It is a group of metabolic diseases resulting in too much sugar in the blood leading to all sorts of complications to the body. The condition is referred to as Diabetes Mellitus. It is rather a deficiency in the way the body breaks down the food and converts it into usable energy. With this, sugar escapes into the blood stream rather than reaching the cells and tissues to be converted to energy.
Pancreas, a gland which is behind the stomach produces hormones called Insulin. Usually, the amount of insulin produced is sufficient. If it does not produce insulin or if the body cannot make use of the insulin properly, then trouble starts. The hormone insulin helps in carrying the sugar from the blood to the cells and tissues to be converted to energy for body functions or stored as fat for future use. This energy is the fuel for our daily activities.
1. Type 1 diabetes - The body does not produce insulin, and hence patients are dependent on external insulin injections for the rest of their life. This can be seen in very early childhood, or the onset happens after the age of 40 years.
2. Type 2 diabetes – The body produces insulin but cannot be used properly. Hence external medications are needed to work as a catalyst. They do not need insulin injections if they maintain a healthy lifestyle, take their medications regularly and be physically active. But type 2 diabetes progresses to a level where the doctor would prescribe insulin injections after several years. The body would have reached a stage where oral medications would not suffice.
3. Gestational diabetes – can affect females during their pregnancy but can disappear after the delivery.
In all these cases, uncontrolled sugar levels can lead to hypoglycemia (low sugar) or hyperglycemia (high sugar). Care should be taken to avoid both the stages with proper control over food, diet and exercise.
Unexplained weight loss or weight gain, frequent urination, constant hunger, bruises that do not heal, numbness and tingling in hands and feet.
Diabetes is known as a silent killer disease. Because of the uncontrolled blood sugars, the organs of the body starts getting affected with a long tenure of illness and complications can occur. Some of them are medical emergencies.
- Skin - infections
- Eye - cataracts, retinopathy and glaucoma
- Foot - neuropathy, ulcers, and gangrene requiring amputation
- Heart - ischemic heart disease leading to heart attacks
- Hypertension – risk of kidney disease, eye problems, stroke and heart problems as well as anxiety and depression
- Hearing - hearing problems
- Ketoacidosis - ketone bodies and acidity in the blood
- Neuropathy - nerve damage especially in foot, tingling, pain
- Nephropathy - kidney disease
- Stroke – high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar leading to stroke
- Erectile dysfunction - male impotence
Tests to determine the disease:
1.Hb A1C the test considers blood sugar levels over the previous three months, and the readings which are shown in percentages can be diagnosed as
- - 6.5% means sure case of diabetes
- - the range between 5.7% and 5.99% means prediabetes or borderline diabetes
- - less than 5.7% means normal
2.Fasting blood sugar test
Results are given in numbers
126 mg/dl means diabetes
3. Oral glucose tolerance test
where a patient is made to drink 100mg of glucose in water and then every 30 minutes, readings are taken for blood sugar and evaluated.