About Diabetes

Definition of Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life.

There are three types of diabetes:

Though, the reasons for a person getting diabetes are not fully understood, it is well understood that both nonmodifiable risk factors such as genetic factors and modifiable risk factors such as environmental factors, obesity and lack of exercise play roles in the occurrence of diabetes. For type 2 diabetes, especially, these modifiable factors are helpful in disease prevention as well as slowing the disease process (see below). However, they are still important in all types of diabetes, if not to prevent but at least help in managing diabetes well

Type 1 diabetes is a disease that starts when the pancreas stops making insulin or its capability to produce insulin is significantly reduced. Insulin lets blood sugar-also called glucose-enter the body's cells to be used for energy. Without insulin, the cells can't get the sugar they need, and too much sugar builds up in the blood which is harmful as it can lead to damage to your eyes, heart, blood vessels, nerves, and kidneys.

Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong disease that happens when the cells of the body can't use insulin the right way or when the pancreas can't make enough insulin. Insulin lets blood sugar-also called glucose-enter the body’s cells to be used for energy. When insulin is not able to do its job, the cells can't get the sugar they need, and too much sugar builds up in the blood. Over time, this extra sugar in the blood can damage your eyes, heart, blood vessels, nerves, and kidneys.

Gestational diabetes is a temporary form of insulin resistance that usually occurs halfway through a pregnancy as a result of excessive hormone production in the body, or the pancreas' inability to make the additional insulin that is needed during some pregnancies in women without a previous history of Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. Gestational diabetes usually goes away after pregnancy, but women who have had gestational diabetes are at an increased risk for later developing Type 2 diabetes. Researchers have identified a small percentage of diabetes cases that result from specific genetic syndromes, surgery, chemicals, drugs, malnutrition, infections, viruses and other illnesses. Excess blood sugar levels can also be harmful for the growing fetus.

Diabetes Can Be Silent…

Diabetes can go silently undetected for a long time without symptoms and is a chronic (life-long) condition that can have serious consequences. Many people first become aware that they have diabetes when they develop one of its potentially life-threatening complications, such as heart disease, blindness or nerve disease.

…But There is Reason to Cheer

Fortunately, diabetes can be managed with proper care in order to prevent or delay complications and to improve one’s quality of life. With careful attention to your blood sugar control, lifestyle modifications and medications, you can manage your diabetes and may avoid many of the problems associated with the disease.

Symptoms to look out for

  • Frequent urination
  • Unusual thirst
  • Blurred vision
  • Bedwetting
  • Lack of Energy, Extreme fatigue
  • Constant hunger
  • Irritability
  • Cuts or bruises that are slow to heal
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
  • Recurring skin, gum or bladder infections
  • Unusual weight loss

Often, people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms or ignore these symptoms as common problems, thereby highlighting the importance of periodic health check-ups to identify diabetes or other disease conditions such as hypertension etc.