Every year on November 14, World diabetes day brings attention of world towards diabetes. The campaign calls all those responsible for diabetes care, to understand diabetes and take control. Diabetes is a condition that makes hard to control the level of glucose in blood. Learn more about diabetes including causes, risks, prevention and its symptoms.
What is going on in the body?
The pancreas, a long, thin organ located behind the stomach, makes insulin. In most people, the pancreas makes extra insulin when they eat. It is then released into the bloodstream. Insulin helps move glucose that is in the bloodstream to the inside of cells in the body. Glucose is a key source of energy for the body. In a person with diabetes, the pancreas cannot make
enough insulin to keep up with the body's demand. So glucose cannot be moved into the cells and used. In some types of diabetes, the body cells resist the insulin. As a result, glucose builds up in the blood. And that leads to a high blood glucose level, called hyperglycemia.
What are the signs and symptoms of the disease?
Symptoms partly depend on the type of diabetes a person has and how long it has been untreated. Many patients with type 2diabetes have no symptoms at all. Any signs and symptoms are mostly related to high blood glucose levels and include:
Fatigue and weakness
Frequent urination in increased amounts
Nausea and vomiting
Skin infections, especially fungal or more serious bacterial infections
Visual problems, such as blurred vision
Weight loss despite increased hunger and thirst
A condition called Ketoacidosis may occur in a person with type 1 diabetes if the person goes without enough insulin for too long. This is a severe complication and requires medical attention right away. Symptoms include:
Deep rapid breathing, sometimes with a fruity odor to the breath
Nausea and vomiting
How is the disease diagnosed?
There are several types of blood tests which can be done to diagnose diabetes, including:
Fasting blood sugar test, which is the most common method to diagnose most cases of diabetes. In this test, a person is asked to fast overnight for at least 8 hours. In the morning, the level of glucose in the blood is then checked. Healthy fasting plasma glucose levels are less than 110 milligrams per deciliter or mg/dL. A fasting plasma glucose level of more than 126 mg/dL usually suggests diabetes. Levels between 110 and 126 mg/dL are seen in pre-diabetes.
Postprandial blood sugar test measures blood glucose exactly 2 hours after you eat a normal meal. This test is generally performed after Fasting blood sugar test. 140mg/dl is considered to be normal sugar level.
Oral glucose tolerance test, which is the preferred way to diagnose gestational diabetes. It can also be used to diagnose type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes. In this test, a person is asked to drink a sweet liquid. Blood samples are then drawn at timed intervals. If a person does not have diabetes, the glucose levels will rise and then fall quickly after drinking the sweet liquid. When a person has diabetes, glucose levels will rise higher and fail to come down as fast as those in a person without diabetes. If the blood glucose level is 140 to 199 mg/dL 2 hours after drinking the liquid, a diagnosis of pre-diabetes can be made.
Random blood sugar test, which can be done without fasting and is used as a screening tool. A level of 200 mg/dL or higher suggests diabetes. If the level is above 200 mg/dL, a fasting blood sugar test, postprandial blood sugar or oral glucose tolerance test can be done to confirm the diagnosis of diabetes.
There are other types of diabetes that are less common. This category includes diabetes caused by a genetic defect or pancreatic diseases. Other types of diabetes are caused by hormonal problems or from being exposed to certain drugs or chemicals.
What can be done to prevent the disease?
There is no way to prevent type 1 diabetes. But it may be possible to prevent type 2 diabetes in many cases! This is especially true once pre-diabetes is known. Even modest lifestyle changes can help prevent the onset of diabetes. This is why it is very important to recognize pre-diabetes. The key is to:
Eat a healthy diet
Exercise 30 minutes a day at least 5 days a week
Maintain a healthy body weight
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