Diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by abnormally high levels of sugar in the blood. Insulin made by the pancreas helps to regulate the amount of insulin in the blood. Thus, an absence or insufficient production of insulin causes diabetes. Diabetes could also occur when there is a poor response to insulin.
People with uncontrolled diabetes are at risk of cardiovascular conditions, nerve damage, kidney disease, degenerative brain disease etc.
There are three common types of diabetes, namely;
1) Type 1 diabetes: In this type of diabetes, the pancreas produces very little or no insulin.
2) Type 2 diabetes: In type 2 diabetes, the body either fails to produce enough insulin or completely resists insulin.
3) Gestational diabetes: This type of diabetes occurs in pregnant women but it is not as common as type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Women who experience this type of diabetes are at a high risk of having either type 1 or type 2 diabetes later in life.
The initial symptoms of diabetes include;
- Being very thirsty a lot of the time.
- Passing a lot of urine. (The reason you make a lot of urine and become thirsty is because blood sugar (glucose) leaks into your urine, which pulls out extra water through the kidneys.)
- Tiredness, weight loss and feeling generally unwell.
How is diabetes diagnosed?
A simple dipstick test can detect sugar (glucose) in a sample of urine. This may suggest the diagnosis of diabetes. However, the only way to confirm the diagnosis is to have a blood test to look at the level of glucose in your blood. If this is high then it will confirm that you have diabetes.
Some people have to have two samples of blood taken and they may be asked to fast (this means having nothing to eat or drink, other than water, from midnight before the blood test is performed). A different blood test which measures a chemical called HbA1c is now also used to diagnose type 2 diabetes but is not suitable for the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes.
You can control diabetes by;
- Monitoring your blood sugar regularly – Checking your sugars and maintaining a log every day will help you adjust foods and medications to decrease your sugar levels.
- Using your medications as prescribed by your doctor – Your medications help regulate your blood glucose levels, ensure you use them correctly as prescribed.
- Control your carbohydrate intake – Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, which raises blood sugar levels. Reducing carbohydrate intake can help with blood sugar control.
- Exercising regularly – Exercise increases insulin sensitivity and helps your muscles pick up sugars from the blood. This can lead to reduced blood sugar levels.
- Drink water – Drinking enough water may help you keep your blood sugar levels within healthy limits. In addition to preventing dehydration, it helps your kidneys flush out the excess blood sugar through urine.
- Get enough quality sleep – Good sleep helps maintain blood sugar control and promotes a healthy weight. Poor sleep can disrupt important metabolic hormones.