Diabetes is a common disease that is primarily caused by the presence of high levels of glucose, also known as blood sugar, in the body. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of 2014 more than 422 million people had the disease, and diabetes is likely to be the 7th most deadly disease by 2030.
Types and Causes
The primary cause of diabetes is the failure of the body to produce sufficient insulin (type 1 diabetes) or when the body fails to effectively utilize the produced insulin (type 2 diabetes). There is no known cause of type 1 diabetes which mostly affect children and has no prevention. Type 2 diabetes, the most common, is mainly attributed to physical inactivity of the body and excess weight. Gestational diabetes is the third type that sometimes occurs during pregnancy when blood glucose exceed the normal but remains below that of diagnostic diabetes.
The following are common known symptoms of diabetes;
i. Excessive and regular urination, a condition known as polyria
ii. Polydipsia (feeling thirsty often)
iii. Weight loss
v. Changes in vision
vi. Constant hunger
In as much as the above symptoms are related to diabetes, they are less marked and may appear suddenly. It is for this reason that most cases of the disease are diagnosed many years later in advanced stages.
Failure to treat diabetes can lead to various life-threatening complications. This is because diabetes damages eyes, nerves, blood vessels and the heart. Some known complications are;
i. Strokes and heart attacks
ii. Neuropathy (damage to nerves) in the patient’s feet, which when combined with low flow of blood can lead to higher chances of foot ulcers, resulting in limb amputation.
iii. It is one of the main causes of the failure of the kidney
Many can delay the start of type 2 diabetes and related complications through lifestyle changes. Some of the recommended remedies include;
i. Proper weight management; ensure you maintain recommended BMI
ii. Try to be physically active throughout. Being active will not only help you lose weight but also boost blood flow in the body. It doesn’t have to be intensive; walking for just 30 minutes daily is all you might really need.
iii. Maintain a proper diet; stay away from fats and sugar. If you must, keep them at very low volumes.
iv. Alcohol and drug abuse; Smoking is a risk factor for not only diabetes but also cardiovascular diseases.
Diagnosis and Treatment
The surest but most inexpensive way to diagnose diabetes is through blood sugar testing. The test can be done as often as possible, with or without the presence of aforementioned symptoms. General treatment mainly focuses on proper management of one’s diet and a program of physical activity. The levels of blood glucose and other risk factors responsible for damage to blood vessels has to be lowered. Other recommended interventions include;
i. Proper medication prescribed by a doctor, ie: injection of insulin into the blood stream (for type 1) and/or oral medication for type 2 diabetes.
ii. Proper care of the feet
iii. Management of blood pressure.
iv.Timely testing and treatment of related complications such as retinopathy (anything that can damage the retina leading to blindness) or kidney disease.
A large percentage of fatal cases of diabetes have been attributed to late diagnosis. To safeguard yourself from the late onset, which can take many years, you are encouraged to routinely check your blood sugar, manage weight and remain physically active.
*The author of this blog is not a medical professional and this article does not contain professional medical advice. This blog is not intended to substitute for medical advice, treatment, or diagnosis. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of the contents of this article. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.