What is diabetes?
The more commonly known form of Diabetes is Diabetes Mellitus. The name derives from the Greek term ‘Diabenein’ meaning “to pass through” and ‘Mellitus meaning “sweetened with honey”. The basic symptoms are explained by the name – passing out excessive urine that has sugar content present.
Someone with diabetes has increased glucose level in the body that is usually excreted in the urine, because he suffers from an inability to produce or respond to insulin. As a result, more water gets flushed out of the body with the patient always feeling thirsty.
Basically, three types of diabetes exist: Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational Diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes: most often, this is a genetic disease that may also be caused by some environmental factors. Here, some antibodies are produced within the patient’s body. These antibodies are responsible for destroying the insulin producing cells. With the reduction of or the stopping of the production of insulin, glucose level goes up. This type of diabetes can be treated using insulin injections.
Type 2 Diabetes: this is the type of diabetes that is the most common and observed in people that are generally over 40 years of age. Obesity is a big contributing factor to this type of diabetes besides genetic factors. The risks of having this Type of diabetes can be substantially increased by diets that have high fat contents or a lack of any physical exercise.
Gestational diabetes: this type is generally observed in pregnant women who have high blood sugar levels during pregnancy. Possibilities that the baby may get affected when its mother is suffering from this type of diabetes are high. It’s been observed that women suffering from gestational diabetes often end up having Type 2 diabetes.
Basic Causes of the different Types of Diabetes
Diabetes is the result of the body failing to process sugars the way it’s meant to. This is the normal function of the hormone called insulin produced by the pancreas. It is normally released into the bloodstream to regulate the blood sugar (glucose) level and in diabetic patients, this process doesn’t function appropriately. Listed below are some of the reasons for this:
- The hormone (insulin) is not being produced and the sufferer is therefore required to use insulin injections. This is Type 1 diabetes.
- The body has built resistance to the hormone (insulin) that the pancreas is producing, making it ineffective. This is Type 2 diabetes and is fast becoming very common.
Diabetes may not instantly be life threatening but can have a damaging long term effect on one’s health. Prolonged high blood sugar levels and uncontrolled diabetes have the potential of causing problems to parts or organs of the body like the heart, nerves, eyes, and the kidney. This obviously doesn’t sound good but using a combination of diet and exercise, alternative health care procedures and herbal remedies to control blood sugar level will highly reduce any long term issues.
How do you know if you have diabetes?
The easiest way to find out if you have diabetes is to arrange for a doctor to check your blood sugar level. A small electronic tester will be used to check your blood sugar level from a tiny blood sample that will be taken from your finger. Generally, in the USA, the normal blood sugar level range is between 72 -126 mg/dl. When the body is unable to keep the blood sugar level within these limits, diabetes can be diagnosed.
It is possible for one to have diabetes for months or even years and not realize it, until one day, out of the blues, while doing a routine check-up it is discovered. But more often, it is the experiences the patient has that indicate the presence of diabetes, and depending on the individual, the symptoms can be severe or mild, few or many.
The following are some of the symptoms that indicate there is diabetes:
- Weight loss: glucose is the major fuel for the body. Since diabetics are unable to properly take care of the glucose in the body, it is passed out through the urine reducing the amount of fuel the body has to work with. The body’s reserves are, in the process, depleted to produce energy for the body hence the loss of weight.
- Increased thirst: even after repeatedly drinking water for long periods, you still feel thirsty. Worse of, before they are diagnosed, a lot of diabetics go on drinking sugary liquids, thereby compounding and escalating the blood sugar levels and resulting in an increase in thirst.
- Increase in the frequency of Urination: Diabetics frequently need to urinate and excrete large amounts of water. Waking up from a deep sleep around 2 or 3 am is a common thing and can really be disturbing. The high levels of blood sugar spills into the urine giving it a syrupy look and in an attempt to counter this, the body draws more water from itself. This only results in dehydration and more thirst.
- No symptoms: whether or not you experience any of the symptoms listed here or not, it’s fine to also arrange a test with a doctor. A lot of people are astonished when they discover they have diabetes yet were not experiencing any of the symptoms.
Blurry vision, constipation, tingling or pins and needles in the feet and hands, increased infections, lack of energy, weight loss and tiredness/ increased fatigue are some of the other symptoms associated with diabetes. This though is not a comprehensive list.
If you run a search on the internet, you’ll find several resources that’ll provide you with a lot of information on diabetes. There isn’t any fixed cure to diabetes yet but medical control and a proper healthy lifestyle are the best ways to control it.
However, in case you have also experienced any of these symptoms, it does not follow that you are diabetic. But it is advisable to see your doctor early to be sure or for early detection!