All you need to know about Diabetes...
About 422 million people worldwide have diabetes, the majority living in low-and middle-income countries, and 1.6 million deaths are directly attributed to diabetes each year. Both the number of cases and the prevalence of diabetes have been steadily increasing over the past few decades.
Diabetes occurs when blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high over a prolonged period of time. A blood sugar level less than 140 mg/dL is normal. A reading of more than 200 mg/dL after two hours indicates diabetes. A reading between 140 and 199 mg/dL indicates prediabetes.
Most of the food we eat is broken down into sugar (also called glucose) and released into our bloodstream. When the blood sugar goes up, it signals pancreas to release insulin. Insulin acts like a key to let the blood sugar into the body's cells for use as energy. When someone has diabetes their body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use the insulin it makes as well as it should. This leads to glucose not being absorbed properly by the body cells that require it, and not being stored appropriately in the liver and muscles. The net effect being persistent high levels of blood glucose.
There are three main types of diabetes – Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational.
Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin by itself. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults, but it can develop at any age.
It is thought to be caused by an autoimmune reaction (the body attacks itself by mistake) that destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin, called beta cells. This process can go on for months or years before any symptoms appear. Some people have certain genes (traits passed on from parent to child) that make them more likely to develop type 1 diabetes, though many won’t go on to have type 1 diabetes even if they have the genes. Being exposed to a trigger in the environment, such as a virus, is also thought to play a part in developing type 1 diabetes.
Although Type 1 diabetes cannot currently be prevented, the starting point for living well with diabetes is an early diagnosis – the longer a person lives with undiagnosed and untreated diabetes, the worse their health outcomes are likely to be. Easy access to basic diagnostics, such as blood glucose testing, should therefore be available in primary health care settings. Patients will need periodic specialist assessment or treatment for complications.
Type 2 diabetes (formerly called non-insulin-dependent, or adult-onset) results from the body’s ineffective use of insulin. The majority of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. This type of diabetes is largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity. Symptoms may be similar to those of type 1 diabetes, but are often less marked. As a result, the disease may be diagnosed several years after onset, after complications have already arisen.
Until recently, this type of diabetes was seen only in adults but it is now also occurring increasingly frequently in children. If you have type 2 diabetes, cells don’t respond normally to insulin; this is called insulin resistance. Your pancreas makes more insulin to try to get cells to respond. Eventually your pancreas can’t keep up, and your blood sugar rises, setting the stage for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that is first seen in a pregnant woman who did not have diabetes before she was pregnant. Some women have more than one pregnancy affected by gestational diabetes. Women with gestational diabetes are at an increased risk of complications during pregnancy and at delivery. These women and possibly their children are also at increased risk of type 2 diabetes in the future. Gestational diabetes usually shows up in the middle of pregnancy. Doctors most often test for it between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy.
Often gestational diabetes can be controlled through eating healthy foods and regular exercise. Sometimes a woman with gestational diabetes must also take insulin.