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Diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus, is a metabolic condition caused due to high blood sugar. Our pancreas produces a hormone known as insulin that helps move sugar from the blood into the cells, giving them energy. When a person suffers from diabetes, their body either does not produce enough insulin or is unable to use the hormone effectively.

When diabetes goes untreated, it can damage your nerves, eyes, kidneys, and other vital organs as well. You should know diabetes types before moving on to the details of the said health condition.

Types of Diabetes

1. Type 1 Diabetes

Diabetes type 1 is an autoimmune condition. Here, the immune system attacks and damages the cells in the pancreas. While it is still unclear why the attack happens, several people in India mainly suffer from this diabetic condition.

2. Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes type 2 is a health condition developed when the body becomes resistant to insulin. Here, the sugar levels in the blood keep increasing, further causing harm to several vital organs in the body.

3. Prediabetes

This is one of the diabetes types that occurs when blood sugar becomes higher than the normal range. However, blood sugar levels are not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes type 2, as explained above.

4. Gestational Diabetes

This condition arises when the blood sugar level increases during pregnancy. It is caused due to the insulin-blocking hormones produced by the placenta.

Each type of diabetes has unique symptoms, causes, and treatment. In this section, we will be discussing the same in detail.

Symptoms of Diabetes

The following table gives a walkthrough on general diabetes symptoms, symptoms common in men and women along with unique symptoms for different diabetes types.

General Diabetes Symptoms

  • Increase in appetite
  • Increase in thirst
  • Sudden loss of weight
  • Frequent urination
  • Blurry vision
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Sores that do not heal

Diabetes Symptoms in Men

Along with the above general symptoms, a few apparent diabetes symptoms in men include –

  • A decrease in sex drive
  • Erectile dysfunction (ED)
  • Poor or weakened muscle strength

Diabetes Symptoms in Women

Along with the above general symptoms, a few apparent diabetes symptoms in women include –

  • Urinary tract infections (UTI)
  • Yeast infection
  • Dry and itchy skin

Diabetes Type 1 Symptoms

Along with the above general symptoms, a few apparent diabetes type 1 symptoms include –

  • Tiredness
  • Frequent mood swings

Diabetes Type 2 Symptoms

Along with the above general symptoms, a few apparent diabetes type 2 symptoms include –

  • Tiredness
  • Recurring infections

Gestational Diabetes

Women suffering from gestational diabetes do not usually experience any symptoms. This condition is likely to be detected during routine checkups.

Causes of Diabetes

Diabetes causes are likely to depend on the type of condition you are suffering from. The following table gives a brief on the same.

Diabetes Type 1 is caused by

  • The doctors are usually unable to determine the cause of diabetes type 1.
  • In some cases, the immune system unknowingly attacks and damages the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.
  • Diabetes type 1 can be transferred genetically to some people.

Diabetes Type 2 is caused by

  • Diabetes type 2 is usually developed due to a combination of genetics and lifestyle habits.
  • Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of developing this type of diabetes condition.
  • Since obesity is also a genetic condition, people are more likely to get diabetes type 2 from their family members.

Gestational Diabetes is caused by

  • Gestational diabetes is developed in women due to hormonal changes during pregnancy.
  • The placenta produces hormones that make the woman's body less effective to insulin, further causing high blood sugar levels in her.

Along with diabetes causes, it is best to know the risk factors that lead to this condition. Let us understand the same depending on the following diabetes types.

Risk Factors for Diabetes

1. For Diabetes Type 1 - You are likely to develop types 1 diabetes during your childhood if your parents or siblings have a similar condition or you carry the genes linked with this type.

2. For Diabetes Type 2 - Your risk of acquiring types 2 diabetes is high if you are:

  • Overweight or obese
  • Above the age of 45 years
  • Having parents or siblings with a similar condition
  • Physically inactive for a longer duration
  • Suffering from gestational diabetes
  • Having prediabetes
  • Having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or high triglycerides
  • Gestational Diabetes - You can acquire this type of diabetes if you are:
  • Overweight or obese
  • Above the age of 25 years
  • Giving birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or more
  • Having a family history of diabetes type 2
  • Having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Furthermore, it is essential to understand the related health complications that can arise due to diabetes.

Health Complications due to Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus leads to high blood sugar levels in the body. This condition can damage the vital organs and tissues in the body. The longer you live, the higher is the risk of health complications arising due to diabetes. A few of these are as follows -

  • Health diseases, heart attack, and stroke
  • Neuropathy
  • Nephropathy
  • Retinopathy or loss of vision
  • Loss of hearing
  • Foot damage such as infections or sores that do not heal
  • Several skin infections
  • Depression
  • Dementia

In the case of gestational diabetes, women can suffer from the following health complications -

  • Premature birth
  • Higher than normal weight at birth
  • Risk of acquiring diabetes type 2 in the future
  • Low blood sugar
  • Jaundice
  • Stillbirth

Diagnosis of Diabetes

If anyone is experiencing diabetes symptoms or is at risk of developing the condition should get themselves tested. Pregnant women should check their blood sugar levels during routine checkups, especially during the second or third trimester. The doctors can use blood tests to diagnose diabetes and prediabetes.

  • The fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test helps measure the blood sugar in the body after the patient has fasted for eight hours.
  • The A1C test provides a snapshot of blood sugar in the body for the last three months.

When it comes to gestational diabetes, doctors suggest testing blood sugar during the 24th or 28th weeks of pregnancy. The earlier can detect diabetes mellitus, the earlier you will be able to start the treatment.

Treatment for Diabetes

The treatment for diabetes mellitus depends on its type. Let us take a look at the same.

  • In the case of Diabetes Type 1

Insulin is the primary treatment for type 1 diabetes. It replaces the hormone your body is unable to produce. Doctors use four types of insulin that are differentiated based on how effectively they work.

  • Rapid-Acting Insulin: Usually starts to show effect within 15 minutes and lasts for 3-4 hours.
  • Short-Acting Insulin: Starts to show effect within 30 minutes and lasts for 6-8 hours.
  • Intermediate-Acting Insulin: Starts to show effect within 1-2 hours and lasts for 12-18 hours.
  • Long-Acting Insulin: Starts to show effect within a few hours after injection and lasts for up to 24 hours or more.

Your doctor will recommend either one of these, depending on the severity of your diabetes condition.

  • In the case of Diabetes Type 2

This type of diabetes condition can be managed with a balanced diet and exercises. However, if lifestyle changes do not suffice, one can need medication for the same. Doctors can recommend the following drugs to reduce blood sugar levels.

  • Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors
  • Biguanides
  • DPP-4 inhibitors
  • Glucagon-like peptides
  • Meglitinides
  • SGLT2 inhibitors
  • Sulfonylureas
  • Thiazolidinediones

You might need one or more of these medications for treating type 2 diabetes.

  • In the case of Gestational Diabetes

Pregnant women are recommended to monitor their blood sugar levels at regular intervals. If it is high, the doctor may suggest some diet changes and exercises bring it under control.

Prevention of Diabetes

There are no preventive measures for diabetes type 1, as it is an autoimmune disease. Whereas, diabetes type 2 can be genetic or due to age, which is beyond prevention as well. However, certain risk factors causing diabetes can be managed by making simple alterations to your lifestyle and routine.

In the case of prediabetes, here are a few things that can be done to delay or prevent yourself from developing diabetes type 2 condition.

  • Get exercises every week (minimum of 150 minutes)
  • Cut down on saturated and trans fat contents
  • Reduce carbs intake
  • Consume more fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Eat smaller portions of food over the day
  • Maintain a healthy body weight

Let us discuss more on diet during diabetes.

Diet during Diabetes

As explained earlier, a balanced meal helps manage most diabetes types. We have suggested a few dietary tips for each type of diabetes below.

  • Diet for Diabetes Type 1

The blood sugar levels tend to rise and decrease depending on the food you consume. Food items rich in starchy or sugary content can raise your blood sugar levels instantly. Whereas, protein and fat content food items show a gradual increase in the same. For type 1 diabetic patients, the doctors can advise limiting the content of carbohydrates consumed daily. The carbs intake needs to be balanced with the insulin dose.

Further, you can consult a nutritionist to draft a bespoke diabetes meal plan as per your body structure. Diabetes type 1 patient needs to get appropriate protein, fat, and carbs to keep the blood sugar in control.

  • Diet for Diabetes Type 2

Following the right meal plan will help control both - the blood sugar levels as well as body weight. Keeping track of carbs intake for type 2 diabetes patients is essential. You can consult a nutritionist to help draft a diet plan as per your body weight. It is highly recommended that you eat -

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Lean protein such as poultry and fish
  • Healthy fats such as olive oil and nuts

Also, maintaining a record of your body weight by calculating the Body Mass Index (BMI) will allow you to make necessary changes to your diet and workout regime. You can use the BMI calculator for the same.

  • Diet for Gestational Diabetes

Consuming a balanced meal is extremely essential during pregnancy. Not only it helps the mother and baby but also avoids acquiring gestational diabetes. So, keep track of your meal portions and limit sugary or salty food items. It is best to consult a nutritionist for the same.

Conclusion

While certain diabetes mellitus conditions are beyond your control, following a simple diet and fitness routine can help manage the same. You can discuss the potential risk of acquiring diabetes, depending on your current health condition, with your doctor. Based on the results, you can make the necessary dietary changes and set a workout regime.

Further, get in touch with your health insurance provider to check whether the treatment and medication costs for diabetes is covered under your policy. It is best to ensure that your finances are secured if this or any other health complication arises in the near future.

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