With the growing number of people affected worldwide, now is the right time to inform the public about all the key facts to know about diabetes. The complexity of this condition and the possible consequences if it is not managed properly highlight the need for diabetes education.
Definition of Diabetes
What is diabetes? It is a condition wherein the body is not able to store and use glucose properly. Because of this, glucose goes back to the bloodstream, elevating the blood sugar levels in the body.
The 2 primary types of diabetes are type 1 (insulin-dependent) and type 2 (non-insulin-dependent). In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas stops producing insulin completely. Regular insulin injections are necessary.
In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas’ insulin production is not enough, or the body developed a resistance to insulin. Diet, exercise, and oral hypoglycemic drugs all combine to keep blood sugar levels in check.
What Are The Symptoms of Diabetes?
Before we enumerate the symptoms, it is important to take note that some people who have diabetes do not notice any symptoms, until the illness progresses to an advanced state. But if you experience the following, it is advised that you consult a doctor.
• Frequent urination
• Constant thirst
• Blurred vision
• Unexplained tiredness or fatigue
• Gum, bladder, or skin infections
• Slow-healing wounds
• Weight loss
• Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
• Always hungry
Risk Factors for Diabetes
Family history – Your risk of developing the condition increases (compared to non-diabetics) if you have a parent or sibling who has diabetes. For type 1 diabetes, you have a 10 % chance of acquiring the disease if your father has it. If your mother is the one who has it, you have a 4 % chance if she was 25 or below when you were born, and 1 % if she was over that age.
In the case of type 2 diabetes, if both your father and mother have diabetes, you have a 50% risk of having it. You have a 14 % chance of inheriting it if one of your parents had it before the age of 50, and 8 % if over that age.
Age – The usual age when type 1 diabetes appears is from 10 to 16, although it can still turn up at the age of 35. On the other hand, type 2 diabetes usually appears at the age of 40 and above.
Weight – A vast majority of people who have type 2 diabetes are overweight. The more body fat you have, the more it is likely that you will develop insulin resistance. Individuals who have large waistlines also have a higher risk of having the illness.
Sedentary lifestyle – People who are not active, confined to a stationary position for extended periods, and those who do not exercise have a higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes. Physical activity helps the body regulate blood sugar levels.
Race – For reasons not yet clear, African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Asian Americans carry a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Key Facts to Know About Diabetes
1. Of the two types of diabetes, type 2 is much more common, comprising 95 % of all cases of diabetes. Type 1 diabetics comprise only 5 % of the total number of people who have diabetes.
2. An individual who is overweight (BMI higher than 25) has a greater chance of acquiring type 2 diabetes. Around 85 % of those who have the condition are overweight. Body Mass Index or BMI is a means of measuring body fat based on a person’s height and weight.
To know your BMI, you can browse the internet for the BMI calculator. Just key in your height and weight, and your BMI will appear. The following are the classifications:
• BMI below 18.5 – underweight
• BMI is 18.5 up to 24.99 – normal weight
• BMI is 25 up to 29.99 – overweight
• BMI is 30 up to 34.99 – obesity (class 1)
• BMI is 35 up to 39.99 – obesity (class 2)
• BMI is 40 or higher – morbid obesity
3. Up to one-third of the people with diabetes are not aware that they have the illness. During the early stages, the symptoms are so mild that they are barely noticeable.
4. Diabetes mellitus is the number one cause of blindness in working-age adults. Also, around 28 % of people with diabetes experience retinopathy (damage to the retina).
5. Aside from type 1 and type 2 diabetes, there is another kind of diabetes – gestational diabetes. It is a condition wherein a woman exhibits high blood sugar levels during pregnancy. The good news is that in 90 % of the cases, gestational diabetes clears up or improves significantly after childbirth.
6. Do you know why people with diabetes urinate frequently? Having diabetes means the body has high levels of blood sugar. To get rid of the excess, the body flushes it through urination. If urinating at night already disrupts your sleep, it may be a red flag. Consult your doctor at once.
7. One of the symptoms of diabetes is fatigue. Diabetes disrupts the body’s metabolism – the process wherein the food is converted into energy. If there is an insufficiency in insulin, or there is a resistance to insulin, the glucose does not reach the cells. As a result, the cells are starved of energy, making the person feel tired.
8. Why is foot care so important in people with diabetes? High levels of glucose in the blood mean that wounds will heal more slowly because bacteria will be provided with an environment where they can flourish. In addition, diabetes can lead to poor blood circulation in the feet, making it more susceptible to gangrene and infection.
9. Even if your weight is normal, it does not mean that you will not develop type 2 diabetes. Genetics, autoimmunity, and stress can also increase the risk of acquiring diabetes.
10. It is not only the type 1 diabetics who need insulin injections. In some cases, people with type 2 diabetes also need it, especially if diet, exercise, and antidiabetic drugs fail to keep blood sugar levels in check.
How to Manage Diabetes
Food – Be conscious of your carbohydrate intake. It is better to take several small meals in a day rather than taking three heavy meals. It will help you regulate your blood glucose levels. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Avoid soda drinks and other sweetened beverages.
Exercise – When we exercise, our bodies use sugar for energy. It helps to lower blood glucose levels. A 30-minute exercise routine three to five times a week is beneficial in managing diabetes; it is also good for your cardiovascular health.
Medication – Oral hypoglycemic drugs and insulin injections are designed to lower blood sugar levels of people with diabetes. Make sure that the timing and dosage are correct. Have regular consultations with your doctor.
After our discussion of the key facts to know about diabetes, you are now better informed about the definition, types, symptoms, risk factors, and how to manage diabetes. For people with diabetes, regular blood sugar level monitoring and consultations with a physician are necessary to prevent possible complications.