Diabetes is a metabolic condition, which is characterized by pathological changes with regard to insulin metabolism and blood sugar levels. All over the world, there are millions of people who suffer from this chronic disorder, requiring permanent treatment (often in the form of insulin shots). There are several types of diabetes, each with its own manifestations, but all require careful monitoring of blood sugar levels and adequate management/treatment.
Main diabetes types – type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes
Type 1, also known as juvenile diabetes, is an autoimmune condition. What happens is that the overactive immune system attacks the pancreas, affecting insulin production. This causes people to become dependent on artificial insulin.
Type 2, more commonly referred to as diabetes mellitus, affects the use of insulin by the body. Insulin is produced in a normal manner but the body develops resistance to it, causing high blood sugar levels. This is the most common type of diabetes and it is often diagnosed in obese people.
Gestational diabetes, as the name clearly expresses it, occurs during pregnancy. The placenta produces insulin-blocking hormones, reducing the body’s sensitivity to insulin and leading to increased blood sugar levels. The condition must be carefully monitored but it usually resolves after birth.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
A person who suffers from diabetes might present increased hunger and thirst, as well as feel easily fatigued or dizzy. Weight loss can occur, accompanied by the need to urinate frequently and a blurry vision. One can also have lesions that heal with difficulty.
Additional symptoms can be present in accordance with each gender. For example, women might suffer from dry and itchy skin, as well as recurrent infections (such as those affecting the urinary tract; also, yeast infections are common). Men might suffer from erectile dysfunction and low libido, as well as have reduced strength in their muscles.
What are the causes of diabetes?
There is no known cause behind the appearance of type 1 diabetes. Suspected causes include the genetic predisposition and viral infections, the latter causing the immune system to become overactive.
As for type 2 diabetes, it can be passed from one generation to the other, but there are lifestyle factors contributing to its appearance. For example, obesity – especially concentrated in the abdominal area – increases the risk of diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is clearly caused by the hormonal changes associated with pregnancy.
In discussing the diagnosis of diabetes, one must make mention of various risk factors. Apart from obesity and having a family history, potential risk factors include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, age (over 45 years), leading a sedentary lifestyle and having been diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
Pre-existent conditions, such as the polycystic ovary syndrome and even one’s race can increase the risk of diabetes (for example, African Americans present a higher risk of developing this condition). Women diagnosed with gestational diabetes can give birth prematurely and even the baby might present the risk of developing diabetes later on in life.
Diabetes can lead to life-threatening complications, such as stroke and heart disease. Other complications include diabetic neuropathy, loss of eyesight, and kidney failure.
Management and treatment of diabetes
Insulin shots are the standard management solution for type 1 diabetes. Depending on one’s need, these can have an effect that ranges from rapid to long acting. One must constantly monitor the blood sugar level and watch out for physical symptoms that might indicate the need for a new dose. Insulin shots can lead to side-effects, such as nausea, profuse sweating or shaking.
The medication plan for type-2 diabetes can include specific drugs to lower the blood sugar levels and ensure the effective usage of insulin. Commonly prescribed drugs include metformin, GLP-1 receptor agonists and SGLT2 inhibitors.
Exercise and diet
Type-2 diabetes can be kept under control with the help of lifestyle changes. One must lose excess weight and follow a diet rich in fresh and nutritious foods. Eating at fixed intervals is encouraged. High-sugar foods must be avoided, as well as alcohol. Physical exercise is encouraged but one must pay attention to the signs of low blood pressure (such as dizziness or confusion).
Diabetes and mood swings
Suffering from a chronic condition such as diabetes can lead to mood swings, as well as anxiety and depression. As the blood sugar fluctuates, one might feel nervous and stressed. It is important to recognize these problems and get help; for example, one can opt for cognitive behavioral therapy and counseling.
You can use the Care Clinic’s health app as a mood tracker and record your emotional symptoms, identifying a connection between these and your blood sugar levels. The application can also be useful in managing other aspects related to your condition.
For instance, you can record your treatment plan and set up medication reminders, making sure you are getting your shots at fixed intervals. A health diary can also be useful in keeping track of blood sugar levels and also to record the results of different tests.