Diabetes is a serious case today affecting lives, economies, and nations alike with its disastrous effects being untold.
According to ABC Diabetes, an estimated 300 million people will be affected with diabetes globally by 2025.
Diabetes can also be known as high blood sugar or glucose in the blood. I aim to quickly establish what diabetes mean and why different symptoms arise. After this, then I discuss treatment. It should be noted that this is just researched information and you should see your doctor is you recognise some symptoms discussed in this post. To not take this as health advice as this is not what this post sets out to do. To reiterate, please consult the services of a doctor.
After learning about diabetes, I can tell you that there are two types; type 1 and 2.
Type 1 diabetes is where your B cells of the pancreas that manufacture insulin in your body are defective and non-functional. There are other cells in the pancreas that serve other functions. Insulin is important as they sense glucose and stimulate it absorption. Glucose is gotten from carbohydrates when eaten. You should understand that insulin is a hormone and stored in the liver. T1D can be due to autoimmune disease but sometimes, causes are not known. Also referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus or IDDM.
Type 2 diabetes, previously known as non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus or NIDDM is when B cells of the pancreas are present but they fail to produce enough insulin to sense glucose in the body or if insulin resistance is present. Normally happens due to lifestyle. This is more common T1D and affects a lot of young people.
Both of these scenarios are deadly as your body needs glucose to manufacture ATP which is used for work. If energy levels are high in the body, then glucose is present and already broken down. Therefore, it will be futile if your body keeps breaking down glucose. Hence, it needs to store glucose and save it for later use.
In affected person, the body fails to sense glucose. Hence, glucose is not reabsorbed into cells. The body goes to a state of trying to get energy from somewhere. You need to know that glucose is the major source of energy and only fats can provide more energy than carbohydrate.
Recognising diabetes symptoms:
- low energy
- frequent urination
- feeling very thirsty
- never being filled
- affected vision
- weight loss
Explanations why these symptoms occur
- Low energy: to simply put it in an understandable way, your cells lack energy which is gotten from the conversion of glucose to ATP. When glucose is not absorbed into these cells, then you feel weak even though you eat. Before glucose is passed to these cells, they are first sent to the blood. The resultant effect of not absorbing glucose is sugar overload. Hence, your doctor’s say you have high blood sugar
- Frequent urination: the excess blood sugar must be reduced to maintain your body electrolytes and other functions. Hence, this excess is sent to the urine. This acts to increase the osmolarity or simply put, concentration of urine. This is called hyperglycaemia meaning high glucose. Due to the action of osmosis, water follows immediately resulting in frequent urination. In type 2 diabetes, your urine is sugary and might attract ants which was one of the ways it was detected in the past. A normal person might urinate four to seven times but a diabetic is usually a lot more
- Feeling very thirsty: you might consume water as a result of excess water lost via osmosis to the urine. Thirst is stimulated to help you maintain the right volume.
- Never being filled: you eat but are never satisfied as your body tells you there is no energy and need to eat food.
- Tiredness: as a result of no energy, you feel very tired and you cannot do any meaningful work. This can be very bad as it brings great toil on people and on the economy as a whole
- Affected vision: changes in fluid levels affect the way the lenses in your eyes focus on objects to bring about accurate vision
- Weight loss: remember I told you about your body getting to a state where it needs to draw energy from other sources. Well, this is the reason why. Your body turns to fat then to protein to supply its energy requirements. This leads to loss of body weight and you are sometimes left to wonder what is happening to you.
- Injuries take long to heal: this might be due to the effect of excess sugar affecting the way blood clots.
Also arising from diabetes are renal failure and stroke, cardiovascular diseases, amputations, morbidity, and premature mortality. These are when diabetes is left untreated and worsens. As a result, the person is left worse off. Don’t let this happen to people close to you. Let them know about this post so they can identify diabetes very early with the help of their doctor.
- A change in nutrition is needed and make sure you control your diet. According to WHO, unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity are the leading global risks to health. They recommend health dietary practises early in life as it encourages growth and development of a child. From my research and according to WHO’s website, energy intake should try and balance expenditure and fat should not surpass 30% of total energy to prevent people putting on weight. Also, limiting free sugars to at most 10% of total energy constitutes a healthy diet (1).
- Adults have a different requirements than kids and a healthy diet should include fruits, vegetables, legumes such as beans, nuts and whole grains (brown rice, wheat, etc.) Free sugars as highlighted earlier should be at most 10% of total energy and this is equivalent to 50g or 12 teaspoons.
- Try to maintain an active lifestyle balanced with food but seek the services of a doctor. It may interest you to know that according to WHO, 1 in 4 adults are not active enough.
- Check your blood glucose levels periodically and there are handheld devices you can purchase online or in stores near you that measures your glucose level. In trying to control your blood sugar, make sure you don’t go into a state of hypoglycaemia (shakiness, anxiety, feeling cold, sweating, headache, numbness etc.)
- For T1D, since the beta cells are destroyed, they can be replaced through a pancreas transplant. For diet, food low in fat, salt are ideal as well as fruits and vegetables. This diet change also applies to T2D.
- Medications given in the hospital
You should understand that there are risk factors associated with diabetes whether it is type 1 or 2. These include age, ethnicity, family history of diabetes, cardiovascular problems etc.
I feel I have educated you enough on diabetes and why people affected experience what they experience. I want to stress that you need to see a doctor and a nutritionist if you are affected to better plan your lifestyle and diet to help you cope with diabetes.
But before I go, I feel it is necessary I talk about the 10 facts aboout diabetes as highlighted by WHO which I found during my research. They are:
- An estimated 347 million people worldwide have diabetes: this can be traced to overweight, obesity and physical inactivity
- Predicted to become the 7th leading cause of death in the world by 2030: current number is projected to rise by more than 50% in the next ten years
- Two major forms: T1D and T2D
- Gestational diabetes is the third type: occurs during pregnancy
- T2D much more common than T1D with T2D accounting for around 90% of global diabetes
- Cardiovascular disease is responsible for between 50% and 80% of deaths in people with diabetes
- In 2012, diabetes led to 1.5 million deaths directly
- An overwhelming 80% of deaths due to diabetes happen in low- and middle-income countries
- A leading cause of blindness, amputation and kidney failure.
- Type 2 diabetes can be prevented with 30 minutes of moderate-intense physical activity and T1D cannot be prevented. A healthy diet reduces risk of developing T2D
Until next post, see you and make time out to exercise this week even if it is taking a walk.