Diabetes is a disorder that affects the way our body uses blood glucose (blood sugar). Glucose supplies the body with much needed energy in the cells that make up our muscles and tissues, and is also our brain’s main source of fuel. It is vital to your health because it’s an important source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues. Glucose is also the brain’s primary source of fuel. When there is excess sugar in the blood or not enough, this can lead to various complications and potentially serious health consequences.
- Prediabetes: At this stage, a person may have elevated blood sugar levels, but not high enough to classify as diabetes. This is a reversible stage that can be treated with adjustments in diet and lifestyle.
- Type 1 – Is a rarer form a diabetes where the body does not produce insulin. After the body breaks down the carbs and sugars into blood glucose, insulin is secreted from the pancreas to transport glucose from the bloodstream into the cells for energy. Without enough insulin production, blood sugar levels remain elevated.
- Type 2 – Is the most common form of diabetes the body does not utilize or produce insulin efficiently. This also keeps blood sugar levels higher than normal.
- Gestational diabetes – Occurs during pregnancy but may resolve after delivery.
Common symptoms of diabetes include:
- Persistent thirst
- A frequent urge to urinate
- Unexplained weight loss
- Persistent hunger/An inability to feel full
- Blurred vision
- Frequent infections
- Numbness or tingling in the feet
Risks: Untreated or poorly treated diabetes can cause serious complications and increase your risk of:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Kidney damage
- Eye/vision damage
- Nerve damage
- Poor circulation to the extremities (the feet in particular)
- Bacterial and fungal infections
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Preeclampsia and Low Blood Sugar (in expectant mothers and infants)
Causes: As for type 1 diabetes, diet and lifestyle does not seem to be a contributing factor like it is in type 2 and prediabetes. Researchers believe that type 1 diabetes might be due to genetic factors, viral illnesses, certain antibodies present in the immune system, and location. Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes is largely brought about by a number of lifestyle factors such as weight, a high-sugar or high-carbohydrate diet, high blood pressure levels, high triglycerides, and a lack of exercise. Other non-lifestyle factors have been linked to an increased risk of diabetes development such as age, race, socio-economic status, and family history.
Treatment: Tests for type 1 and type 2 diabetes exist: A1C testing can be completed without prior fasting and can check your average blood sugar level over the past two to three months. An A1C score below 5.7 is considered normal, 5.7 – 6.4 indicates prediabetes and 6.5 and up indicates either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. A random blood sugar test, fasting blood sugar test or oral glucose tolerance test can be recommended by your doctor if the A1C results are inconsistent.
If diabetes is found, your doctor will prescribe a blood sugar testing kit to monitor your blood sugar levels throughout the day. Careful monitoring will be needed before meals, after meals and in-between to ensure that blood sugar levels are stabilized. Since levels can jump up or go very low unpredictably, diabetic patients might feel dizzy, nauseated, or weak if levels are outside of the normal range. Much consultation will need to take place with a doctor to help manage blood sugar. Insulin therapy may be necessary in order to maintain normal blood sugar levels. Insulin is injected using a needle pin or syringe and is often injected after meals to reduce blood sugar spikes.