What exactly is diabetes? What types do we know and what can we do about it –this is what this article is all about
WHAT IS DIABETES?
Diabetes is essentially all about blood sugar control.
Normally our blood sugar levels are all within a certain range between 3.5 mmol/L and 8 mmol/L depending on whether we are fasting or have just eaten. We have a delicate balance of blood sugar, controlled by a number of different hormones, the most important of which is Insulin.
We speak about Diabetes when the blood sugar goes above the normal reference ranges on a continuous basis.
What happens when the blood sugar is higher then normal?
It tends to stick to certain proteins in the body and leads to the symptoms & signs of diabetes, and eventually to complications if not managed adequately.
Common symptoms a person may get are:
- feeling thirsty
- excessive hunger
- passing a lot of urine
- feeling tired
- Poor vision.
A simple blood finger prick test can confirm this diagnosis when these symptoms are present, and the treatment is relatively straight forward.
We can distinguish two types of Diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2.
Type 1 Diabetes:
Occurs more often in younger people, before the age of forty, and needs Insulin replacement therapy from the onset, without which the affected person would actually die.
Type 2 Diabetes:
Occurs more often as we get older, above the age of forty, though it is now found in much younger people who are Obese.
Type 2 diabetes mostly does not require Insulin, at least at the onset and can be managed with diet, exercise and oral medication.
Who is at risk of getting Diabetes?
We all are, if we live long enough!
However, it is more common in people who have a family history of Diabetes; this is especially true of the Type 2 Diabetes. The cells that produce Insulin tend to fatigue faster and produce less as we grow older, hence the higher risk with age. This is genetically mediated; hence little we can do about it.
Though we can’t do much about our genes, we can modify our environment- our personal life style and diet.
Aiming for ideal weight and regular exercise are part of this programme. We need to exercise practically daily, for about 30 to 45 minutes, and just walking can make a big difference!
If you have a family history of Diabetes and you are overweight, you have a higher chance of developing Diabetes as you get older. So take up the challenge and modify your life style!
Just eating the right foods, regular exercise and loosing weight can delay the onset of Diabetes for a number of years! If you are already Diabetic, doing the same things will improve your sugar control, meaning less medication and less complications in the long run.
Good sugar control means better quality of life for many more years!