Diabetes is regarded as one of the most common health issues around the world and in Malaysia, about 3.6 million Malaysians are suffering from diabetes, the highest rate incidence in Asia. Type 2 Diabetes may just be one of the most common forms you may have heard from people around you. Here’s a run-through on what you need to know about Diabetes and how it can be treated.
Types of Diabetes
Diabetes or also known as diabetes mellitus is classed as a metabolism disorder. Metabolism refers to the way how our bodies use digested food for energy and growth. The food we consume is broken down into glucose. Glucose is a form of sugar in the blood and it is the principal source of fuel for our body system. Once the food is digested the glucose makes its way into our bloodstream. Our cells use glucose for energy and growth. That being said, glucose cannot enter our cells without insulin being present, it’s with insulin that our cells can take in the glucose.
Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas. After eating, the pancreas immediately releases an adequate quantity of insulin to divert the glucose present in our blood into the cells and lowers the blood sugar level. A person with diabetes will have a condition in which the quantity of glucose in the blood is too elevated(hyperglycemia). That is because the body either does not produce sufficient insulin, produces no insulin or the cells did not respond properly to the insulin the pancreas produces. This would result in too much glucose building up in the bloodstream. This excess blood glucose would eventually pass out of the body in urine. So, even if the blood has plenty of glucose, the cells are not getting it for their essential energy and growth requirements.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes was previously known as a juvenile-onset disorder. The cause of it is due to an auto-immune reaction where the body’s defence system attacks the cells that produce insulin. Individuals with type 1 diabetes produce very little or no insulin. The disease can affect people of all ages but usually develops among children or young adults. People with this type of diabetes will require injections of insulin daily to control the levels of glucose in their blood. Common symptoms for type 1 diabetes include increased thirst and frequent urination, extreme hunger, weight loss, fatigue, irritability and blurred vision.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes was previously called non-insulin-dependent diabetes or adult-onset diabetes. It is characterized by insulin resistance and relative insulin deficiency, either or both of which could be present at the time diabetes is diagnosed. The diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can affect people of all ages. Type 2 diabetes can remain undetected for years and the diagnosis is often made when a complication appears or a routine blood or urine glucose test is conducted. It can also be associated with overweight or obesity, which itself can cause insulin resistance and lead to high blood glucose levels. Individuals with type 2 diabetes can often initially manage their condition through diet and exercise. However, most people will still require oral drugs and insulin. Common symptoms for type 2 diabetes may include increased thirst and frequent urination, increased hunger, weight loss, fatigue, irritability, blurred vision, slow-healing sores or frequent infections.
Pregnant women who have never had diabetes before but known to have high blood sugar(glucose) levels during pregnancy could potentially have gestational diabetes. The condition starts when a pregnant woman’s body is not able to produce and use all the insulin it needs for pregnancy. During the pregnancy period, usually around the 20th to 24th week, many women can develop gestational diabetes. There are no noticeable signs or symptoms for women diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
Treatment for Diabetes
All types of diabetes can be treated, but for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes may last a lifetime because there is no cure. The treatment for a patient diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes is mainly injected with insulin, together with dietary and exercise adherence. Whereas for Type 2 diabetes begins with oral medication and some injectable non-insulin medication along with diet and exercise. Without any treatment, individuals will have a significantly higher risk of developing complications, such as ketoacidosis, low blood sugar(hypoglycemia), and nonketotic hyperosmolar coma. Longer-term complications include cardiovascular disease, retinal damage, chronic kidney failure, nerve damage, poor healing of wounds, gangrene and erectile dysfunction.
How to maintain blood sugar levels
Start taking notes with the following daily:
1.Blood glucose level before your first meal(fasting glucose)
2.Blood glucose level before each meal
3.The total digestible carbohydrate content of your food each time you have taken (exclude fibre)
4.Blood glucose level 1 hour after eating
5.Blood glucose level 2 hours after eating
Manage your carbohydrate intake to ensure that your blood sugar levels are as low as you can get, ideally to non-diabetic levels:
- Fasting(before your first meal of the day): under 100mg/dL
- One hour after meal: under 140mg/dL
- Two hours after a meal: under 120mg/dL
If you reach the point where meals under 102-g of carbohydrates are causing you to exceed these blood sugar levels, you need to consult with your doctor.
How frequent should you check your blood sugar levels
Depending on your level of control, a highly intensive schedule may include the following:
- waking up(including short naps)
- before going to sleep(including short naps)
- before a meal
- two hours after a meal
- when you are not feeling well
- before any prolonged exercise
- when suspecting any hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia
- before driving/operating a vehicle
- on a daily basis, it could take 7 times
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You Jing is a content writer who writes career and lifestyle contents to inspire job seekers and employers alike on their journey to work-life balance, empowerment and transformation in their career path.
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