How does one get diabetes and who is most affected?
Diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus by doctors is a group of diseases which are metabolic in nature. In this type of disease, a person has high blood sugar. This happens when the beta cells which produce hormone insulin in the pancreas stops working or cannot respond. Diabetes can be a long-term condition which needs attention at top priority. Besides Type 1 and Type 2, there is a different type which happens to pregnant women. It is called Gestational diabetes.
Basic symptoms of diabetes
- Being thirsty frequently
- Frequent urination
- Weight loss
- Increased hunger
- Tingling and numbness in hands and feet
- Blurry vision
- Wounds which do not heal
- Unexplainable extreme fatigue
- Frequent gums, bladder or gum infections
Sometimes people don’t come to know the symptoms. They even live for months and years without knowing they had diabetes. Diabetes can occur to anyone. It can even be passed on from the parents. The risk is higher as people grow older. People who have crossed 40 and overweight can most likely have the disease. The most common race that is prone to diabetes is Native Americas, African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans and Pacific Islanders.
All kinds of diabetes are treatable except Type 1. This lasts for a lifetime and there is no cure. Some people have managed to get rid of it by exercise, diet and weight control. Research has shown that gastric bypass surgery can reverse Type 2 diabetes. If diabetes is not controlled, the patient has a high chance of increasing other complications as well. Some serious complications include:
- Eye complications – cataracts, glaucoma, and some others
- Skin complexities- people with diabetes are prone to skin diseases and infections.
- Mental health- Depression, anxiety can affect the mental health.
- Gum diseases- There is a high chance of gum diseases
- Nephropathy – uncontrolled blood sugar can lead to kidney diseases.
- Stroke – high cholesterol levels can increase the cause of heart attack
The majority of type 2 diabetes patients have pre-diabetes. The blood sugar becomes higher than normal but not high enough for diabetes. The cells become resistant to insulin.
During this stage, some damage to circulatory and heart takes place.
What causes Type 1 Diabetes?
In this diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the beta cells. We all know that the immune system protects the body from various diseases and also helps in healing. But the autoimmune disease, it attacks the own body. This type generally occurs in children and young adults, but they can appear at any stage. Previously, it was known as juvenile diabetes or insulin dependent diabetes mellitus.
Slowly developing diabetes is called Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA) which can be detected after the age of 30. Patients may still produce insulin, but will eventually need shots of insulin.
Heredity plays a major role in diabetes. Certain genes that help in making proteins are linked with type 1 diabetes. They are known as human leukocyte anti agents. The key genes may vary in different population groups. Interestingly, some combination of HLA can be risked of diabetes while other variants may not be affected at all. Scientists are still researching about the gene testing and how to cure Type 1 diabetes.
Some particular foods, toxins, and viruses also cause diabetes, but the exact cause cannot be determined. A virus cannot cause diabetes, but a viral infection can form a link. It’s more common during winter when the viral infections are at peak. Scientists are still searching for one particular kind of virus so a vaccine can be developed. Breastfeeding can reduce the chance of type 1 diabetes.
What causes type 2 diabetes?
The main cause of Type 2 diabetes is insulin resistance, where body fat, muscle or liver does not use insulin properly. It develops gradually but in a subtle way. It happens in the middle ages or people who are overweight. This disease was once rare in youth has become more common now. Studies have shown that variants of TCF7L2 increase the chance of having type 2 diabetes to about 80%. Genes can increase the chance of this type when a person becomes overweight. The body has a tendency to store energy for later use. The high-calorie food available today can only increase the process.
An imbalance between physical activity and calorie intake can lead to obesity or overweight. The belly fat produces hormones that cause a harmful and chronic effect like damaging blood vessels.
Having a family history of diabetes can be a big cause for having type 2 diabetes. This disorder happens mostly in Africans, Americans, Hispanics and Indians. Many gene variations can even cause women to have diabetes during pregnancy. This type generally disappears after delivery.
Recommended Medical tests
A1C Test – This test checks the long-term blood sugar control. The test can be done 2-4 times in a year. It’s generally for non-pregnant women.
Complete foot exam – This test checks for sores and infections. It should be taken at least once in a year. The goal is to have healthy tissues and normal circulation.
Blood Pressure – The readings of blood pressure above 130/80 should be treated and tested.
Lipid Profile – This test helps to check the high or low amount of cholesterol. The test can be done once a year.
Kidney Function – To detect early signs of kidney problems.
Dilated eye exam – To check the changes in blood vessels in the retina.
Best remedies for Prevention
Exercise is the best cure for all kinds of diseases. Keep a watch on your weight and eating habits. Reduce sweets and increase fruits and vegetables. Few simple ways to do it is to leave the car behind and walk a little to your office. Enjoy coffee as it helps to keep diabetes at the far end. Cinnamon can help in controlling blood sugar. Reduce stress and enjoy the moments. Get a good night sleep and be in good company. Visit your doctor once a year for a blood test just to be sure. This will help in early detections of risks which can be prevented.