Diabetes- perhaps one of the most commonly used disease term (if not more than at least as much we’ve used the word Corona this past year) .Well don’t we all happen to know at least one family member or friend affected by this dreadful chronic condition?
Diabetes mellitus (the medical term for diabetes) happens to be one of the most prevalent diseases affecting a whopping 463 million people across the globe with about 4.4 million people dying due to Diabetes and related complications as per the latest data from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). While experts state that our massive lifestyle changes being predominantly sedentary in nature and lack of physical work thereof is a major key factor, one’s bad genes is also to be blamed for causing Diabetes.
While China and India top the board in terms of number of persons affected by Diabetes, the United States leads in developed countries affected by Diabetes. The UK however happens to be one of the lesser affected countries with only 6% of the population being affected with it.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic, metabolic disease characterized by a rise in blood sugar levels. Now to understand this lets quickly look at how the body normally processes the glucose that enters our body after we take food. The body converts the glucose that we acquire post-meal into a storable form of sugar called glycogen and stores them in our liver and muscles for later use. All of this complicated processing is done with the help of a hormone called Insulin produced by the Beta cells of our Pancreas. These teeny tiny organs called Pancreas sitting right behind our stomach and their secretion Insulin are affected or rather impaired in Diabetes thereby leading to failure of conversion of glucose to glycogen thus resulting in high blood sugar levels.
Persons affected by diabetes experience an increased thirst, hunger and frequent visits to the restroom as the body tries to eliminate the excess glucose from the body in the absence of Insulin.
Types of Diabetes
Diabetes is rather an umbrella term inclusive of the various types of Diabetes, which are:
-Type 1 Diabetes
-Type 2 Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes
Also called as juvenile-onset Diabetes or Insulin-dependent Diabetes majorly affects children and adolescents as their bodies develop antibodies against their own Pancreas, attacking them leading to an impaired Insulin secretion. These auto-antibodies (i.e. antibodies produces by one’s body against their own cells or organs) could also be attacking the Beta-cells which primarily produce insulin.
Since this form of Diabetes destroys the Insulin forming cells and organ these persons have almost no insulin in their systems which makes them dependent on externally administered insulin throughout their lives. Meaning, people with Type 1 Diabetes need to be administered with Insulin after every meal, thanks to science and technology for Insulin pens which allows them to self-administer insulin whenever and wherever according to the doctor’s prescription, without medical supervision.
As per the latest data from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) around 1.1 million children and adolescents are currently living with Type 1 Diabetes. This form of diabetes can be genetic or hereditary in nature.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is the most common of type of Diabetes seen adults, with at least 1 in 5 people above the age of 65 being affected by it. It was previously referred to as Adult-onset or Non-insulin dependent Diabetes. In this type, the insulin produced by one’s body is not of enough quantity to counteract the glucose levels or the insulin produced by the beta cells of the pancreas isn’t taken up by the cells of the body. This is referred to as “Insulin resistance”; meaning, the cells refuse to take up the insulin thereby impairing the glucose metabolism taking place within each cell.
Type 2 diabetes has been commonly linked to obese individuals, sedentary lifestyles and food habits which now contain massive levels of sugars and fatty oils which are slowly and steadily becoming the villains of modern civilization.
Although this type of diabetes is less aggressive in comparison to Type 1 Diabetes and can easily be controlled by proper diet and exercises, it is just as dangerous if not kept in control. The complications that arise from uncontrolled Diabetes by themselves can be disabling or fatal.
Gestational Diabetes as the name suggests is diabetes occurring during pregnancy. It is common knowledge that there is a surge of hormones during pregnancy or as we dramatically say “hormones all over the place” is in fact true as these hormones cause a truckload of health issues for pregnant women, Diabetes being one of them.
A hormone produced by the placenta during gestational period prevents uptake of insulin by the mother’s body cells thereby leading to impaired insulin function. Gestational Diabetes is more prevalent during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters and is mostly transient. Post-partum the blood sugar levels come back to normal. Sometimes, woman with Gestational Diabetes happen to be affected by obesity and progress to type 2 diabetes after childbirth, seen in about 10% of the cases. A data suggests that 1 in 6 live births is affected by Gestational Diabetes in rare cases leading to pre-term birth, stillbirth or death of the baby if left untreated.
It has been suggested that woman are over-weight, lack of physical activity, unhealthy or a nutritionally deficient diet as potential risk factors for Gestational Diabetes.
Hence a health starting weight at the time of pregnancy, eating healthy food, adequate exercise and an active lifestyle can help prevent Gestational Diabetes.
Pre-diabetes is a condition in which the blood sugar levels are higher than normal but is not high enough to be classified as Type 2 Diabetes. It is a border-line condition, which if not kept under control can progress to Type 2 Diabetes and result in associated complications.
Although Diabetes is a dreadful condition , it is possible to prevent one’s self from Type 2 diabetes with early diagnosis and a well-balanced dietary as well as exercise routine can keep the diabetes at bay!