Diabetes (sugar) refers to a group of diseases that affect the way the body uses blood sugar (glucose). Glucose is an important and vital component of health because it is a source of energy used by the cells that make up muscles and tissues, and it is the main source of energy for the brain.
If you have diabetes of any kind, this means that there is too much glucose in your blood, although the reason for this can vary. Too much glucose can cause many health problems.
Chronic cases of diabetes include type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes. Treatable cases of diabetes include pre-diabetes, which occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
Among other conditions that can be treated, gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy, but can disappear after the birth of the child.
Symptoms of diabetes vary by the extent of high blood sugar. Some people, especially those with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes, may not experience any symptoms at first, but people with type 1 diabetes develop symptoms quickly and severely. Some of the symptoms of diabetes I and II include:
- increased thirst
- Constant need to urinate.
- Extreme hunger.
- Inexplicable weight loss.
- Presence of ketones in the urine (ketones are byproducts of muscle and fat breakdown, caused by insufficient insulin).
- blurry vision
- Slow healing of wounds.
- Frequent infections such as gum infection, skin infection or vaginal infections.
Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age and usually appears during childhood or adulthood. And type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, and it can occur at any age, but it is more prevalent among people over the age of forty.
Necessity to consult a doctor
If you think you may have diabetes, or if you notice any symptoms related to this disease, talk to your doctor, the sooner the condition is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can begin. If you’ve already been diagnosed with diabetes, you’ll need to follow up with your doctor until your blood sugar levels improve and stabilize.
Causes of type 1 diabetes
The main reason behind the occurrence of this type is unknown, but it is known that the immune system, which usually fights harmful bacteria and viruses, attacks the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas, leaving the body with little or no insulin, and this results in the accumulation of sugar in the bloodstream, rather than into cells.
It is believed that type 1 diabetes is caused by a combination of modifiable genetics and some environmental factors, although many of these factors remain unclear.
Causes of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes
During pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes, cells become resistant to the way insulin works, and the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin to overcome this resistance, and instead of moving sugar into cells for energy, it accumulates in the bloodstream.
The reason for this deficiency is unknown, although many experts believe that certain genetic and environmental factors play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes. The development of this type of disease is associated with being overweight, but not all people with this type are overweight.
Causes of gestational diabetes
During pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones that help maintain pregnancy, and these hormones increase the cells’ resistance to insulin. Normally, the pancreas produces more insulin to overcome this resistance.
Sometimes the pancreas cannot keep up with this resistance. When this deficiency occurs, a small proportion of glucose enters the cells and a large proportion of it remains in the blood, causing gestational diabetes.
Diabetes risk factors
Diabetes risk factors vary for different types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes risk factors
Although the cause of this type of occurrence is unknown, there are some factors that can increase the risk of developing it, including:
- Having a family history of type 1 diabetes.
- Some environmental factors such as infection with a viral disease.
- Presence of harmful immune cells (antibodies).
- Some nutritional factors such as low consumption of vitamin D, eating cow’s milk at an early age, eating breakfast cereal before the age of 4 months.
- Geography, some countries have high rates of type 1 diabetes.
Risk factors for pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes
Researchers do not fully know what causes some people to develop pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes, although there are some risk factors that may increase the incidence of it, including:
- Weight. The more fatty tissue, the more resistant the cells to insulin.
- Lack of activity, the less activity, the higher the risk of injury. Physical activity helps control weight.
- Family history. The risk increases if a parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes.
- Age, the risk of developing age increases, and this may be due to a lack of exercise, which results in a loss of muscle mass and an increase in weight.
- Gestational diabetes. If you develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy, you are more likely to develop pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes in the future.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition in women that results in menstrual irregularities, increased hair growth and obesity, can increase the risk of diabetes.
- High blood pressure above 140/90 is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Abnormal levels of cholesterol and triglycerides (fats carried in the blood).
Gestational diabetes risk factors
Any pregnant woman can develop gestational diabetes, but some women are more likely to develop it than others. Gestational diabetes risk factors include:
- That the woman is over the age of twenty-five.
- Having a family or personal history of pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes.
- Obesity during pregnancy.
Diabetes complications develop gradually. The longer you have diabetes, and the less you control your blood sugar level, the higher your risk of complications. These complications can be disabling or life-threatening. Among the possible complications that may occur are:
Diabetes increases the risk of several heart and blood vessel problems including coronary artery disease, chest pain (angina), heart attack, and narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis).
Excess blood sugar can damage the walls of the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) that supply nerves, especially in the legs and feet, and this can lead to tingling, numbness, burning or pain that usually begins in the front of the toes or Hand and quickly spread to the rest of the body.
If left untreated, you may lose the sense of touch in the affected extremities. Nerve damage related to digestion can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation, and may lead to erectile dysfunction in men.
Kidney damage (nephropathy)
The kidneys contain millions of tiny blood vessel clusters (glomeruli) that filter waste products from the blood, and diabetes can damage the kidneys’ filtering system. The occurrence of this damage can lead to the development of kidney failure or the development of end-stage kidney disease that may need dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Eye damage (retinopathy)
Diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the retina (diabetic retinopathy), which can cause blindness. Diabetes also causes other vision problems, such as cataracts and glaucoma (blue water on the eye).
Damage to the nerves in the foot or poor blood flow to the foot increases the risk of some foot problems. If left untreated, existing cuts and sores can cause serious infections that heal slowly. This infection may require the amputation of one of the fingers or one of the feet or legs.
Having diabetes can make you more susceptible to skin problems, including a bacterial or fungal infection.
Hearing problems are a complication associated with diabetes.
Having type 2 diabetes can increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, and the less you control your blood sugar level, the higher your risk. Although there are several theories explaining how there is a link between these disorders, none of these theories have been proven.
Gestational diabetes complications
Most women with gestational diabetes give birth to healthy babies, but uncontrolled and treated blood sugar levels can lead to health problems for both mother and baby.
Complications affecting the child
- An increase in growth due to the transfer of excess glucose to the placenta, which stimulates the baby’s pancreas to produce more insulin. Sometimes a cesarean section may be required to deliver these babies.
- Low blood sugar. Babies whose mothers have gestational diabetes may experience low blood sugar soon after birth because their insulin production is already high.
- Babies whose mothers have gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes in the future.
- Death: Untreated gestational diabetes can result in the death of the baby either before or shortly after birth.
- Preeclampsia, which is accompanied by high blood pressure, increased protein in the urine and swelling in the legs and feet.
- Diabetes after pregnancy. If you had gestational diabetes before, the risk of its recurrence increases in the next pregnancy.
Prediabetes may develop into type 2 diabetes over time.
Types of diabetes tests
Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test
This test shows the average blood sugar level during the previous three months, and measures the blood sugar level related to hemoglobin (the protein that carries oxygen to red blood cells). The higher the blood sugar level, the higher the percentage of hemoglobin sticking to the sugar.
If the hemoglobin reading is 6.5 percent or more during two different times, this indicates diabetes. A reading between 5.7 and 6.4 indicates pre-diabetes. If the reading is less than 5.7, the ratio is considered normal.
If the test results are not accurate, or if the test is not available, or if there are some health conditions that could make the test reading inaccurate, the doctor may use some of the following tests to diagnose diabetes:
random blood sugar test
The doctor will take a blood sample at a random time, and this test is done no matter when the last meal is. If the blood sugar level is 200 milligrams per deciliter or 11.1 mmol per liter or higher, this result suggests the possibility of diabetes.
Fasting blood sugar test
The doctor will take a blood sample after fasting for an entire night, and if the blood sugar level is less than 100 milligrams per deciliter, the situation is normal. If the ratio ranges between 100 and 125 milligrams per deciliter, this ratio is considered an indicator of pre-diabetes. If the score is 126 or higher after the same test twice, this means that you have diabetes.
Oral glucose tolerance test
To do this test, you must fast overnight, measure your fasting blood sugar, then drink a sugary liquid, and your blood sugar levels are measured periodically over the next two hours. If the blood sugar level is less than 140, the situation is considered normal, and if the ratio is higher than 200 after two hours, this is considered an indicator of diabetes. When the ratio ranges between 140 and 199, this indicates pre-diabetes.
When type 1 diabetes is suspected, your urine will be checked for the presence of any byproducts produced when muscle and fat tissue are used for energy production when there is not enough insulin to use available glucose.
gestational diabetes tests
If you were obese in early pregnancy, or if you had gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy, or if one of your parents or sisters had diabetes, your doctor will examine you to confirm or rule out diabetes during your first pregnancy.
If your risk of developing gestational diabetes is moderate, your doctor will examine you sometime during the fourth month of pregnancy. Your doctor may use one of the following measurement tests:
Initial glucose challenge test
The test begins with a solution of liquid glucose, and after an hour a blood test is done to measure blood sugar. If the blood sugar level is less than 140 milligrams per deciliter, this percentage is considered normal during the glucose challenge, although this percentage varies from Lab to lab or from one doctor’s clinic to another.
If the blood sugar level is higher than normal, this means that the risk of gestational diabetes is high, and the doctor will order some follow-up tests to confirm or deny that you have gestational diabetes.
Follow-up to the glucose challenge test
During the follow-up exam, your doctor will ask you to fast the night before the appointment, and then check your blood sugar level. Then you will take another sugar solution with a higher glucose content, and then your doctor will check your blood sugar level every hour for three hours. If the reading for two of the three scans is higher than the normal parameters for a follow-up test, you will be diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
One of the most important stages in controlling diabetes and controlling health in general is maintaining a normal weight through a healthy diet and exercise plan.
Despite the common concept, there is no special diet for diabetes, all you need is to rely in your diet on eating more fruits, vegetables and whole wheat grains, foods rich in nutrients and fiber and low in fat and calories.
Limit your intake of animal products, refined carbohydrates and sweets. This diet is considered the best diet for the whole family, and eating sugary foods every once in a while is acceptable as long as it is considered part of the meal plan.
However, knowing which foods to eat and how much can be a challenge, and a dietitian can help you create an eating plan that fits your health goals, favorite foods and lifestyle. Most likely, this plan will depend on the number of carbohydrates eaten, especially in the case of type 1 diabetes.
Everyone needs to exercise regularly, including people with diabetes. Exercising lowers the blood sugar level by moving sugar inside the cells to be used as an energy source. Exercise also helps increase insulin sensitivity, which means the body needs less insulin to move sugar into cells.
Consult your doctor first before exercising, and then choose activities that you enjoy doing, such as walking, swimming or cycling. Most importantly, make physical activity a part of the daily routine. And if you haven’t exercised for a while, start gradually so you don’t get any injuries.
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes treatment
Treatment for type 1 diabetes includes insulin injections or an insulin pump, checking blood sugar regularly and counting carbohydrates. Treatment for type 2 diabetes includes blood sugar monitoring, along with diabetes medications, insulin or both.
blood sugar monitoring
According to the treatment plan, you can monitor and record your blood sugar level four to eight times during the day for a week, as careful monitoring is the only way to make sure that the blood sugar level remains within the normal level. And people on insulin therapy may choose to monitor their blood sugar levels with a glucose monitor.
Despite careful control of blood sugar levels, these levels can change unexpectedly, and with the help of your doctor, you will learn how blood sugar levels change according to the type of food, physical activity, medication, illness, alcohol, stress and some hormonal fluctuations in the case of Women.
People with type 1 diabetes need insulin to survive, and many people with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes need insulin treatment as well.
Many types of insulin are available, including rapid-acting insulin, long-acting insulin and some intermediate-acting insulins. Depending on your needs, your doctor may prescribe a mixture of insulin to be used during the day and night.
Insulin cannot be taken orally to lower blood sugar because stomach enzymes interfere with the function that insulin does. Insulin is usually injected using a needle or an insulin pen, an instrument that resembles a large fountain pen.
An insulin pump, which is a mobile phone-sized device that can be worn or carried, can be used. The insulin receptor is connected to a catheter that is placed under the skin in the stomach area. There is now a wireless tubeless pump that programmes insulin pumps to dispense specific amounts of insulin. It can be adjusted to deliver more or less insulin, depending on meals, activity level or blood sugar level.
Oral medications and other types
Sometimes oral or injected medications may be prescribed. Some medications stimulate the pancreas to make and secrete more insulin. Some other medications interfere with the production and release of glucose into the liver, which means you need less insulin to move the sugar into your cells.
Some medications block the action of intestinal enzymes that break down carbohydrates or make tissues more sensitive to insulin. Metformin is usually the first drug prescribed for type 2 diabetes.
Although this surgery isn’t considered a treatment option for type 2 diabetes, people with type 2 diabetes who have a BMI of over 35 can benefit from this type of surgery.
The blood sugar levels improved significantly and significantly in people who underwent gastric bypass surgery, but the long-term risks and benefits of this procedure for type 2 diabetes patients are not yet known.
gestational diabetes treatment
Controlling the blood sugar level is important to keep the baby healthy and to avoid any complications during childbirth. In addition to eating a healthy diet and getting some exercise, your treatment plan might include blood sugar monitoring and, in some cases, use of insulin and certain oral medications.
The doctor will monitor the blood sugar level during delivery. If the blood sugar level rises, the baby may secrete high levels of insulin, which can lead to low blood sugar level immediately after birth.
If you have pre-diabetes, making healthy lifestyle choices can help bring your blood sugar level back to normal, or at least prevent it from reaching the levels associated with type 2 diabetes. Doing 150 minutes of exercise during the week and losing 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.
Some medications may be an option if you are at risk of developing diabetes, including poor pre-diabetes, cardiovascular disease, fatty liver disease or PCOS.
In some cases, cholesterol-lowering and high blood pressure medications are used. Despite this, making healthy lifestyle choices is the best solution.
Danger signs to watch for
Because there are many factors that can affect blood sugar, some problems can arise that require immediate attention, such as:
high blood sugar
Note any symptoms related to high blood sugar such as frequent urination, constant thirst, dry mouth, blurry vision, extreme tiredness and nausea. And when your blood sugar is high, you need to make some changes in your eating plan, medications, or both.
Increased ketones in urine
If cells need an energy source, the body may begin to break down fats, causing the production of toxic acids known as ketones. In this case, attention should be paid to loss of appetite, physical weakness, vomiting, fever, stomach pain, sweating and a fruity smell.
ketogenic hyperglycemic syndrome
Symptoms of this life-threatening health syndrome include blood sugar exceeding 600 milligrams per deciliter, dry mouth, extreme thirst, fever, drowsiness, confusion, blindness and hallucinations. This syndrome occurs as a result of very high blood sugar, which causes the blood to thicken and make it look like a concentrated fluid.
This syndrome is more prevalent among people with type 2 diabetes, and usually comes after an illness. Consult a doctor or get immediate medical attention if you notice symptoms of this syndrome.
The level of blood sugar drops for several reasons, including neglecting meals and getting physical activity higher than normal, and in most cases this decrease occurs as a result of taking glucose-lowering drugs that help insulin secrete by the pancreas or in the case of insulin therapy.
Watch for symptoms of hypoglycemia such as sweating, tremors, physical weakness, hunger, dizziness, headache, blurry vision, heart palpitations, irritability, difficulty speaking, drowsiness, confusion, fainting and convulsions. Hypoglycemia is treated with fast-absorbing carbohydrates such as fruit juices or glucose tablets.
Lifestyle and some home remedies
Diabetes is a serious disease, and following the treatment plan requires a strong commitment. Careful control of this disease can reduce the risk of developing serious, life-threatening complications. Whatever type of diabetes you have, you should do the following:
- Stick to your diabetes control plan.
- Eat healthy foods and maintain an appropriate weight.
- Include physical activity as part of the daily routine.
Lifestyle for patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes
If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you can do the following:
- Identify yourself, wear a wristband that says you have diabetes, and keep a glucagon kit with you for use when needed.
- Carrying out an annual body and eye examination, to look for any complications related to diabetes or any other disease problems.
- Get regular vaccinations such as flu and pneumonia.
- Taking care of the feet, wash the feet daily with lukewarm water, and dry them slowly, especially between the toes. Moisturise them with creams or moisturizers. Check them daily for any changes.
- Control blood pressure and cholesterol. Eating healthy foods and exercising regularly can help a lot with this.
- Maintaining teeth, brush and clean your teeth twice a day, and have regular dental exams. Consult a doctor immediately if there is bleeding gums, redness or swelling.
- Try to quit smoking , as smoking increases the risk of complications from diabetes.
- Take stress seriously . Put your priorities in order, learn relaxation techniques, and get enough hours of sleep.
Coping with illness and support
Living with diabetes can be difficult and frustrating, and despite everything being done right, your blood sugar can rise, but you must stick to your diabetes control plan, and you’ll likely see a positive difference in test results when you visit your doctor.
Because managing diabetes can be time-consuming and emotional, talking to other people can help relieve stress. Your doctor may suggest talking to a psychiatrist, or you can join a support group, where you can share negative feelings and frustrations with other people who understand what’s going on. pass by. And you may learn some helpful tips that can help you manage your diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, but healthy habits followed by people with type 2 diabetes or those with pre-diabetes and gestational diabetes can help prevent them. These habits include:
- Eat healthy foods. Choose foods that are low in fat and calories and rich in fiber. You can focus on fruits, vegetables and whole wheat grains.
- Limit 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day, and you can do brisk walking, cycling and swimming. And if you can’t do long exercises, you can break them up into small sessions throughout the day.
- Lose excess weight. Losing 7% of your total body weight can reduce your risk of developing diabetes. To maintain a normal weight, you can focus on making permanent changes to your eating and exercise habits.
Getting ready for the doctor’s appointment
If you or your child develops any of the symptoms of diabetes, see a doctor. If your blood sugar levels are too high, you will be referred to the emergency room or hospital. You can prepare for the appointment by:
- Ask if there are any instructions to follow before the appointment when you call the doctor’s office to make your reservation.
- Record any symptoms you’re experiencing, including symptoms that are unrelated to the reason for your appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including major stress episodes or any recent life changes.
- If you’re monitoring your glucose at home, bring the results to your doctor.
- Make a list of all the allergies you have, and the medications, vitamins and supplements you take.
- Record your family medical history, especially those with diabetes, heart attacks or strokes.
- Bring a family member with you to the appointment to help you remember all the information the doctor gives.
Among the questions you can ask the doctor are:
- Are my symptoms related to diabetes or a different disease?
- Do I need any tests?
- What can I do to protect my health?
- What options can I take to control my diabetes?
- I have other health problems, how can I manage these conditions together?
- Are there any instructions I should follow?
- Should I see a dietician or a diabetes educator only?
- Are there any alternatives to the medications I’ve been prescribed?
- Are there any printed educational materials I can use? What sites do you recommend visiting?
Among the questions that the doctor may ask are:
- Can you describe your symptoms?
- Do these symptoms persist all the time, or do they come and go?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- Is there a family history of preeclampsia or diabetes?
- Tell me about your diet.
- Do you do exercise? What types of exercises do you do? How often do you do it?