Diabetes 101

Diabetes 101

Diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, an organ at the top of the abdomen, behind the stomach. It occurs when the pancreas stop functioning normally and is unable to produce enough levels of insulin for the body. Insulin controls the amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood and its rate of absorption. The human body needs glucose to produce energy. However, for those who suffer from diabetes, the glucose builds up in the bloodstream instead of being absorbed into the cells. This leads to hyperglycemia - where there is a very high level of glucose in the blood. Subsequently, it leads to damaged blood vessels resulting in eye and cardiovascular complications, nerve damage to the limbs and internal organs and even kidney failure.

What is Pre Diabetes ?

Pre diabetes occurs when the body's glucose level is higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Some individuals may face cardiovascular complications even at this pre diabetes stage. Known as Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT), those with Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT) have a 1 in 3 chance of developing Type II diabetes within 10 years and up to 16% of Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT) patients progress to Type II diabetes each year.

In patients with Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT), a combination of exercise and weight reduction has been shown to be the most effective method of reducing the risk of diabetes. Therefore, exercise and weight reduction should be recommended for all patients with Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT). Currently, diabetes experts do not recommend drugs as a treatment for Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT), but this could change in future when more studies are available.

Ways to treat Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT)

Losing weight, opting for a healthier diet and exercising will help those with Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT) to prevent or delay its progression to diabetes and reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications.

Types of diabetes

  • Type I Diabetes - Also known as Insulin Dependant Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM), this type of diabetes requires insulin treatment and is less common in Asians. It often occurs in younger patients and can even affect young children. For individuals with Insulin Dependant Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM), insulin produced by the body is either totally absent or severely reduced, therefore they need external sources of insulin.

  • Type II Diabetes - Type II diabetes is extremely common worldwide. It often occurs in adults and its prevalence increases with age. It is often associated with obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and is more common in affluent societies. Type II diabetes can be treated with a change in diet and drugs. For more severe cases, some patients may still need insulin treatment.

Symptoms of diabetes :

  • fatigue
  • increased urination
  • hunger
  • dizziness
  • excessive sweating
  • sudden weight loss
  • blurred vision
  • numbness of hands and feet
  • skin infections
  • slow healing ability

Genetics do play a part in the development of diabetes. If you have a family history of diabetes, are overweight and have a sedentary lifestyle, it is good to have your blood glucose level regularly monitored. This can be done through a urine-analysis or a simple blood test. Early detection is key to keep diabetes under control and also to help prevent it. So it is crucial that you go for regular health assessments if you suspect that you may be in the high-risk group.

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