Diabetes Mellitus, commonly just referred to as Diabetes, is a chronic medical condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It used to be prevalent in middle age (age 40- 60), but nowadays it has encroached on the youth.
Diabetes is a condition where the body is unable to use glucose properly, leading to high levels of sugar in the blood.
In this article, we will provide a comprehensive overview of Diabetes Mellitus, including its types, causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention.
Types of Diabetes Mellitus:
There are three main types of diabetes i.e Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes. The other two less common types are Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young (MODY) and Type 3 diabetes mellitus (Secondary diabetes).
1. Type 1 Diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes, also called insulin-dependent or juvenile-onset diabetes, is a condition where the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. The body is therefore unable to produce insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels.
The age of onset of this is mainly below 10 years.People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin injections or use insulin pumps to manage their blood sugar levels.
2. Type 2 Diabetes:
This is a condition where the body is unable to use insulin properly, leading to insulin resistance. Although the insulin levels may be normal, it may still be inadequate to overcome the resistance by the body tissues and the blood glucose rises.
It is the most common type of diabetes. The typical age of onset is 30 years. It has a high degree of genetic predisposition. In the recent years, the prevalence of type 2 Diabetes has increased among youth below 30 years.
Predisposition to this type of diabetes could be enhanced by factors such as obesity, stress, high fat and sugar diet, being black, physical inactivity and hypertension.
Treatment for type 2 diabetes include lifestyle modifications such as exercise and diet, and oral medications such as metformin, sulphonylureas, glitazones and DPP4 inhibitors.
3. Gestational Diabetes:
It is also called type 4 diabetes mellitus. It mainly develops in the last trimester of pregnancy, in women that have never had diabetes before. It however goes away after the baby is born.
Women with gestational diabetes are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. It’s associated with the placental hormones that cause insulin resistance.
4.Secondary diabetes (Type 3 diabetes):
This one is associated with medication drugs that tend to increase blood glucose levels. For example oral contraceptives, Antiretroviral drugs and diuretics.
Symptoms of Diabetes
The symptoms can vary depending on the type and severity of the condition.
The most common symptoms include:
- Frequent urination
- Increased thirst and excessive water intake
- Excessive hunger
- Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet
- Delayed wound healing
- Recurrent infections
Prevention of Diabetes
Diabetes, in as much as it has debilitating consequences, is preventable. It is possible to prevent it from occurring or delay its onset.
Routine preventive measures include:
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Being overweight or obese is one of the biggest risk factors for diabetes. If you are overweight, losing just 5-10% of your body weight can greatly reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
- This can be done through maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise.
- A healthy diet consists of whole grains (with a low glycemic index), lean proteins and vegetables.
- Exercise Regularly
- Regular physical activity can help prevent diabetes. Exercise helps to maintain a healthy weight, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, cycling or swimming, around five days a week.
- Avoid Processed Foods
- Processed foods such as fast food, sugary drinks and snacks are high in calories and sugar. These foods can enhance weight gain, insulin resistance and an increased risk of developing diabetes.
- Instead, opt for whole-unprocessed foods such as fruits, whole grains and lean protein.
- Limit Your Alcohol Intake
- Drinking too much alcohol can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, and an increased risk of diabetes.
- If you must drink alcohol, limit your intake to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
- Get Enough Sleep
- Lack of sleep can lead to weight gain, insulin resistance and an increased risk of developing diabetes.
- It is crucial to get enough sleep each night as it allows rejuvenation of the body. Aim for at least 7 hours of sleep per night.
In conclusion, Diabetes is a chronic disease that can lead to debilitating complications if not detected early and adequately managed. It is our collective responsibility to check the tell-tale signs of it and control its spread.
The aforementioned preventive and treatment measures can go a long way in combating this chronic disease and improving our overall health and well-being.