Diabetes, in all its forms, is characterized by the body’s inability to make or effectively use insulin. Type 1 Diabetes occurs when the body is totally unable to produce insulin while in type 2 Diabetes, the body can either be unable to use insulin effectively, produce little insulin, or both
How does this cause high blood sugar?
The main source of energy for our body cells is sugar in its simplest form i.e. glucose.
Our bodies produce glucose from the food we eat. Carbohydrates are the main source of glucose in the body, but proteins, and fats can also be converted to glucose during periods when your carbohydrate intake is too low and the carbohydrate reserves (glycogen) have been depleted.However, the process is much longer and less direct for proteins and fats compared to carbohydrates.
Once the food has been broken down to glucose, the glucose is transported through the blood to every part of the body. However, most of the cells in the body require insulin to take up the glucose. An increase in blood glucose signals a part of the body known as the pancreas to release insulin into the blood to enable your cells to utilize the glucose for energy production and maintaining cell functions.
Sometimes there is usually a problem with the pancreas being unable to produce insulin (type 1 diabetes); or the cells not responding to the insulin produced with/without the pancreas’ inability to produce insulin (type 2 diabetes). Therefore, when carbohydrates are broken down to glucose, your blood glucose level is bound exceed the normal ranges because of the lack of requisite uptake by your body cells for subsequent use.
High blood glucose (hyperglycaemia) can damage blood vessels that are responsible for supplying oxygen and nutrients to vital organs. Eventually, the damage increases the risk of heart disease; stroke; kidney disease; vision problems; and nerve problems. While such risks might look scary, what is of utmost importance is that they can be minimized through good blood glucose control. Small lifestyle improvements like following a healthy eating pattern, engaging in physical activity and taking prescribed medication can make a big difference as long as you maintain them on most days.
Who is likely to have diabetes?
Anyone at risk of the following factors can developing diabetes:
- Family history: parent, uncle, aunt or grandparents with diabetes.
- Suffering from long-term (chronic) stress
- Overweight or obesity
- High blood pressure
- Elevated levels of HDL-C (bad cholesterol), triglycerides, and low levels of LDL-C (good
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Being 45 years or older
Below 140mg/dl7.8 to 11.0mmol/L
140 to 199 mg/dl
200mg/dl or more
|Plasma Glucose Test||Normal||Pre-Diabetes||Diabetes|
|Random||Below 11.1 mmol/L
Below 200 mg/dl
|N/A||11.1 mmol/L or more
200 mg/dl or more
|Fasting||5.5 mmol/L and below
99mg/dl and below
|5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L
100 to 125 mg/dl
|7.0 mmol/L or more
126mg/dl or more
|2-hour Post Prandial (after a meal)||Below 7.8 mmol/L||7.8-11.1 mmol/L||11.1 mmol/L or more|
|Oral Glucose Tolerance Test||Below7.8 mmol/L||7.8-11.1 mmol/L||11.1 mmol/L or more|
|HbA1C||Below 5.7%||5.7-6.4%||6.5% or more|
Summary of tests used to diagnose Diabetes
What are the early signs and symptoms of diabetes?
Early signs may be absent; therefore, the absolute sign of diabetes is the increased blood sugar level
that is detected during a test that can be done at the hospital. Nevertheless, the following signs
show the possibility of high blood sugar, pre-diabetes or diabetes.
- Increased frequency of urination with the potential of causing dehydration
- Dehydration also causes increased thirst and water consumption
- Increase in appetite
- Weight loss despite an increase in appetite
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Frequent infections (such as infections of the bladder, skin, and vaginal areas)
- Slow healing of even small cuts and wounds
- Blurred vision
- Numbness/tingling/burning sensation in hands or feet
The risk of developing diabetes complications is only apparent with poor control of blood sugars.Therefore, the ultimate goal for diabetic patients should be to maintain their blood sugar levels as close as possible to the normal ranges. This is critical for the patient to live a long healthy life and can be achieved through:
- Adhering to your Diabetes healthy eating plan
- Making physical activity part of your routine
- Taking your medication as prescribed by the doctor
- Managing your blood pressure and blood cholesterol through lifestyle and/or medication
- Checking your blood sugar levels regularly
- Find healthy ways of dealing with stress such as meditation, yoga, breathing techniques, and
talking to someone.