According to the International Diabetes Federation statistics, there are approximately 50 million diabetics in India. One of the key reasons why this condition has reached epidemic proportions in the country is the lack of awareness about it. Knowing the risk factors and the precautions can help in preventing diabetes and the related conditions. Here is essential information about diabetes that you should know about.
What is Diabetes
- Diabetes is a chronic condition associated with abnormally high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood.
- Insulin produced by the pancreas lowers blood glucose.
- Absence or insufficient production of insulin causes diabetes.
- The two types of diabetes are referred to as Type 1 and Type 2. Also known as insulin-dependent and non-insulin-dependent diabetes, or juvenile onset and adult onset diabetes.
- Symptoms of diabetes include increased urine output, thirst, hunger, and fatigue.
- Diabetes is diagnosed by blood sugar (glucose) testing.
- The major complications of diabetes are both acute and chronic.
- Acute complications: dangerously elevated blood sugar (hyperglycemia), abnormally low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) due to diabetes medications may occur
- Chronic complications: disease of the blood vessels (both small and large) which can damage the feet, eyes, kidneys, nerves, and heart may occur
Types of Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes (used to be called insulin dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes) is diagnosed when the pancreas stops making insulin. It is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the pancreas destroying the cells that make insulin. The pancreas then stops making insulin and the body cannot control the amount of glucose in the blood.
Type 1 diabetes is one of the most common chronic conditions diagnosed in children. It can develop in a child of any age, including infants and toddlers. Type 1 diabetes often develops quickly and the child may have very high, potentially life-threatening, blood glucose levels at diagnosis.
Type 2 diabetes
In Type 2 diabetes (This was called non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus or maturity onset diabetes) the body becomes resistant to insulin, meaning that there is insulin but it is not working very well. If this happens, the body cannot control the amount of glucose in the blood.
Risk factors for developing diabetes
Risk factors for developing Type 1 Diabetes
- Family history- Anyone with a parent or sibling with type 1 diabetes has a slightly increased risk of developing the condition.
- Genetics-The presence of certain genes indicates an increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes
Non-Modifiable Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes
- Family history-If you have a blood relative with diabetes, your risk for developing it is significantly increased
- Age-The older you are, the higher your risk. Generally, type 2 diabetes occurs in middle-aged adults, most frequently after age 45.
- History of gestational diabetes-If you developed diabetes during pregnancy or delivered a baby over 9 lbs., you are at increased risk
Modifiable Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes
- Overweight/obesity-About 50 percent of men and 70 percent of women who have diabetes are obese. If you are 20 percent or more over your optimal body weight, you have a higher risk of developing diabetes
- Physical inactivity-Along with overweight/obesity, physical inactivity ranks among the top modifiable risk factors for pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. By achieving 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or 90 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity or a combination of the two, you can improve your health and minimize risks for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- High blood pressure (hypertension)-Untreated high blood pressure has been linked to the development of diabetes
- Abnormal cholesterol (lipid) levels-Low HDL “bad” cholesterol” and/or high triglycerides can increase the risk for Type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes treatment depends on the type and severity of the diabetes.
- Type 1 diabetes is treated with insulin, exercise, and a diabetic diet.
- Type 2 diabetes is first treated with weight reduction, a diabetic diet, and exercise. When these measures fail to control the elevated blood sugars, oral medications are used. If oral medications are still insufficient, insulin medications and other injectable medications are considered.
Diabetes treatment requires round-the-clock commitment. With careful management and better lifestyle choices, you can reduce the incidence of life-threatening conditions and control diabetes-related complications.