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Diabetes

  • What is Diabetes?

    Diabetes is a chronic condition that involves high blood glucose levels (hyperglycaemia). It occurs when the pancreas loses its ability to produce enough insulin, or when the body does not respond to insulin action. When blood glucose levels increase after we eat, the pancreas produces insulin to help change glucose into energy or store it.

    In people with diabetes, instead of being changed into energy, the glucose remains in the blood, leading to higher than normal blood sugar levels. People with diabetes have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular (heart-related) diseases, because it is often linked with high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and obesity.

    There are 3 main types of diabetes:

    • Type 1 diabetes, also known as insulin-dependent diabetes, occurs when no insulin is produced 
    • Type 2 diabetes, known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes, occurs when insulin has no effect on the body
    • Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) occurs in 2 – 5% of pregnant women not previously diagnosed with diabetes. It is often linked with type 2 diabetes.
  • Type 1 diabetes is caused by the complete lack of insulin in the body, due to the destruction of the pancreatic cells responsible for insulin production. It is the most common cause of childhood diabetes. People with this form of diabetes need daily insulin injections to survive.

    Type 2 diabetes is marked by lowered levels of insulin or the inability of the body to use insulin properly (known as insulin resistance). The beginning of this type of diabetes is usually slow with symptoms generally appearing after the age of 40. Various risk factors can lead to type 2 diabetes including lack of physical activity, an unhealthy diet, and obesity. People with type 2 diabetes often have a family history of the disease.

    Gestational diabetes occurs in 2 – 5% of pregnant women who were not previously diagnosed with diabetes. It usually goes away after giving birth, however it is a sign of increased risk of having type 2 diabetes later in life.

  • The most common symptoms of diabetes are:

    • Blurry vision
    • Constant hunger
    • Extreme thirst, even after drinking plenty of water
    • Feeling tired or weak constantly
    • Frequent urination day and night
    • Irritated and itchy skin around the genitals
    • Numb hands and feet
    • Reduced healing of cuts and wounds
    • Weight loss despite normal appetite
  • Type 1 diabetes treatment includes:

    • Daily insulin injections

     

    Type 2 diabetes treatment mainly includes lifestyle changes to control blood sugar levels:

    • Eat a balanced and healthy diet: avoid food high in fats and cholesterol, eat more fruits and vegetables, and watch sugar consumption
    • Exercise regularly
    • Maintain a healthy weight
    • Oral medications may be prescribed at the later stage of the disease to help control blood sugar levels
    • Bacterial and fungal skin infections and gum infections
    • Foot diseases like numbness, blisters, and gangrene, which may require amputation in severe cases
    • Diseases in heart and blood vessels like coronary heart disease and heart attack
    • Kidney diseases can occur and may need dialysis and kidney transplant
    • Nerve diseases like numbness and pain in legs, toes and fingers, can lead to complete loss of sense in affected limbs
    • Osteoporosis (thinning and weakening of bones)
    • Severe vision complications including cataracts, glaucoma (high pressure in the eye) and eventually blindness
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