What is diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus is a condition in which the amount of glucose (sugar) inthe blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly.

What goes wrong in diabetes?

When you have diabetes, the finely tune system that regulates blood glucose fails because you don’t produce insulin (hormone that helps to control glucose in the body), or you don’t produce enough of it or your body is resistant to insulin. As a result, glucose cannot pass into your cells to be burned for energy, so it builds up in the blood. This leads to an abnormally high blood glucose level.

How does the healthy Body use glucose?

When you eat carbohydrate foods such as bread, rice, potatoes, cereals or sugar, they are broken down into glucose during digestion. Glucose moves from the intestines into the bloodstream and then enters the body cells where it is burned as fuel- it gives energy to your entire body, from the muscles to the brain, and is the body’s primary source of energy. Glucose is also stored in the liver and muscles in the form of glycogen

What are the types of diabetes?

Type 1 (insulin dependent) diabetes develops if the body is unable to produce any insulin. This type of diabetes usually appears before the age of 40. It is treated by insulin injections and diet, and regular exercise is recommended.

Type 2 (non insulin dependent) diabetes develops when the body can still make some insulin, but not enough, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly (known as insulin resistance). This type of diabetes usually appears in people over the age of 40, though often appears before the age of 40 in many people due to diet and lifestyle. It is treated by diet and exercise alone or by diet, exercise and tablets or by diet, exercise and insulin injections.

Gestational diabetes:

This type of diabetes may develop around the 28th week (six month) of pregnancy and is the only temporary form of diabetes. It disappears after delivery of the baby. However, people that have this type of diabetes are at risk of diabetes in the future.

What causes diabetes?

Diabetes has no single cause, but may be caused by a combination of any of the following inherited and environmental factors:

Genetic heredity

Overweight and obesity

Body shape

Ethnic background

Pregnancy medications Viral infections

Damage to the pancreas

What happens when there is a high blood glucose level?

When you have a raised blood glucose level, you may experience symptoms such as passing large amounts of urine and excessive thirst. This is because your body removes excess glucose by filtering it through your kidneys and into your urine (the thirst is a result of dehydration). Also, because your body cannot use glucose properly for energy, it obtains energy by breaking down your muscle and fat stores. This can cause weight loss and, in the case of rapid fat breakdown, toxic chemicals building up in your blood.

Unfortunately, a raised blood glucose level does not always produce symptoms, and only a blood glucose test can tell you that it is high.

A blood glucose level that is consistently high over a period of years can damage the body’s tissues, leading to complications involving your eyes, kidneys, feet, heart, blood vessels and nerves.

How do you recognize if you have diabetes?

It is more common to notice the symptoms of a high blood glucose level if you have type 1 diabetes, as the absence of insulin has a dramatic effect on your body. If you have type 2 diabetes, you still produce some insulin, so your symptoms may be less severe- you may even attribute them to growing older. For example, you may feel it’s normal to feel tired, or to get up at night to pass urine.

Occasionally with type 2, there are no symptoms at all and diabetes may not be suspected until you have a routine medical or eye test that reveals early signs of long –term complications.

The following are all symptoms of diabetes:

1. Passing Large Amounts Of Urine Frequently

2. Dry Mouth, Excessive Thirst

3. Lack Of Energy/Tiredness

4. Unintentional Weight Loss

5. Blurred Vision

6. Fruity Smelling Breath

7. Thrush And Cystitis

Today we have learnt what diabetes, the types, causes is and how to recognize diabetes. Next week we will look into the medical test and how to interpret the test for diabetes, what to do to control your blood sugar, or prevent diabetes. Keep a date with me.

•Send all your questions to dietitianmaduforo@yahoo.com.

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  1. Victoria Reply

    You did not include dietary management.

    • Moderator Reply

      You could help by sending in your article on it. Thanks

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