adolescents.
Type 2 diabetes
There are some factors according to which a person can be classified as a risk group:
- lack of physical activity;
- elderly age;
- gestational diabetes.
The number of people with type 2 diabetes is growing rapidly worldwide. This is associated with an aging population, rapid economic development, increased urbanization, malnutrition, and a sedentary lifestyle.
Over time, diabetes can affect the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves. In adults with diabetes, the risk of heart attack and stroke is 2-3 times higher. In combination with a decrease in blood flow, the neuropathy (nerve damage) of the legs increases the likelihood of ulcers on the legs, infection and, ultimately, the need for limbs’ amputation.
Diabetic retinopathy, which is one of the important causes of blindness, develops as a result of the long-term accumulation of damage to the small blood vessels of the retina. Diabetes can be attributed to 2.6% of global cases of blindness. Diabetes is one of the main causes of kidney failure.
Simple measures to keep a healthy lifestyle are effective in preventing or delaying type 2 diabetes. To help prevent type 2 diabetes and its complications, you need to follow the rules:
- gain a healthy body weight and control it;
- attend a 30 minute work-outs;
- keep a healthy diet;
- reduce sugar and saturated fats intake;
- quit tobacco use (smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases).
Diagnosis and treatment
Early diagnosis can be done using relatively inexpensive blood testing.
Diabetes treatment is based on a suitable diet of physical activity along with a decrease in blood glucose levels and levels of other known risk factors that destroy blood vessels. It is also important to stop using tobacco to prevent complications.
Activities that save costs and are feasible in developing countries include:
- control of moderate blood glucose, especially in people with type 1 diabetes. Such people need insulin; people with type 2 diabetes can be treated with oral medications, but they may also need insulin;
- blood pressure control;
- care for legs.
Other cost-saving activities include:
- retinopathy screening (which causes blindness);
- monitoring blood lipids (to regulate cholesterol);
- screening for early signs of kidney disease associated with diabetes.