Diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus, is a group of conditions that affect your body’s response to blood sugar. The food you eat gets converted into glucose (blood sugar) which acts as fuel for your body. Diabetes can lead to an abnormal rise in blood sugar levels which can further lead to significant health complications.
There are several different types of diabetes, including:
- Type 1 diabetes
- Type 2 diabetes
- Gestational diabetes
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are chronic conditions while others are reversible.
Diabetes symptoms largely depend on the levels of blood sugar in your body. It is also possible for some patients (especially those suffering from type 2) to not experience any symptoms, at times.
Common diabetes symptoms include:
- Increased urge to urinate
- Increased thirst
- Increased frequency of hunger or feeling bouts of hunger
- Unexplained sudden weight loss
- Frequent infections
- Ketones in the urine
- Blurred vision
- Decreased speed of healing for sores
The exact causes of diabetes depends upon its type.
Causes of type 1 diabetes
The exact cause behind type 1 diabetes is not known. Researchers believe that type 1 diabetes is caused when your immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the cells responsible for the production of insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that circulates sugar to your body cells. Due to the immune system’s response, there is a deficiency or absence of insulin in your body leading to high blood sugar levels.
Causes of type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes occurs when your cells gain resistance against insulin. After some time, your pancreas cannot produce sufficient insulin that leads to blood sugar level build up.
Causes of gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes is a condition that occurs during pregnancy. It is triggered by pregnancy hormones that make your cells resist insulin leading to high blood sugar levels.
Causes of prediabetes
Prediabetes is a condition in which your blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be considered diabetes. Prediabetes is also caused for the same reasons as type 2 diabetes, that is, the resistance of cells to insulin.
Risk factors for diabetes
Risk factors for diabetes
Risk factors for diabetes are also categorised based on their types.
You may be at a greater risk for type 1 diabetes due to family history of the disease, environmental factors and autoantibodies.
Risk factors for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes are high body weight, less physical activity, family history of the disease, advanced age and high blood pressure.
Increased risk for gestational diabetes happens due to increased body weight, age and family history.
Based on your risk factors, you may seek routine screening and testing for diagnosis. Common tests done to diagnose diabetes include Glycated haemoglobin test, random blood sugar test, oral glucose tolerance test.
Your care plan for diabetes management will be based on your lifestyle, type of diabetes, overall health and age. Your doctor will prescribe medication along with guidance on healthy eating, physical activity and ways to monitor your symptoms.
Diabetes can cause various complications including foot damage, nerve damage, kidney problems, skin conditions and Alzheimer’s.
You can prevent diabetes by knowing your risk factors, eating right and maintaining healthy body weight.
If you have diabetes, you should regularly go for blood sugar tests and eye tests, keep your blood pressure and cholesterol in check, avoid smoking or consuming tobacco and avoid stress.