Diabetes

Diabetes treatment | Healthier Me TodayThe body processes foods like carbohydrates, fats, and proteins through simple compounds like glucose. Glucose is a kind of sugar and it is the major energy source of all the cells present in the human body. The pancreas release a regulatory hormone called insulin which is responsible to maintain blood glucose. In diabetes, the blood glucose levels shoot up above the normal range. According to the American Diabetes Association, 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes each year and 1.6 million Americans (including children and adults) have type 1 diabetes.


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Different Types of Diabetes

The most common type is type 2 diabetes. About 95% of all diabetes cases in the US are type 2 diabetes. Two main types of diabetes are type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.

A third subtype is called gestational diabetes, which is a condition that sometimes occurs in pregnant women. In type 1 diabetes, insulin is not produced at all. Some cells in the body attack the insulin-secreting cells in the pancreas thus, preventing them from producing any insulin. The body still breaks down the carbohydrates from food and turns them into glucose. In the absence of insulin, though, glucose cannot get into the body’s cells. This accumulation of glucose leads to high blood sugar levels.

In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas makes insulin but, the insulin doesn’t work properly or the quantity of insulin is inadequate for glucose regulation. Hence, the blood glucose levels keep fluctuating. When the cells don’t respond normally to insulin, it is called insulin resistance. The pancreas keeps making more insulin to try and get the cells to respond but eventually, they are unable to cope with the constant blood sugar rises. This sets the stage for prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes.

There are also other subtypes like type 3c and latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA) which are rare forms of diabetes. In all types of diabetes, though, glucose is not absorbed by the cells properly, so it begins to build up in your blood. Excessive glucose causes a cascade of metabolic irregularities in the body that lead to specific symptoms.

Common Symptoms of Diabetes

  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Lower energy levels than usual
  • Increased thirst
  • Long periods of time for wounds or cuts to heal
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Feeling itchy or thrush
  • Weak eyesight
  • Increased appetite

These symptoms were reported in both adults and children. The symptoms of type 1 diabetes appear quite quickly, where people with type 1 diabetes are diagnosed in childhood and early adulthood (the symptoms are the same at any age). In the case of type 1, the body tries to get rid of the glucose through your kidneys hence, patients need to visit the bathroom more frequently. Other signs of type 1 diabetes are feeling thirsty and losing weight without trying to.

The symptoms are seen quickly in children. It is therefore very important to see a doctor as soon as possible if one notices any signs. In type 2 diabetes, your body can’t get enough glucose into your cells so you constantly feel tired. Feeling thirsty, going to the bathroom a lot, and losing weight without trying are symptoms just like type 1 but they develop more slowly — making the condition difficult to spot.

Who Should Get Tested for Diabetes?

The American Diabetes Association recommends the following people to be screened for diabetes:

  • People with a body mass index (BMI) higher than 25
  • People who are suffering from high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, a sedentary lifestyle, a history of polycystic ovary syndrome, or heart disease
  • People who have a family history of diabetes or those with close relatives suffering from diabetes
  • People older than 45 are advised to receive an initial blood sugar screening and should be screened every three years thereafter
  • Women who have had gestational diabetes are advised to undergo a screening every three years
  • People with prediabetes need to get themselves tested every year

The most common test to detect type 1, type 2, and prediabetes is the glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test.

Treatment

Insulin injections, an insulin pump, frequent blood sugar checks, and carbohydrate counting are all involved in the treatment of type 1 diabetes. Treatment of type 2 diabetes primarily involves lifestyle changes, monitoring of your blood sugar, along with diabetes medications, insulin, or both. Treatment involves monitoring the blood sugar as many as four times a day. If you are taking insulin, your blood sugar should be monitored more than four times a day. Careful monitoring helps to maintain blood sugar levels within the target range.

Sometimes the blood sugar levels may change unpredictably. In this case, the doctors can guide you on what must be done in terms of food choices, physical activity, and medications. A1C testing is recommended to measure the average blood sugar levels of the past two to three months. A1C testing is an indicator of the progress that the treatment plan is making. The doctor may suggest changes in medication, insulin regimen, or meal plan if there are fluctuations in the A1C results. The American Diabetes Association recommends an A1C of below 7% for most people with diabetes.

The second treatment involves insulin therapy. People with Type 1 diabetes depend on insulin therapy for survival. Many people with type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes also need insulin therapy. Oral medications include Metformin (aka Glumetza or Fortamet) which is usually the first medication prescribed for Type 2 diabetes. SGLT2 inhibitors may be used — they cause the kidneys to take the sugar and expel it with urine so it doesn’t go back into the bloodstream. Pancreas transplantation and bariatric surgeries are some of the other treatment options which have been used to manage diabetes. These, however, involve a lifetime of immune-suppressing drugs and are reserved only for patients whose diabetes cannot be controlled and need a kidney transplant.

How to Manage Diabetes

  • Healthy Eating: Healthy eating can make a major difference in treating diabetes. If someone has been newly diagnosed, they should follow the diet prescribed by the dietitian. Examples of what could be included are vegetables, whole grains, fruit, low-fat dairy, healthy fats, and lean protein sources. This long-term strategy should be enforced as it is crucial in diabetes management.
  • Being Active and Losing Weight: Exercise and a healthy weight is helpful in controlling blood glucose levels. A healthy and balanced diet can help you shed weight and reduce your risk of developing diabetes.

FAQ

  1. Does diabetes affect mensuration? Yes, it does. Menstruation can be delayed or go on for extended periods of time.
  2. Are diabetic symptoms the same in both men and women? Yes. Men and women will both experience the same symptoms for diabetes, such as frequent urination, increased thirst, weight loss/gain.

Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!

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