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Diabetes is a metabolic disease in which the blood sugar or the blood glucose level exceeds the normal range, either because of inadequate insulin production or because the body cells stop responding properly to insulin, or both. There are various signs and symptoms of diabetes. It is a chronic condition and affects the body’s ability to utilize energy in food. There are three types of diabetes,
• Type 1 diabetes
• Type 2 diabetes
• Gestational diabetes
Causes of Diabetes
Insulin is a hormone circulating in the body, enables the sugar to enter the cells, thus lowering the amount of sugar in the bloodstream.
The pancreas secretes insulin, and the secretion is regulated by the presence of sugar in the blood. As the blood sugar level drops the secretion of insulin also slows down and vice-versa.
In type 1 diabetes the immune system, which normally is known to fight the harmful virus or bacteria in the body, attacks the pancreas and destroys the insulin-producing cells, thus affecting the production of insulin. This leads to a high sugar level in the blood as it cannot be transported to the cells. This autoimmune condition can be a result of genetic susceptibility or environmental factors. The exact cause is unknown.
The cause of type 2 diabetes is resistance if the cells to the action of insulin or inability of the pancreas to produce much insulin needed by the body. The sugar thus builds up in the bloodstream instead of moving into the cells. Along with the genetic and environmental factors, being overweight is strongly linked to the development of type 2 diabetes.
Gestational diabetes occurs as the pregnancy hormone makes the cells of the body insulin resistant. Normally the pancreas produces enough insulin to overcome this resistance but in some individuals is not able to keep up. This leads to raised blood glucose levels as too little glucose get into the cells.
Risk factors of Diabetes
• Age: increase in age increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes occurs in the younger age group. Getting pregnant at an older age increase the chances of gestational diabetes.
• Family history: if the parent or siblings suffer from diabetes (type 1, type 2 or gestational), the chances of you getting it, increase.
• Diseases of the pancreas: this slows down the production of the insulin thus increasing diabetes risk.
• Obesity: this is a major risk factor associated with type 2 diabetes. Being overweight during pregnancy can lead to gestational diabetes.
• Impaired glucose tolerance: this is a pre-diabetic state, but it presents a strong chance of you getting type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes.
• Gestational diabetes: if you suffer from gestational diabetes there are increased chances of you getting type 2 diabetes at a later age in life.
• Polycystic ovarian syndrome: women suffering from PCOS are at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
10 Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes
1. Frequent urination:
it is another way of excreting excess glucose from the body. Excessive glucose in the blood leads to an increased desire to urinate. If the insulin activity is low or there is less insulin to perform its function, the glucose remains in the blood. The kidneys cannot filter glucose back into blood but take water from the blood to dilute it. This leads to a full bladder, and an increased urge to urinate.
2. Increased thirst:
Excessive urination leads to dehydration because sugar takes away a large amount of water out of the body. There is an increased desire to drink water as you need to replace the loss of fluid because of increased in urine frequency.
3. Increased hunger:
Normally the body secretes more insulin if there is excessive glucose in the body. In diabetics the cells of the body are not able to get glucose or the energy required due to the lack of insulin or insulin resistance. As the cells of the body are not getting glucose or the energy as the insulin is not working properly, the body reacts by finding more energy or food. This makes you hungry.
4. Weight gain:
This symptom is a result of the excessive food intake. Due to increased hunger, the patient tends to eat more fatty and filling food frequently, which in turn increase the daily calorie intake, making them gain weight.
5. Weight loss:
This symptom is more common in type 1 diabetes. As the body is insulin deficient, it seeks out another source of energy. This leads to breaking down of muscles, tissues and fat. Losing sugar and water in urine also contributes to weight loss.
Due to insulin inactivity, glucose (which is a source of energy) will not enter the cells. this inability to utilize glucose in diabetics makes the body switch over to metabolizing fat as a fuel source. this process leads to more loss of energy leaving the patient fatigued.
7. Numbness and tingling in feet and hands:
Excessive sugar in the body leads to damage to the nerves and tiny blood vessels. This is a cause behind numbness and tingling in extremities in diabetics.
8. Skin and yeast infections:
Excessive sugar in the blood affects its ability to recover from infection. High sugar level alters the functioning of the white blood cells, which are necessary to fight against any kind of infection. Also long-standing diabetes leads to thickening of blood vessels which interferes with the circulation of blood leading to lack of oxygen and nutrient supply to the body. All this leads to extended healing time as the immune system weakens.
9. Swollen and bleeding gums:
Tender, red and swollen gum is a sign of diabetes. Teeth become loose and gums pull away. It happens because diabetes leads to low white blood cells count, which is necessary to fight bacteria. The germs in the mouth thus weaken the gums leading to infection and bleeding.
10. Sexual dysfunction:
If you are at 50 plus age and experiencing sexual dysfunction, it could be a symptom of diabetes. this is a result of disturbed neurological functioning (damage to the nerves and blood vessels) due to diabetes.
Diagnosis of Diabetes
Urine test: it is done to detect the presence of glucose in urine.
Blood test: this test confirms the presence of glucose in blood if your symptoms are pointing toward diabetes.
Depending on the type of diabetes you are suffering from, frequent blood sugar monitoring, insulin, and oral medication play a major role in treatment. Along with the above, maintaining a healthy weight and physical activity also are the important factors.
Medications of Diabetes
Medications used in diabetes aim to stimulate the pancreas to produce and release more insulin. Medications are also given to inhibit the production and release of glucose from the liver, which in turn limits the need for insulin for its absorption.
There are certain medications which help in blocking the action of the stomach and intestinal enzymes to break down carbohydrates or make the tissues insulin sensitive. Metformin, Glucophage, Glumetza and other are few medications prescribed for diabetes.
Various alternative treatments and home remedies are also available, which help to a great extent in diabetes treatment.
Below are listed few home remedies which prove to be very effective in controlling blood sugar levels.
1. Bitter gourd: known for its blood glucose lowering effects bitter gourd can be very helpful in keeping a control on the sugar levels.
• Drink bitter gourd juice every morning empty stomach for at least 2months.
• Bitter gourd can also be cooked and consumed in any meal.
2. Cinnamon: powdered cinnamon lowers blood sugar by stimulating insulin activity. The bioactive component in it helps in preventing diabetes.
• One teaspoon of cinnamon in a cup of warm water can be consumed daily to control diabetes.
• Cinnamon can be added to beverages to reap benefits.
It should be noted not to consume it in excessive quantity as it can lead to liver damage.
3. Fenugreek: the hypoglycemic activity in fenugreek helps in improving the glucose tolerance and lowering the blood sugar levels.
• Soak 2 tablespoons of fenugreek in water overnight and consume it the next day along with the seeds.
• Two tablespoons of fenugreek seeds powder can be consumed with milk daily to control blood sugar.
4. Amla: along with being a good source of vitamin C, amla promotes proper functioning of the pancreas.
• Take two amlas and remove the seeds and grind it. Squeeze out the juice and mix two tablespoons of juice with one cup of water. Drink it every day empty stomach.
• Mix one tablespoon of amla juice and one tablespoon of bitter gourd juice and drink it daily to bring down glucose level.
5. Black plum or jambul: any part of jambuls such as leaves, berries or seeds can be used by diabetics to control blood sugar levels.
Whenever this seasonal fruit is available include it in your diet to reap benefits.
Always monitor your sugar level and if any of the above signs or symptoms are noticed never delay to consult a doctor to start the treatment.