Causes and symptoms of diabetes

Diabetes is the condition characterized by abnormally high level of sugar in the blood. Types include type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes. Diagnosis is done through a random blood glucose test, glucose tolerance test, and HBA1C. Symptoms include increased hunger and thirst, fatigue, blurred vision, and frequent urination.

Types

Following are the various types of diabetes:

  1. Type 1 diabetes or insulin dependent diabetes mellitus: This type of diabetes is caused due to the destruction of beta-cells of the pancreas. In this diabetes, there is an insulin deficiency.
  2. Type 2 diabetes or non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus: In this type of diabetes, insulin is present in the body, but the cells are unable to recognize insulin. This is known as insulin resistance.
  3. Gestational diabetes: Due to hormonal changes during pregnancy, diabetes occurs during pregnancy. This is known as gestational diabetes. The blood sugar level returns to normal levels after delivery.

Causes

  1. Obesity
  2. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  3. Physical inactivity
  4. Family history of diabetes
  5. Sedentary lifestyle
  6. Pregnancy
  7. Hormonal disease such as hypothyroidism
  8. Pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer
  9. Medications such as anti-epileptics and diuretics
  10. Genetic mutations such as cystic fibrosis

Symptoms

  1. Increased fatigue and weakness.
  2. Increased thirst.
  3. Increased appetite.
  4. Increased frequency of urination.
  5. Unexplained weight loss.
  6. Blurred vision.
  7. Numbness and tingling sensation.
  8. Frequent infection especially urinary tract infection.
  9. Unhealed sores and ulcers.
  10. Easy cutting and bruising.
  11. Itchy skin.

Ways to diagnose

Following are the tests used to diagnose diabetes:    

  1. Oral Glucose tolerance test: Oral glucose tolerance test is the test done to determine how fast the glucose is eliminated from the blood plasma. The primary requirement for this test is the patient should have done eight hours fast prior to the test. Fasting blood sugar is tested. After this, the patient is provided with a syrupy solution and the blood test is done after 2 hours. If the blood sugar level is more than 200 mg/dl, the patient is diabetic. A blood sugar level below 140 mg/dl indicates the non-diabetic state while the level between 141 mg/dl to 199mg/dl indicates a prediabetic state.
  2. Fasting plasma glucose test: The blood sample for sugar identification is taken in the morning after an overnight fast. If the levels are below 100mg/dl, the patient is not suffering from diabetes. Values above 126mg/dl indicates diabetes while the value between 100mg/dl to 125mg/dl is considered prediabetic.
  3. Random Blood test: A random blood sugar test is done at any time. A level of 200mg/dl indicates the presence of diabetes.
  4. Glycated Hemoglobin test: This test is done to evaluate the average level of sugar in the blood for the last 2-3 months. This test measures the percentage of sugar attached to the hemoglobin. Value of this test above 6.5 percent indicates the presence of diabetes while a value lower than 5.7 percent is normal. A value between 5.7 percent to 6.4 percent is a prediabetic state.

Risks if neglect

Following are the complications developed in the patients with u treated diabetes:

  1. Skin complications: Skin infection may occur due to bacteria or fungi. The other skin problems include allergy, itching, bruising, diabetic dermatopathy, and digital sclerosis. Further, diabetic foot ulcer is another serious complication of diabetes.
  2. Kidney complications: Unmanaged diabetes may lead to nephropathy and may result in kidney damage.
  3. Neural complications: Peripheral neuropathy is another complication which leads to pain, numbness and tingling sensation.
  4. Eye complications: Diabetes may lead to retinopathy which may cause blindness. Other eye effects include blurred and distorted vision.

Stages

Stages of diabetes are phased according to the amount of sugar present in the blood, whether the condition is reversible or irreversible and the symptoms experienced by the patient.

Following are the stags of diabetes:

  1. Prediabetes: In this stage, the level of sugar in the blood is higher than normal but is below the level required to be called as diabetes. The symptoms of prediabetes are very mild or non-existent. If the person has HBA1C value in between 5.7 percent to 6.4 percent, the person is said to be prediabetic.
  2. Full blown diabetes: This is the condition characterized by the presence of symptoms and the HBA1C level of these patients is above 6.4 percent.

Foods to eat and avoid

Healthy dietary habit is one of the important steps to manage the symptoms of diabetes. Patients at the borderline of diabetes can reverse the condition simply by taking care of their lifestyle which includes exercise and changing dietary habits.

Foods to eat:

  1. Flaxseed
  2. Avocado
  3. Nuts
  4. Omega-3 fatty acids
  5. Fresh fruits and vegetables
  6. Protein-rich foods such as beans
  7. Whole grains
  8. Turmeric
  9. Cinnamon
  10. Oatmeal
  11. Turmeric
  12. Leafy green vegetables such as spinach
  13. Chia seeds
  14. Unsweetened yogurt

Foods to avoid:

  1. Flavored yogurt
  2. Food containing trans fats such as peanut butter and margarine
  3. Processed grains
  4. White bread
  5. Pickles
  6. Canned vegetables
  7. Fruit juice drinks

Prevention tips

  1. Live a healthy lifestyle.
  2. Incorporate exercise in your daily routine.
  3. Manage your weight.
  4. Avoid smoking.
  5. Limit the quantity of alcohol.
  6. Avoid sugary and processed food.
  7. Stay away from junk foods.
  8. Maintain your blood pressure.
  9. Stay active.
  10. Avoid fatty foods.
  11. Avoid overeating.

When to see a doctor

Book appointment with your doctor if:

  • You are experiencing excess fatigue.
  • You feel thirsty.
  • You have increased frequency of urination.
  • You have a sudden increase in appetite.
  • You have neurological disorders such as numbness and tingling sensations.
  • Your blood levels are not in limits even after adhering to medications.
  • Any other symptom which makes you concerned.

Do’s & Don’ts

Do’s

  • Make exercise a daily routine.
  • Maintain a healthy diet.
  • Incorporate fruits and vegetable in your diet.
  • Eat leafy vegetables like spinach.
  • Remain active.
  • Do meditation and yoga.
  • Maintain your blood sugar within limits.
  • Add protein to your diet.

Don’ts

  • Do not smoke
  • Do not drink excess alcohol.
  • Do not overeat.
  • Avoid sugary and fatty foods.
  • Do not eat junk food.
  • Avoid canned food.

Risks for specific people

Pregnancy increases the risk of gestational diabetes. People with a family history of diabetes and an unhealthy lifestyle have significantly increased the risk of diabetes. Elderly people and people with obesity are more prone to developing diabetes. People with high blood pressure, abnormal lipid profile, and women with polycystic ovary syndrome are at peril for diabetes.