Causes Of Diabetes & Common Symptoms To Watch Out For
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), a lack of knowledge about diabetes means that spotting the warning signs is not just a problem for parents, but is an issue impacting a cross-section of society. This is a major concern, due to the signs being milder in type 2 diabetes, the most prevalent form of the condition, responsible for around 90 per cent of all diabetes. One in two people currently living with diabetes are undiagnosed. The vast majority of these have type 2 diabetes.
Left untreated or unmanaged, diabetes can lead to life-changing complication. These include blindness, amputation, kidney failure, heart attack and stroke. Diabetes was responsible for four million deaths in 2017.
This November, IDF is urging people to test their diabetes knowledge and assess their risk of type 2 diabetes.
WHO report on diabetes in Nigeria shows that 425 million people have diabetes in the world and more than 16 million people in the African Region (AFR); by 2045 it will be around 41 million.
Causes Of Diabetes
To understand diabetes, first you must understand how glucose is normally processed in the body.
How insulin works
Insulin is a hormone that comes from a gland situated behind and below the stomach (pancreas).
The pancreas secretes insulin into the bloodstream. The insulin circulates, enabling sugar to enter your cells. Insulin lowers the amount of sugar in your bloodstream. As your blood sugar level drops, so does the secretion of insulin from your pancreas.
The role of glucose
•Glucose a sugar is a source of energy for the cells that make up muscles and other tissues.
•Glucose comes from two major sources: food and your liver.
•Sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream, where it enters cells with the help of insulin.
•Your liver stores and makes glucose.
•When your glucose levels are low, such as when you haven’t eaten in a while, the liver breaks down stored glycogen into glucose to keep your glucose level within a normal range.
Causes of type 1 diabetes
The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown. What is known is that your immune system, which normally fights harmful bacteria or viruses attacks and destroys your insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. This leaves you with little or no insulin. Instead of being transported into your cells, sugar builds up in your bloodstream.
Type 1 is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental factors, though exactly what many of those factors are is still unclear.
Causes of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes
In prediabetes which can lead to type 2 diabetes and in type 2 diabetes, your cells become resistant to the action of insulin, and your pancreas is unable to make enough insulin to overcome this resistance. Instead of moving into your cells where it’s needed for energy, sugar builds up in your bloodstream.
Exactly why this happens is uncertain, although it’s believed that genetic and environmental factors play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes. Being overweight is strongly linked to the development of type 2 diabetes, but not everyone with type 2 is overweight.
Causes of gestational diabetes
During pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones to sustain your pregnancy. These hormones make your cells more resistant to insulin.
Normally, your pancreas responds by producing enough extra insulin to overcome this resistance. But sometimes your pancreas can’t keep up. When this happens, too little glucose gets into your cells and too much stays in your blood, resulting in gestational diabetes.
Signs and symptoms
According to experts, diabetes symptoms vary depending on how much your blood sugar is elevated. Some people, especially those with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, may not experience symptoms initially. In type 1 diabetes, symptoms tend to come on quickly and be more severe.
Some of the signs and symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are: Increased thirst, frequent urination, extreme hunger, unexplained weight loss and presence of ketones in the urine (ketones are a byproduct of the breakdown of muscle and fat that happens when there’s not enough available insulin).
Also, fatigue, irritability, blurred vision, slow-healing sores as well as frequent infections, such as gums or skin infections and vaginal infections.
“Although type 1 diabetes can develop at any age, it typically appears during childhood or adolescence. Type 2 diabetes, the more common type, can develop at any age, though it’s more common in people older than 40.”
Depending on what type of diabetes you have, blood sugar monitoring, insulin and oral medications may play a role in your treatment. Eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and participating in regular activity also are important factors in managing diabetes.
An important part of managing diabetes as well as your overall health is maintaining a healthy weight through a healthy diet and exercise plan:
Contrary to popular perception, there’s no specific diabetes diet. You’ll need to center your diet on more fruits, vegetables and whole grains foods that are high in nutrition and fiber and low in fat and calories and cut down on animal products, refined carbohydrates and sweets. In fact, it’s the best eating plan for the entire family. Sugary foods are okay once in a while, as long as they’re counted as part of your meal plan.
Yet understanding what and how much to eat can be a challenge. A registered dietitian can help you create a meal plan that fits your health goals, food preferences and lifestyle. This will likely include carbohydrate counting, especially if you have type 1 diabetes.
Everyone needs regular aerobic exercise, and people who have diabetes are no exception. Exercise lowers your blood sugar level by moving sugar into your cells, where it’s used for energy. Exercise also increases your sensitivity to insulin, which means your body needs less insulin to transport sugar to your cells. Get your doctor’s okay to exercise. Then choose activities you enjoy, such as walking, swimming or biking. What’s most important is making physical activity part of your daily routine. Aim for at least 30 minutes or more of aerobic exercise most days of the week. If you haven’t been active for a while, start slowly and build up gradually.
Lifestyles and home remedies
Type 1 diabetes can’t be prevented. However, the same healthy lifestyle choices that help treat prediabetes, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes can also help prevent them:
Eat healthy foods:
Choose foods lower in fat and calories and higher in fiber. Focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Strive for variety to prevent boredom.
Get more physical activity:
Aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day. Take a brisk daily walk. Ride your bike. Swim laps. If you can’t fit in a long workout, break it up into smaller sessions spread throughout the day.
Lose excess pounds:
If you’re overweight, losing even 7 per cent of your body weight for example, 14 pounds (6.4 kilograms) if you weigh 200 pounds (90.9 kilograms) can reduce the risk of diabetes. To keep your weight in a healthy range, focus on permanent changes to your eating and exercise habits. Motivate yourself by remembering the benefits of losing weight, such as a healthier heart, more energy and improved self-esteem.
Sometimes medication is an option as well. Oral diabetes drugs such as metformin (Glucophage, Glumetza, others) may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes but healthy lifestyle choices remain essential.
Have your blood sugar checked at least once a year to check that you haven’t developed type 2 diabetes.
Numerous substances have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity in some studies, while other studies fail to find any benefit for blood sugar control or in lowering A1C levels. Because of the conflicting findings, there aren’t any alternative therapies that are currently recommended to help with blood sugar management.
If you decide to try an alternative therapy, don’t stop taking the medications that your doctor has prescribed. Be sure to discuss the use of any of these therapies with your doctor to make sure that they won’t cause adverse reactions or interact with your current therapy.
Additionally, there are no treatments alternatives or conventional that can cure diabetes, so it’s critical that people who are receiving insulin therapy for diabetes don’t stop using insulin unless directed to do so by their physicians.
Coping and support
Living with diabetes can be difficult and frustrating. Sometimes, even when you’ve done everything right, your blood sugar levels may rise. But stick with your diabetes management plan, and you’ll likely see a positive difference in your A1C when you visit your doctor.
Because good diabetes management can be time-consuming, and sometimes overwhelming, some people find it helps to talk to someone. Your doctor can probably recommend a mental health professional for you to speak with, or you may want to try a support group.
Sharing your frustrations and your triumphs with people who understand what you’re going through can be very helpful. And you may find that others have great tips to share about diabetes management.