Diabetes is a chronic medical condition where the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or can’t effectively use the insulin it does produce. Insulin is a hormone that is responsible for regulating the amount of sugar in the blood.

There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. In Type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks and destroys cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. This type is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. In Type 2 diabetes, the body becomes resistant to insulin or doesn’t make enough to maintain a normal glucose level. This type is more common and is often associated with obesity, physical inactivity, and poor diet.

Untreated or poorly managed diabetes can lead to several complications including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, eye problems, and nerve damage. Management of diabetes often involves lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet and regular physical activity, alongside medication or insulin therapy. Regular monitoring of blood glucose levels is also crucial in managing the condition.


Causes of Diabetes

There are several types of diabetes, and they have different causes. Here are some of them:

1. Type 1 Diabetes: This type is believed to be an autoimmune condition. This means that your body attacks and destroys the beta cells in your pancreas that produce insulin. The causes are not entirely known, but genetic factors might play a role. Some research suggests environmental factors like viruses might also trigger the disease.

2. Type 2 Diabetes: In type 2 diabetes, your cells become resistant to the action of insulin, and your pancreas can’t produce enough insulin to overcome this resistance. This type of diabetes is mainly associated with lifestyle factors. This includes obesity, lack of physical activity, poor diet, and excess body fat around the abdomen. Genetics and family history also play a crucial part in type 2 diabetes.

3. Gestational Diabetes: This type occurs during pregnancy. During pregnancy, the placenta makes hormones that leads to a buildup of glucose in your blood. Usually, your pancreas can send out enough insulin to handle it, but if it can’t, sugar levels will rise, causing gestational diabetes.

4. Prediabetes: This is a condition in which your blood sugar is high, but not high enough to be classified as full-blown diabetes. It’s often a precursor to type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes is primarily caused by obesity and lack of physical activity.

Remember, while these are the main causes of diabetes, it is a versatile disease that sometimes doesn’t fit neatly into these categories or causes. Other types of diabetes also exist, and their causes could range from specific genetic syndromes, surgery, medications, infections, and other illnesses.

Risk Factors of Diabetes

Diabetes has several risk factors, which are divided into two categories: non-modifiable and modifiable.

Non-modifiable risk factors:

1. Genetics/Family History: A family history of diabetes can increase a person’s risk, especially if a parent or sibling has the disease.
2. Age: The risk of type 2 diabetes increases with age, particularly after 45 years. This may be because people tend to exercise less, lose muscle mass and gain weight as they age.
3. Ethnicity: Certain ethnic groups, including African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans, are at higher risk.

Modifiable risk factors:

1. Overweight/Obesity: The more fatty tissue a person has, the more resistant their cells become to insulin. This is a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
2. Diet: A poor diet — especially one high in fat, calories, and cholesterol — can contribute to obesity and, consequently, diabetes risk.
3. Inactivity/Physical Exercise: Physical activity aids weight control, uses up glucose as energy and makes the body’s cells more sensitive to insulin. Lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk of diabetes.
4. Smoking: It has been experimentally proven that smoking increases abdominal fat accumulation and insulin resistance, promoting the occurrence of type 2 diabetes.

Other risk factors:

1. Gestational Diabetes: If a woman had gestational diabetes during pregnancy, this increases her risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
2. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: This condition — characterized by irregular menstrual periods, excess hair growth and obesity — has been linked with insulin resistance that can lead to type 2 diabetes.
3. High Blood Pressure: This condition often coexists with diabetes in a collection of conditions called Metabolic Syndrome.
4. Abnormal Cholesterol Levels: Particularly low HDL or high triglycerides can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Remember that having risk factors doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get the disease, but it does increase the likelihood. Regular check-ups and a healthy lifestyle can help manage these risks. If you’re worried about any of these risk factors, it’s important to discuss them with a healthcare professional.

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects how your body turns food into energy. It’s categorized mainly into type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is when the body can’t produce insulin, while type 2 is when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.

Here are some signs and symptoms to watch out for:

1. Frequent Urination: Excess blood sugar leads to frequent urination to get rid of it.

2. Increased Thirst: This can be a result of frequent urination causing you to get dehydrated.

3. Extreme Hunger and Unexplained Weight Loss: Despite eating more than usual to relieve hunger, you may lose weight as your body uses other sources of fuel apart from the sugar in your bloodstream.

4. Fatigue: The lack of sugar in your cells can leave you feeling tired and weak.

5. Blurred Vision: High levels of blood sugar can affect the blood vessels in the eyes, leading to blurred vision.

6. Slow Healing Sores or Frequent Infections: Diabetes affects your body’s ability to heal wounds and fight off bacteria and infections.

7. Tingling Hands and Feet: Excess sugar in the blood can lead to nerve damage, causing tingling and a loss of sensation in the hands and feet.

8. Dark Skin Patches: In some cases, people with diabetes develop patches of dark, velvety skin in the body folds and creases, a condition known as acanthosis nigricans.

Remember, these symptoms can be mild and develop gradually for type 2 diabetes, which makes it harder to recognize. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact a healthcare professional. Diabetes is a serious condition that should be managed under the supervision of a doctor.

Diagnosis Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas is no longer able to make insulin, or when the body cannot make good use of the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas, that acts like a key to let glucose from the food we eat pass from the bloodstream into the cells in the body to produce energy. All carbohydrate foods are broken down into glucose in the blood. Insulin helps glucose get into the cells.

There are two main types of diabetes:

1. Type 1 Diabetes: The body does not produce insulin at all. It is often referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes. It is also usually characterized as juvenile diabetes or early-onset diabetes because it typically develops before the age of 40.

2. Type 2 Diabetes: The body does not produce enough insulin or the insulin that is produced does not work properly. This type is much more prevalent and around 90% of all cases of diabetes globally are of this type.

Common symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, increased thirst, increased hunger, weight loss, tiredness, and blurred vision. If not managed well, diabetes can lead to serious complications, including heart disease, stroke, nerve damage, kidney disease, and eye problems.

Diabetes is diagnosed via certain tests like fasting plasma glucose test, random plasma glucose test, oral glucose tolerance test, and Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test. If a person’s test results show high glucose levels, they may be diagnosed with diabetes.

Treatment of Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic disease that requires ongoing medical attention and self-management to keep in control. Here’s an overview of diabetes treatment approaches:

1. Medication: The treatment typically begins with oral medication, such as Metformin. Some types of diabetes pills include Sulfonylureas, Meglitinides, DPP-4 inhibitors, GLP-1 receptor agonists, and SGLT2 inhibitors. In some cases, insulin injections or a pump may be required.

2. Lifestyle Changes: Changes to diet, exercise habits, and overall lifestyle are often needed. This might involve working with a dietitian to create a meal plan that balances carbohydrate intake and medication, regular exercise to help keep blood glucose levels within a normal range, quitting smoking, and reducing alcohol intake.

3. Regular Monitoring: Regular blood sugar checks are crucial, often several times a day, to monitor and manage the levels effectively.

4. Routine Checks: Regular check-ups with your healthcare provider and routine lab tests are necessary. You may have to check your cholesterol, kidney function, blood pressure, and ensure your vaccinations are up to date.

5. Psychosocial care: Given the mental burden that diabetes often brings, psychological counseling could be beneficial.

6. Patient Education: Education on diabetes and corresponding self-management should be provided.

It’s important to remember that diabetes management can vary greatly depending on whether a person has Type 1 Diabetes (which involves an autoimmune reaction where the body attacks its insulin-producing cells, requiring insulin medication) or Type 2 Diabetes (characterized by insulin resistance, and can sometimes be managed through lifestyle modifications).

It’s crucial to collaborate with healthcare providers to design a treatment plan that fits individual health goals, personal and cultural preferences, and economic situations. Each patient is different and management strategies must be personalized.

Medications commonly used for Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition that occurs when your body can’t regulate glucose levels in your blood. Several different medications are often needed to help manage this disease. Please consult with a healthcare professional before taking any medications.

1. Metformin (Biguanides): The first line of treatment for type 2 diabetes is often metformin. It works by reducing the amount of glucose your liver produces and increasing your body’s response to insulin.

2. Sulfonylureas: These medications stimulate the cells in your pancreas to produce more insulin. Examples include Glipizide, Glyburide, and Glimepiride.

3. DPP-4 Inhibitors: This class of drugs helps lower A1C levels by inhibiting DPP-4, an enzyme that removes incretin from the body. Examples include Januvia (sitagliptin), Onglyza (saxagliptin) and Tradjenta (linagliptin).

4. Meglitinides: These medications stimulate the secretion of insulin. They work faster and shorter than sulfonylureas. Examples are Repaglinide (Prandin) and Nateglinide (Starlix).

5. Thiazolidinediones: These pills help cells more effectively use insulin, thus lowering the blood sugar. The most common types are Pioglitazone (Actos) and Rosiglitazone (Avandia).

6. GLP-1 Receptor Agonists: These injectable medications slow digestion and help lower blood sugar levels. Examples include Trulicity (dulaglutide), Byetta (exenatide), and Victoza (liraglutide).

7. SGLT2 inhibitors: This class of drug prevents the kidneys from reabsorbing glucose into the blood, allowing more glucose to be excreted in the urine. This lowers the overall blood glucose levels. Examples are Jardiance (empagliflozin), Invokana (canagliflozin), and Farxiga (dapagliflozin).

8. Insulin therapy: Some people with diabetes (both type 1 and sometimes type 2) require insulin therapy when their bodies can’t produce enough insulin. Insulin can be injected with a syringe, insulin pen, or through an insulin pump.

This is an overview of the medications, but the details of each can vary. Always refer to the patient medication guide or consult with a healthcare professional for the most accurate information. Different people may respond differently to each medication based on their specific conditions, tolerance levels, and body’s response.

Prevention of Diabetes

Preventing diabetes, specifically type 2 diabetes, involves making certain changes in lifestyle to remain healthy. Here’s are some tips:

1. Balanced Diet: Eating a balanced diet helps maintain a healthy weight and prevent diabetes. Include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats while avoiding processed foods and drinks high in sugar.

2. Regular Exercise: Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily such as walking, swimming, or cycling. This helps maintain a healthy weight and lowers blood sugar levels.

3. Weight Management: Overweight or obesity significantly increases the risk of developing diabetes. Thus, managing weight through regular exercise and a healthy diet is vital.

4. Regular Check-ups: Regular blood sugar screenings can identify prediabetes — a condition wherein blood sugar levels are higher than normal but still lower than diabetes thresholds. Early identification can motivate lifestyle changes and avoid the progression to type 2 diabetes.

5. Limit Alcohol Intake: Excessive alcohol increases the chance of diabetes by causing weight gain and raising blood pressure. It is advisable to moderate alcohol intake as per guidelines.

6. No to Smoking: Smoking increase the risk of various health concerns, including type 2 diabetes. If you smoke, it is advised to quit to improve overall health and reduce the risk of diabetes.

7. Healthy Sleep Pattern: Lack of sleep or irregular sleep patterns can increase the risk of insulin resistance and thus diabetes. Aiming for consistent and adequate sleep helps maintain overall health.

Remember, it’s always better to work with a healthcare professional to develop a comprehensive preventative plan tailored to your individual health needs as these are general guidelines and may not apply in every case.

FAQ’s about Diabetes

Diabetes is a complex disorder, and there are many frequently asked questions (FAQs) relating to it. Here are some of the most common ones:

1: What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects your body’s ability to process sugar. It occurs when either your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or it can’t use insulin effectively.

2: What are the types of diabetes?
The primary types of diabetes are type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where little or no insulin is produced. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or doesn’t produce enough insulin. Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy.

3: What are symptoms of diabetes?
Common symptoms include frequent urination, intense thirst and hunger, weight gain, unusual weight loss, fatigue, cuts and bruises that do not heal, male sexual dysfunction, numbness and tingling in hands and feet.

4: Who is at risk for diabetes?
Numerous factors increase the risk of diabetes, including being overweight, sedentary lifestyle, family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, certain ethnic groups, and a history of gestational diabetes.

5: How is diabetes diagnosed?
Doctors typically use certain tests like the glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test, fasting glucose test, and oral glucose tolerance test.

6: Can diabetes be cured?
Currently, there is no cure for diabetes, but it can be managed effectively through medication, diet, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle.

7: What are complications associated with diabetes?
If not properly managed, diabetes can lead to serious complications such as heart disease, nerve damage, kidney damage, eye damage, foot damage, skin and mouth conditions, and complications with pregnancy.

8: Can diabetes be prevented?
While you can’t prevent type 1 diabetes, lifestyle changes like maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, and regular exercise can help prevent type 2 diabetes.

These are just a few FAQs about diabetes, consult with a healthcare provider for more detailed information.

Useful links

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas is no longer able to make insulin, or when the body cannot make good use of the insulin it produces. This leads to raised glucose levels in the blood which can cause serious damage to the body’s systems over time.

Below are links to some scholarly journals offering valuable information on diabetes:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34238458/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32741486/

Remember, it’s crucial to talk to healthcare professionals before making any decisions based on the research done in these journals.

Complications of Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic condition that can lead to a number of serious complications if not managed well. Here are some of the most common ones:

1. Cardiovascular Disease: Diabetes significantly increases the risk of various cardiovascular problems, including coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke, narrowing of arteries (atherosclerosis), and high blood pressure.

2. Nerve Damage (Neuropathy): Excess sugar can injure the walls of the tiny blood vessels that nourish your nerves, especially in the legs. It can cause tingling, numbness, burning or pain that starts at the tips of the toes or fingers and gradually spreads upward.

3. Kidney Damage (Nephropathy): Diabetes can damage the delicate filtering system of the kidneys, leading to kidney failure or irreversible end-stage kidney disease.

4. Eye Damage (Retinopathy): Diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the retina, potentially leading to blindness. Diabetes also increases the risk of other serious vision conditions, such as cataracts and glaucoma.

5. Foot Damage: Nerve damage in the feet or poor blood flow to the feet leads to various foot complications. Left untreated, cuts and blisters can become serious infections, which may heal poorly and require toe, foot or leg amputation.

6. Skin and Mouth Conditions: Diabetes may leave you more susceptible to skin problems, including bacterial and fungal infections. Gum infections also may be a concern.

7. Hearing Impairment: Hearing problems are more common in people with diabetes.

8. Alzheimer’s Disease: Type 2 diabetes may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The stronger the link, the worse the blood sugar control.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, regular checkups, and strict adherence to the medication regime can help manage these complications.

Home remedies of Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes often involves lifestyle factors and can be managed with some home remedies alongside professional medical guidance. It’s important to note that since diabetes is a serious condition, always consult a healthcare professional before implementing any home remedies:

1. Regular Exercise: Regular exercise can help reduce your blood sugar level and increase your body’s insulin sensitivity.

2. Healthy Diet: A diet rich in fiber, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins can help manage blood sugar levels. This includes whole grains, beans, lean meats, and low-fat dairy.

3. Limit Sugar and Refined Carbs: Consuming a lot of sugars and refined carbs can cause an increase in your blood sugar.

Refined sugar

4. Portion Control: Portion control is critical in management. Even healthy foods can lead to blood sugar spikes if eaten in large volumes.

5. Staying Hydrated: Drinking sufficient water may help keep your blood sugar levels within healthy limits.

6. Apple Cider Vinegar: Having a bit of apple cider vinegar before bed can also help lower morning glucose levels.

7. Cinnamon: Cinnamon might help reduce blood sugar levels and combat insulin resistance.

8. Regular Check-up: Regularly keep tabs on your blood sugar level.

9. Sleep Well and Avoid Stress: Lack of sleep and high-stress levels can affect your blood sugar levels.

10. Try Intermittent Fasting: With a doctor’s guidance, intermittent fasting can improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels.

However, these natural treatments are intended to supplement, not replace, traditional methods of treatment for diabetes. Let your doctor know about any herbs or supplements you’re considering taking, as some may interact with prescribed medications.

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Last Update: December 29, 2023