Diabetes is a chronic disease affecting a large adult population worldwide. It is caused by the body's inability to produce or properly use insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels. Diabetes can lead to severe health complications such as stroke, heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, and amputations if left unmanaged. However, with proper diabetes management, these complications can be prevented or delayed. Diabetes can be either type-1 or type-2 or prediabetes or gestational diabetes. Each type has a different cause and requires a different treatment approach.
Type 1 Diabetes - It is caused by autoimmune destruction of the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas that typically develops in childhood or adolescence.
Type 2 Diabetes - This form of diabetes is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, such as obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, which generally develops in adulthood.
Gestational Diabetes - This type of diabetes occurs during pregnancy and is caused by hormonal changes.
Prediabetes - It is a clinical condition wherein the individual has a higher than normal blood sugar level but is not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes yet. It usually occurs in people with a family history of diabetes or had gestational diabetes.
Understanding the causes and symptoms of diabetes is crucial to diagnose and managing the disease effectively. The most prevailing symptoms of diabetes include:
Increased thirst and urination
Slow healing of cuts and wounds
Numbness or tingling of hands and feet
Unexpected weight loss
Yeast infections or recurrent vaginal infections in women
What Diagnostic Tests are performed to detect diabetes?
Several diagnostic tests can be used to diagnose diabetes. These tests measure the amount of blood glucose and can help to identify the type of diabetes and the severity of the disease.
Random blood glucose test: This test measures the amount of glucose in the blood at the time of testing.
Fasting blood glucose test: This test measures the amount of glucose in the blood after an overnight fast.
Oral glucose tolerance test: This test measures the amount of glucose in the blood after consuming a glucose-containing drink.
Hemoglobin A1c test: This test measures the average blood sugar level over the past 2-3 months.
Glucose screening test: It is carried out during pregnancy to detect gestational diabetes, which can be followed by a glucose intolerance test, if necessary.
How is Diabetes Managed & Treated?
The treatment of diabetes varies depending on the type and severity of the disease. Treatment options include medications, insulin therapy, and lifestyle modifications.
Medications for Diabetes
Your doctor may prescribe the following medications for you if you have diabetes:
Metformin: This medication helps to lower blood sugar levels by decreasing the production of glucose by the liver and increasing insulin sensitivity.
Sulfonylureas: This medication helps to lower blood sugar levels by increasing insulin production.
DPP-4 inhibitors: This medication helps lower blood sugar levels by increasing the number of incretin hormones in the body, stimulating insulin production.
Treating diabetic patients with artificially prepared insulin is known as insulin therapy. The insulin used in treatment can be of the following types:
Rapid-acting insulin: This insulin starts working within 15 minutes and lasts 2-4 hours.
Long-acting insulin: This insulin begins working within 1 hour and lasts up to 24 hours.
Intermediate-acting insulin: This insulin starts working within 2-4 hours and lasts 12-18 hours.
Doctors recommend several lifestyle modifications that are essential in keeping your diabetes under control. Some of these lifestyle variations have been specified below:
Eating a diet low in fat and calories and high in fiber can help manage diabetes. Include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, and avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, and foods high in saturated and trans fats to manage diabetes effectively.
Regular physical activity helps to lower blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and promote weight loss. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise daily, such as brisk walking.
Maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent clinical complications associated with diabetes and assist in the effective management of the manifestation.
Regular monitoring and checking of blood sugar levels can help identify patterns and trends and adjust treatment as needed.
Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, as they can damage the blood vessels and increase the risk of complications associated with diabetes.
Monitoring and Managing Complications of Diabetes
Diabetes can lead to serious health complications resulting in limb amputations and fatal outcomes if left unmanaged. However, with proper diabetes management, these complications can be prevented or delayed. Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider, including eye and foot exams, can help to detect and manage diabetes-related complications early.
The various complications of diabetes can be managed in the following manner:
Cardiovascular disease: Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and taking medications as prescribed can help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Nephropathy (kidney disease): Tight control of blood sugar and blood pressure can help to slow the progression of kidney disease.
Neuropathy (nerve damage): Regular exercise and taking medications as prescribed can help to reduce the symptoms of nerve damage.
Retinopathy (eye damage): Tight control of blood sugar and regular eye exams can help to prevent or delay the onset of eye damage.
Living with diabetes can be challenging, but some strategies can help to make it easier.
Finding support: Joining a support group, talking to other people with diabetes, and connecting with a diabetes educator can provide emotional support and practical advice.
Managing stress: Stress can raise blood sugar levels, so it is crucial to find ways to manage stress, such as through exercise, relaxation techniques, or counseling.
Managing diabetes in daily life:
Planning ahead: Planning meals, packing snacks, and carrying glucose tablets or gel can help to manage blood sugar levels when eating out or when away from home.
Adjusting to changes: Being open to trying new treatments, adjusting medications, and making lifestyle changes as needed can help to manage diabetes effectively.
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