Diabetes Facts – Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Diabetes Facts & Treatments
Diabetes Facts & Treatments

Diabetes mellitus (DM) is commonly referred to as Diabetes. It is a metabolic disorder or condition that results in an individual having higher than normal expected blood sugar level over a prolonged period. Let us discover the diabetes facts, causes, symptoms and treatments or management.

This could be due to two reasons

  • Either the pancreas is not producing enough insulin OR
  • The body cells are not responding satisfactorily to the insulin produced thus resulting in increased glucose levels in the blood

High blood sugar levels can damage organs, blood vessels, and nerves. Insulin is the main anabolic hormone of the body. When the body converts the food we eat into energy (called sugar or glucose), insulin is delivered to help get this energy into the cells of the body.

There are multiple reasons for people to get high blood sugar levels and hence there are different types of diabetes exist. Diabetes can affect anyone irrespective of the age, gender, race or the lifestyle.

In The Article

Diabetes Types

There are 4 different types of diabetes

1. Prediabetes

In this type of diabetes, blood sugar is high though not very high to be classified as type 2 diabetes.

2. Type 1 Diabetes

Around 10% of the people with diabetes have this type of diabetes. This mostly develops in childhood or adolescence stage, though it might get developed in adulthood as well.

This type of diabetes is treated with insulin mainly, while diet might also help to keep the blood sugar level at the correct level. This type occurs when the immune system by mistake attacks and kills the beta cells of the pancreas and hence very little or no insulin is delivered into the body.

3. Type 2 Diabetes

Around 90% of the people with diabetes have this type of diabetes. This mostly develops in adults, though it might get developed in children as well. It mostly takes a longer time to diagnose this type of diabetes.

Based on the severity of diabetes, it might be managed through exercise and diet or sometimes it might require medications/insulin as well to control the blood sugar level.

This type occurs when the body is unable to use the insulin released OR pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin In either case, blood sugar level increases.

4. Gestational Diabetes

This is a temporary condition that occurs mainly during pregnancy and it exists only for a short-term. Around 3% to 20% of pregnant women get this type of diabetes. This depends on the risk factors of the individuals

But having this type of diabetes might increase the risk of developing diabetes for both the mother and the child.

Diabetes Signs

Unlike many other diseases, Diabetes usually has many symptoms in its early stages. Some of the warning signs that indicate the possibility of getting diabetes are

  • Frequent thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Feeling hunger more frequently
  • Loss of weight
  • Fatigue / Tired Feeling
  • Slow healing wounds
  • Numbness in the feet or toes

There are few other signs as well that might indicate diabetes though they are not specific to the disease. Some of them are: the Slow healing of cuts, headache, blurred vision, dry, itchy skin and so on

Diabetes Causes

Though there is a different type of diabetes, there is no common cause that can be attributed to all of them. The cause for each type of diabetes varies depending on the individual and the type.

For example, causes for Type 1 diabetes vary substantially from the causes of Gestational diabetes. Same is the case between the causes for Type 2 diabetes and Type 1 diabetes as well.

It is because, the causes depend on the genes, family hereditary, health factors and even environmental reasons. There is a misconception that sugar causes diabetes.

It is not true though sugar can influence an individual get Type 2 diabetes because taking too much of sugar or sugary foods make the individual put more weight Gaining weight from eating too many increases the chance of getting diabetes to an individual.

Causes for Type 1 diabetes

This type of diabetes is mainly caused because the immune system kills the cells in the pancreas thereby leaving the body without sufficient insulin to function normally.

The following are some of the reasons that might trigger Type 1 diabetes.

  • Chemical toxins
  • Bacterial infections
  • Too much of medication at the younger age
  • Certain unknown components resulting in an autoimmune reaction

Causes of Type 2 diabetes

These type of diabetes are due to various factors most often due to a family history of type 2 diabetes.

The following are some of the reasons that might trigger Type 2 diabetes.

  • Overweight or Obesity
  • Lack of exercise or a sedentary lifestyle
  • Age factors
  • Lack of proper diet

Causes of Gestational diabetes

Diabetes during pregnancy is also called gestational diabetes The exact reason for this type of diabetes is still not known clearly But there are several risk factors that can increase the chances of getting this type of diabetes.

  • Family history
  • Overweight
  • Suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome (A hormonal disorder causing enlarged ovaries)

Diabetes Symptoms

Prediabetes Symptoms

Generally, prediabetes has no specific signs or any symptoms. But without lifestyle and diet changes, individuals with prediabetes are having high chances to develop to Type 2 diabetes.

But once the individual experience signs like more thirst, increase in the frequency of urination and so on it is an indication that the individual is moving from the prediabetes stage towards Type 2 diabetes

In such cases, it is advisable to consult a doctor immediately

Early Symptoms of Diabetes

Some individuals have symptoms that are so mild that they go unnoticed

Some of the early signs that are an indication of the possibility of diabetes

  • Dry mouth
  • Urinary infections
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision and
  • Frequent thirst and urination

Diabetes Symptoms in Men

Some of the warning signs and symptoms of diabetes that are unique to men

  • Erectile dysfunction (also known as impotence)
  • Retrograde ejaculation
  • Low testosterone (Low-T or lack of production of testosterone)
    • Testosterone is a hormone that is required for male development and sexual function
    • It is produced basically in the testicles
  • Reduced sex drive and sexual dysfunction

Diabetes Symptoms in Women

Some of the warning signs and symptoms of diabetes that are unique to women

  • Vaginal yeast infections (due to overgrowth of yeast)
  • Urinary infections (higher in women who have diabetes)
  • Female sexual dysfunction
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (signs include irregular periods, increase in weight, and depression)

Gestational Diabetes Symptoms

This type of diabetes is the one that occurs in pregnant women and it is found that it occurs in around 4% of all pregnancies. There are generally no visible signs or symptoms of this type of diabetes.

Some of the warning signs and symptoms of diabetes for gestational diabetes include

  • A history of gestational diabetes in earlier pregnancy
  • A family history of Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Having prediabetes

Diabetes Symptoms in Children

Though some of the symptoms like increased thirst and urination are common in children as well, some of the other symptoms that can be noticed in children.

  • More hunger even after eating food
  • Irritability or behaviour changes
  • A fruity odour to the breath and
  • Yeast infection

Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms

Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes are more or less similar to Type 1 diabetes

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of consciousness (in rare cases)

But in some cases, there may be no symptoms as well. Moreover, symptoms of Type 2 diabetes develop gradually while the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes develop suddenly.

Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms

Type 1 diabetes develops gradually.

Some of the signs that indicate the possibility of Type 1 diabetes

  • Increased appetite
  • Excessive thirst/dehydration
  • Sweating
  • Excessive urination sometimes even bed wetting
  • Fast heart rate
  • Frequent infections
  • Sleepiness
  • Dizziness
  • Quick mood changes
  • Low body temperature
  • Reduced blood pressure

Diabetes Treatment

Diabetes Treatment at Home

There are many ways to reduce the blood sugar levels. Regular exercise helps the body reduce weight and improves insulin sensitivity. Controlling stress levels is important as stress could lead to an increase in blood sugar levels. Hormones like glucagon and cortisol are emanated during stress

Having proper sleep. Lack of sleep could also affect the blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity. Taking Cinnamon, Bitter Gourd, Gooseberry, Mango Leaves and Bay Leaves helps the patients having diabetics to reduce the sugar levels

Diabetes Treatment Naturally

Better diet control helps in reducing the sugar level. To avoid taking food like Refined sugar, Alcohol, Hydrogenated oils and so on. Instead to take food rich in fibre, chromium, magnesium-rich foods and so on

Apart from this, there are many herbal and natural therapies that also helps in reducing the blood sugar level. It is found that certain plant-based therapies have anti-diabetic properties that include Aloe vera, Fenugreek, Ginger and so on

New Diabetes Treatment

As diabetes progresses, patients would require additional medications or at least a variation from the initial therapy This will help them to better manage their blood glucose levels. Hence continuous research and studies are being done to improve the treatment of diabetic patients

Some of the latest developments

  • Deriving insulin-producing cells from stem cells – Clinical trials have already begun to test insulin-producing implants made from stem cells
  • Using hidden beta cells – Studies indicate that there is another type of immature beta cell that is hiding in the pancreases. Scientists believe that it is possible to use these cells to restore the pancreas functionality
  • Common blood pressure medication
  • Artificial pancreas using transplant – doctors have successfully implanted insulin generating cells into a fatty membrane in the stomach cavity. The success in such operations could help many people getting such artificial pancreas
  • Strict diet – Through clinical trial conducted on different volunteers, it has been found that rigorous weight management program (limiting the consumption of the patients to around 850 calories per day for up to five months) could help the patients lose their weight. This could put Type 2 diabetes into revocation for those patients who lose a remarkable amount of weight

Diabetes Treatment in Ayurveda

Ayurveda is the traditional ancient medical science. In Ayurveda, diabetes mellitus is known as Madhumeha.

There are two reasons for diabetes according to Ayurveda

  1. One reason that diabetes develops is an aggravation of Vata dosha due to tissue depletion. It is also called as dhatukshya
  2. Another reason that diabetes develops is Obstruction of the channels (also called as srotas) through blockage by Kapha dosha and fatty tissue

These causes may manifest overtime as diabetes mellitus. Hence Ayurveda suggest going for food with a low glycemic index. This helps to keep control of blood sugar levels and not allowing them to rise too much.

Low glycemic foods include whole grain bread, oatmeal, brown rice, apples, oranges, tomato juice, sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, grapefruit, and dark leafy green vegetables.

Type 1 Diabetes Treatments

  • Type 1 diabetes is also called juvenile diabetes
  • Treatment for type 1 diabetes typically include taking insulin
  • Treatment for type 1 diabetes aims at ensuring normal blood sugar levels through regular monitoring, insulin therapy, diet and exercise

Type 2 Diabetes Treatments

  • There are lots of options to manage type 2 diabetes
  • Treatment for type 2 diabetes typically include self-care and antidiabetic medications
  • Proper diet, exercise, and regular medication will work together to keep the blood sugar under control for type 2 diabetes

Home Remedies for Diabetes

As there is no permanent cure for diabetes, it is essential to be careful with the blood sugar level to lead a totally normal life. Most of the general herbs and spices, use of natural therapies are found to lower the effect of blood sugar.

There are many home remedies available for diabetes that helps to keep the blood glucose levels in check. Of course, while such remedies can be tried out to control the blood sugar, it is advisable to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Some of the remedies to treat diabetes at home include usage of Cinnamon, Vitamins, Essential oils, Bitter gourd, Ginger, Garlic, Curry leaves, Oatmeal, and Aloe vera.

  • Bitter Gourd
    • Bitter gourd is found to be a good home remedy. It is also known as bitter melon
    • Bitter gourd helps to control diabetes due to its effect to lower blood glucose
    • It helps to improve pancreatic insulin secretion and it also prevents insulin resistance
  • Fenugreek
    • It is an herb that helps to improve glucose tolerance and reduce blood sugar levels owing to its hypoglycemic activity
    • It also kindles the secretion of glucose-dependent insulin
    • As it is high in fibre, it also minimizes the absorption of carbohydrates and sugars
  • Black Plum
    • Similarly, black plum (or jambul) also helps in controlling blood sugar level as it contains anthocyanin, ellagic acid and so on
  • Amla
    • Amla or Indian gooseberry juice also improves proper functioning of the pancreas as it is rich in vitamin C
  • Flaxseeds
    • Flaxseeds are rich in antioxidants and high in fibre and it helps in proper absorption of sugars and fats
    • Consumption of Flaxseeds could lead to a reduction in insulin resistance and this could be due to the reduction in oxidative stress in the body

Diabetes Statistics

  • The National Diabetes Statistics Report is released every two years
  • This report provides the information on diabetes existence, the mortality associated with it, costs incurred for treatment in the U.S
  • As per this report, as of 2015, around 30.3 million Americans (that is around 9.4% of the U.S population) were found to have diabetes
  • Around 84.1 million people were found to have prediabetes which if not treated on time could lead to Type 2 diabetes in the next 5 years
  • Around 1.5 million new diabetic cases were diagnosed with people who are aged 18 years and more as per 2015 report
  • Diabetes continues to be a growing health problem and it is found to be the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. as of 2015
  • Around 7.2 million Americans (which is 1 in every 4 adults) doesn’t seem to know that they have diabetes
  • Diabetes is found to be diagnosed more with the increase in age
    • 4% of diabetes is found in people with 18 to 44 years of age
    • 17% of diabetes is diagnosed in people with 45 to 64 years of age and
    • 25% of diabetes is diagnosed in people who are 65 years and above

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