The Best Diabetes Guide of 2022 – Symptoms, Causes, Risks & Treatments

Diabetes by Perfect Health Magazine

Diabetes - Quick 30 Seconds Summary

  • Diabetes is a chronic medical condition where the blood sugar is high in the patient since the insulin in the body is not sufficient or properly utilised. 
  • Approximately 537 million adults in the age group of 20-79, globally are living with diabetes, as per the International Diabetes Federation.
  • There are three types of Diabetes – Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational Diabetes
  • Diabetes can be treated and managed using oral medication, insulin pumps and injections and changes in lifestyle. 
  • Risks associated with diabetes include heart diseases, organ failure, kidney deterioration etc.

Diabetes - Introduction, Meaning & Overview

Diabetes is a serious chronic condition where there is excess blood sugar or blood glucose in your body. According to the International Diabetes Federation, approximately 537 million adults in the age group of 20-79, globally are living with diabetes. 

What is Diabetes? 

Let us understand the basics first. The pancreas is in charge of making the hormone called insulin. Insulin’s job is to take the glucose available in our bloodstream and pass it into every cell in the body. Glucose comes from the food that is consumed by us. 

Diabetes is a medical condition where the pancreas can no longer produce sufficient insulin or in extreme cases no insulin at all. When the pancreas does not make enough insulin, then the glucose in the bloodstream which was supposed to reach the cells continues to remain in the blood leading to an excess of blood glucose in the body. 

Excess blood glucose can cause serious damage to the patient if left untreated. High blood sugar has been known to cause kidney disease, vision loss, heart disease and organ failures. 

Unfortunately, there is no cure for diabetes nor is there any reversal to this disorder. The patients can only manage it with medication and a healthy lifestyle throughout their lives.

Types of Diabetes

Primarily there are three types of diabetes:

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is commonly seen in children and adolescents rather than adults. Although it is not entirely impossible for adults to have Type 1 Diabetes. Under this type, the body produces small quantities of insulin or zero insulin. People suffering from Type 1 need insulin injections regularly to maintain a healthy blood glucose level.

Type 2 Diabetes

This type of diabetes is seen in 90% of the diabetic patients in the world. In Type 2 Diabetes the insulin quantity is insufficient or it is not utilised properly by the body. Adults generally suffer from Type 2. Oral medication and a healthy lifestyle can control blood sugar efficiently.

Gestetional Diabetes (GDM)

Pregnant women may find increased blood glucose levels during their pregnancy. Mostly, gestational diabetes vanishes from the woman’s body after childbirth. However, both the mother and child should be on guard since GDM later manifests as Type 2 Diabetes in the future.

Symptoms of Diabetes

First off let’s see the generic symptoms of diabetes and then move to specific symptoms for Type 1, 2 and GDM. 

The American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC (in short) has given the following common symptoms of Diabetes: 

  • Feeling hungrier than usual while there is no change in physical activity levels or lifestyle. 
  • Getting tired more easily without a justifiable reason to it. 
  • Unquenching thirst accompanied by extra rounds to the loo.
  • Vision gets blurred 
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Either numb tips of toes or fingers or tingling sensation at tips of toes and fingers. 
  • Dry skin
  • Contracts infections more easily than usual
  • Cuts and sores take a longer time to heal. 

These types of symptoms will be seen in all three types of diabetics. 

Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms: 

Additionally, if someone has Typer 1 Diabetes they may have bouts of vomitting, and nausea accompanied by drastic weight loss. 

Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms: 

Patients in this category will see either or all of the above-listed symptoms in the general category. Type 2 Diabetes is a slow killer, hence it may take months or years for all of these symptoms to manifest in the person. 

Gestational Diabetes Symptoms: 

There are no visible symptoms for this type. It is best to get a blood sugar test done during the pregnancy to know whether or not GDM is there in the body.

When To See A Doctor For Diabetes

In case you experience or observe any of the above-mentioned symptoms in yourself or your loved one, then get in touch with a qualified General Physician immediately. Diabetes is a chronic health issue and must be treated with seriousness. However, if you don’t have any of the above-mentioned symptoms but Diabetes runs in your family then get your blood sugar levels tested every year just to be safe.

Diagnosis of Diabetes

Diabetes is diagnosed by medical professionals based on the following standard blood tests which determine blood sugar levels in the body: 

  1. Fasting Plasma Glucose Test (This requires the patient to fast for at least 8 hours before the test) 
  2. Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (8 hours of fasting plus 2 hours after drinking a glucose drink) 
  3. Random Plasma Glucose Test (No fasting required, testing is done at random)
  4. Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) Test (No fasting required and blood sugar average for the past 2-3 months is shown) 

The results of these results and the glucose range displayed to determine whether the patient is diabetic or not:

1. Fasting Plasma Glucose Test

Plasma Glucose Result (mg/dL)

Diagnosis

99 & below

Normal

100 to 125

Prediabetes
(impaired glucose tolerance)

126 & above

Diabetes*

*Confirmed by repeating the test on a different day.

2. Oral Glucose Tolerance Test

Plasma Glucose Result (mg/dL)

Diagnosis

139 & below

Normal

140 to 199

Prediabetes
(impaired glucose tolerance)

200 & above

Diabetes*

*Confirmed by repeating the test on a different day.

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3. Random Plasma Glucose Test

If the blood glucose levels are above 200 mg/dL then the candidate may have diabetes. Fasting Plasma Glucose Test is recommended for coming to the right conclusion.

4. HbA1c Test

Diagnosis

Percentage

Normal

Below 5.7%

Prediabetes

5.7% to 6.4%

Diabetes

6.5% & above

Causes of Diabetes

The main causes of Type 1 Diabetes are: 

When the immune system destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the body, the pancreas is unable to produce insulin and this causes Type 1 Diabetes. 

Other factors that may cause Type 1 Diabetes include genetic composition, environmental factors and other viruses that may trigger this response from the body. 

The main causes of Type 2 Diabetes are 

  • Obesity and sedentary lifestyle 
  • Genetics and family history of diabetes
  • Insulin resistance (a condition where the insulin in the body is not utilised properly)

Other causes of diabetes are 

  • Removal of the pancreas 
  • Genetic mutation 
  • Strong medication given to treat or manage other health conditions 
  • Hormonal disorders that trigger imbalance in creation and utilisation of insulin

Risks and Complications Associated With Diabetes

High blood sugar is a dangerous and chronic medical condition. There are many serious risks involved if this condition is left untreated. 

Following is a list of complications associated with Diabetes 

  • heart disease, heart attack and stroke
  • Neuropathy – dysfunction of one or more peripheral nerves
  • Nephropathy – deterioration of the kidneys
  • retinopathy (impairment of retina) and vision loss
  • hearing loss
  • foot damage such as infections and sores that don’t heal
  • skin conditions such as bacterial and fungal infections
  • depression
  • dementia

In case of Gestational Diabetes these are the complications to watch out for: 

  • low blood glusoce levels
  • jaundice
  • Stillborn baby
  • Prematurely born baby
  • higher-than-normal weight at birth
  • increased risk for type 2 diabetes later in life for both mother and baby

As you can see diabetes in any form can lead to serious health issues and hence must be proactively treated and managed throughout the patient’s life. If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with diabetes then please make sure that he/she follows her treatments meticulously.

Treatment for Diabetes

Treatment plans for diabetes are prescribed by qualified doctors and medical experts. The treatment plan is uniquely designed based on the case of the patient. 

Medication 

All types of diabetes need oral medication to control the insulin levels. The medicines and the correct dosage is prescribed by the qualified doctor who is in charge of your case. Metformin, Glumetza, Fortamet etc. are some of the most common diabetes drugs given to patients. 

Insulin 

Type 1 Diabetics need to take insulin via pumps or injections regularly every few hours since their body does not produce any insulin at all. Pumps or injections are available in medical stores which have to be used as per the prescription given by the doctor.  

Changes in lifestyle 

The most important aspect of managing diabetes is changing your lifestyle. Incorporate lots of physical activities into your routine. Keep your weight in check, monitor blood sugar levels regularly and eat a healthy diet.

Diabetes - Concluding Remarks

Diabetes is a chronic medical condition that should be managed and monitored for the patient’s lifetime. Finding a good doctor and following his/her instructions carefully is essential in this case. Medication, exercise and diet is key to conquering diabetes!