29 March 2023
by Susheela Mary (Nursing Manager)
This article explores the causes and symptoms of diabetes, as well as lifestyle changes that can help prevent or delay the onset of the disease. It also provides an overview of the various treatments available for diabetes, including medication and lifestyle modifications.
What happens when we eat food containing carbohydrates?
It breaks down into glucose and enters the blood stream. Glucose is the source of energy and we all need energy to stay active. For the glucose to get converted into energy it has to enter the cells. Each cell is like a locked door, unless you put a key it would not open the door for glucose.
Pancreas is the factory which produces these keys called as insulin. The pancreas has its soldiers who sense the amount of glucose in the blood after every meal and accordingly releases insulin. Each insulin key gets attached to the glucose, the key opens the door, glucose enters the cell and it gets converted into energy.
What happens in diabetes?
There is problem with the key that is the insulin. Either the keys produced are not enough which is the insulin insufficiency or the keys are defective which is known as insulin resistance, two most common reasons for getting Type 2 diabetes. Sometimes our own body cells can attack our organs thinking it’s a foreign body knows as auto immune disorder. In Type 1 diabetes the beta cells producing insulin are attacked and destroyed leading to no production of insulin at all. The only treatment for people with Type 1 diabetes is insulin.
What causes diabetes? Though the reason for type 1 diabetes is unknown the Type 2 diabetes has genetic predisposition, lifestyle and the recent infiltration of chemicals in food to blame.
What happens when you have diabetes? Raised blood glucose levels also called as hyperglycemia over a long period of time can damage the blood vessels and nerves leading to major health problems.
According to WHO:
Health impact of diabetes are
Over time, diabetes can damage the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Adults with diabetes have a two- to three-fold increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. Combined with reduced blood flow, neuropathy (nerve damage) in the feet increases the chance of foot ulcers, infection and eventual need for limb amputation. Diabetic retinopathy is an important cause of blindness and occurs as a result of long-term accumulated damage to the small blood vessels in the retina. Close to 1 million people are blind due to diabetes. Diabetes is among the leading causes of kidney failure. People with diabetes are more likely to have poor outcomes for several infectious diseases, including COVID-19.
While taking treatment for diabetes there is always a risk of getting into hypoglycemia which is the low blood glucose levels which occurs due to irregular eating habits or excessive activity. Hypoglycemia can cause tremors, confusion, profuse sweating and at times even seizures. The immediate identification and treatment with simple sugar is important, also identifying the reason for hypoglycemia is very important to prevent future episodes.
Type2 diabetes can be prevented and can be postponed
Lifestyle measures have shown to be effective in preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes. To help prevent type 2 diabetes and its complications, people should:
Diagnosis and treatment of diabetes;
Diabetes can be diagnosed with simple blood sugar testing. Glucose tolerance test and HBA1C are the other confirmatory investigations.
Treatment of diabetes involves diet and physical activity along with lowering of blood glucose and the levels of other known risk factors that damage blood vessels like blood pressure and blood lipids. Tobacco use cessation is also important to avoid complications.
Impaired fasting glucose(IFG) and impaired glucose tolerance(IGT)
The IFG and IGT are intermediate condition which can transition between normality and diabetes. People with IGT or IFG are at high risk of progressing to type 2 diabetes, although this is not inevitable.
The national diabetes prevention program (DPP) by CDC – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages everyone to participate in evidence based lifestyle change program to reduce the risk of diabetes. The key components of the program encourages to:
Be a Calorie Detective
Find Time for Fitness
Take Charge of Your Thoughts
When Weight Loss Stalls
Get Support for following healthy lifestyle
Stay Motivated to Prevent T2 diabetes
Prevent T2—for Life!