What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a medical condition that causes your blood sugar to rise to dangerous levels. More than 133 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies diabetes as one of the 4 main non-communicable diseases; the others include cardiovascular disease, cancer, and chronic respiratory disease. Diabetes accounts for 2 million deaths globally, according to the WHO.
As food is broken down in your digestive system, your pancreas produces insulin to help cells utilize the glucose in the food for energy. If your pancreas doesn’t produce a sufficient amount of insulin, high blood sugar levels result, and your body’s cells can’t make the energy you need to function properly.
What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?
- Type I diabetes is often diagnosed in children and young adults and is referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes. It is a chronic disease caused by the inability of your pancreas to produce insulin because your immune system attacks the beta cells in your body.
- Type 1 diabetic patients require daily insulin shots to control their blood sugar levels.
- Type 2 diabetes can be present in both adolescents and adults. In fact, 90-95% of adults with diabetes belong to this category. It occurs when your body becomes insulin resistant and can no longer use the insulin it produces. Eventually, your pancreas can’t make enough insulin to support your body’s needs.
- Type 2 diabetes can remain undiagnosed for years, which can lead to other serious medical problems like cardiovascular disease.
What is Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes develops in pregnant women and is usually resolved after the birth of the child. Women who have had gestational diabetes are at a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
What are the risk factors for diabetes?
The development of type 1 diabetes may have a hereditary component, especially if a parent or sibling has it. Pancreatic diseases, including those caused by illness or infection, can interrupt the production of insulin—contributing to the onset of diabetes.
For type 2 diabetes, risk factors include your family history, ethnic background, lifestyle, including a lack of exercise, poor diet, obesity, and gestational diabetes. Age is also a predisposing factor for this condition. Adults who are 45 years and older have a higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes as well as women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Complications of Diabetes
Poorly controlled blood sugar levels can lead to many complications affecting various organs and organ systems. These include:
Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)
Patients with diabetes have high glucose levels in the blood and the body needs insulin so that the glucose can enter the cell and be utilized to produce energy. When the body can’t use glucose, it turns to other sources such as fat. Ketones are the by-products formed when the body breaks down fat as a source of energy. However, high levels of ketones act as a poison to the body. They make the blood acidic. DKA is a serious condition that can lead to diabetic coma and even death if not managed promptly.
Patients with diabetes have a higher risk of blindness because of eye complications such as glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic neuropathy.
This can lead to the development of foot problems such as dry and cracked skin, calluses, foot ulcers, and poor blood circulation.
Because the blood glucose level of diabetic patients is high, it makes the blood thicker. This can damage the arteries and also increases the risk of atherosclerosis. An atherosclerotic artery can become stiff and narrowed, causing the blood pressure to rise.
A high level of glucose in the blood can damage the filtration system of the kidneys, as they make the kidneys filter a large volume of blood. When the kidneys are damaged, they will be inefficient in filtering the body’s waste products from the blood. The toxins will remain in the blood, leading to kidney failure as the toxins continue to pile up.
Nerve damage, also known as diabetic neuropathy, is common in patients with diabetes. Approximately 50% of diabetic patients have some degree of nerve damage. Chronically high blood glucose levels can damage the nerves and may lead to peripheral or autonomic neuropathy.
Can Diabetes be Prevented?
Of the two main types, only type 2 can be prevented because this type is largely linked to a person’s lifestyle. Our urgent care doctor recommends the following measures to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes:
- Eat foods with low to medium glycemic index
- Be mindful of your food portion size
- Exercise regularly
- Drink lots of water
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Stop smoking
- Have an active lifestyle
I’ve been diagnosed with diabetes. What do I do now?
The first step that you should take is to talk to a specialist. Our experienced physician, Dr. Anu Pani will guide you through your diagnosis and recommend the right course of treatment based on your medical history.
Insulin treatments are required for a type 1 diagnosis, and you must follow a healthy diet and targeted lifestyle modifications to ensure good health.
If you have type 2 diabetes, you will also need to follow a healthier diet plan and make the necessary lifestyle choices. These include quitting smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, and reducing stress. Regular exercise will also help to control your weight. Careful monitoring of your blood glucose level through a portable device called a glucometer may also be necessary.
Looking for urgent care near me?
Our urgent care can quickly determine whether you or your loved one have diabetes or are at risk for getting the disease. We have a wide range of medical services for diagnosing, treating, and managing health conditions.
We are committed to providing prompt and compassionate care to our patients and strive to make the medical experience as stress-free as possible.
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health