Diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, Gestational diabetes

Diabetes, in general, refers to a group of metabolic disorders that involve high blood sugar. Blood sugar is normally kept under control by insulin (a hormone produced by the pancreas that allows the body to use glucose and turn it into energy). In Type 1 Diabetes (also known as insulin-dependent), your body does not produce insulin at all. In Type 2 Diabetes (the most common), the insulin produced is not enough for the body to function properly. Gestational Diabetes appears in some cases during pregnancy and usually recedes after the baby is born.

Causes

 Type 1 Diabetes: caused by the destruction of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas; the cells are terminated by the body’s own immune system (autoimmune disease); genetics and environmental factors such as food, toxins and viruses “help” in developing this type of diabetes

 

Type 2 Diabetes: caused by a combination of factors such as insulin resistance (when the muscles and liver cells do not use insulin effectively) and obesity; excess abdominal fat is a major risk factor for developing insulin resistance and this type of diabetes; genetic predisposition also determines the disease

 

Gestational diabetes is believed to be determined by the hormonal changes and metabolic demands triggered by pregnancy; also correlated with genetic predisposition and environmental factors

Symptoms and signs

 

Hunger (associated with weight gain) and fatigue: because your food intake is not transformed into energy the body feels a constant need to “refuel” and rest

 

Frequent urination: because the kidneys are affected by ineffective use/lack of insulin; they take water from the blood in order to process glucose, thus filling the bladder

 

Thirst/dry mouth: generated by the need to replenish the water reserves that have been used

 

Unusual weight loss: appears in type 1 diabetes due to the fact that the body turns to another source of energy and starts consuming muscle tissue and fat

 

Skin and yeast infections: the body’s ability to heal and rebalance itself is damaged

 

Irritability, numbness or tingling in the extremities, sexual dysfunction among men

Advice

 

Ask your doctor for a series of tests: Blood Glucose test; Hemoglobin A1c (shows how well already diagnosed diabetes is kept under control); urine tests (in order to monitor the kidneys’ activity and possible warning signs); oral glucose tolerance test (used to diagnose type 2 and gestational diabetes)

 

Keep a close watch on your blood sugar levels by paying attention to your diet, exercise and medication

 

Know your diabetes ABC’s meaning: talk to your doctor in order to efficiently manage your disease => Monitor A1c – measures average blood sugar over the last three months; B- Blood pressure and C – Cholesterol levels

 

Learn to live with your condition: adjust your lifestyle to your needs, plan your appointments and develop a medication plan with the help of your doctor, without letting these aspects become what defines you

 

Try to reduce stress levels as they can raise your blood sugar

 

A good stress-relief method is taking up a physical activity, picking up a hobby, meditating

 

Go for healthier meal choices: food that is low in calories, saturated and trans fats, sugar and salt; try more fibre and whole grains, fruits, vegetables and plenty of water

MISCONCEPTIONS
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    People that are diagnosed with diabetes should not exercise. -> Exercise is highly recommended in diabetes as it helps in weight control, cardio vascular health, mood and stress management.

     

    Overweight people will eventually develop type 2 diabetes. -> This aspect represents a risk factor but it does not mean that the person in question will necessarily develop the disease. Many people that have type 2 diabetes have never been overweight or obese in their life.

     

    Children can grow out of their diabetic condition. -> Unfortunately, almost all children that are diagnosed have type 1 diabetes. That means that the insulin producing cells in their pancreas are gone forever (or at least until a cure will be found).

     

    Eating too much sugar will give you diabetes

     

    Diabetes diets are completely different from other people’s diets

     

    Diabetes is contagious, like the flu

     

    People that have diabetes can never eat chocolate or other sweets

Statistics

 

2014: 29.1 million US children and adults (9.3% of the population) have diabetes. This is a rise from 25.8 million (8.5%) in 2011

 

208,000 (0.25%) people younger than 20 years have diabetes

 

9% of people aged 65+ years have diabetes; a total of 11.2 million people

 

6% of men have diabetes; a total of 15.5 million people (a rise from 11.8% in 2010)

 

2% of women have diabetes; a total of 13.4 million people (a rise from 10.8 in 2010)