Whether it is on the TV news, on the radio or in our everyday circle of friends, all of us have heard at least once of diabetes. Sadly, diabetes is such a widespread disease, that in 99% of the cases, we know someone who knows someone who is suffering or has in his family suffering from diabetes. Before asking ourselves what are the symptoms of diabetes, we must understand what this illness is and why do humans get it.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a health condition in which our bodies are unable to maintain healthy blood glucose levels (65 to 110 milligrams per dL of blood). Glucose a part of the fuel our body uses.
The key factor for the conversion of glucose in energy is a hormone called insulin, which is released by our pancreas. In this illness, our pancreas is no longer able to release the hormone, and because of that, our glucose is no longer used to produce energy. Instead, it is stocked in our blood which leads to serious health issues.
Is diabetes a stand alone illness?
Like many other diseases, diabetes is not a singular disease. There are two types of diabetes, and both are related to the hormone insulin as follows. In type one diabetes, our immune system attacks and destroys the cells in our pancreas responsible for making insulin and it can affect people independent of their age. Type two diabetes, which is the most common, is caused by the incapacity of our pancreas to make insulin.
Who is more prone to developing diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is caused by mechanisms that science has not been able to explain. This means that type 1 diabetes can affect anyone, at any age, whether they are 10 or 50, whether they are athletes or do not practice sports at all.
Type 2 diabetes is heavily linked to family history (if someone in your family has had diabetes), and being overweight. Exercising daily and having a healthy lifestyle will drastically decrease your chance of getting diabetes, and I’ll explain why. Belly fat alters the balance of leptin and adiponectin, two hormones that play a role in the body’s insulin resistance. This translates to: more belly fat, the higher the risk of getting diabetes.
How can I prevent the installment of diabetes?
I cannot stress enough that a healthy lifestyle means more than just eating healthy. The well being of our body should be a combination between balanced meals, exercising daily and getting enough rest. This will prevent obesity and will, in the long term, drastically decrease our chances of getting diabetes.
Exercise at least 30 minutes daily, eat 3 meals and 2 snacks based on your necessary caloric intake and once in a while calculate your BMI. You can do that here.
Besides having serious impact on our respiratory and cardiovascular systems, smoking causes insulin resistance as well.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
The most common symptoms of diabetes and their causes are the following:
- Frequent urination: which is caused by the incapacity of the kidneys to filter glucose. Kidneys will require more water to dilute the glucose, causing you to urinate more often.
- Drinking more water than usual: This relates directly to the fact that you excrete more urine than usual.
- Inexplicable hunger: which is the result of our bodies not being able to transform glucose into energy, forcing our brain to think that we need to find food.
- Weight gain is a consequence of the above mentioned symptom.
- Blurred vision caused by the lack of fluid in our eyes.
- Numbness of the feet and hands. This symptom is caused by the damage glucose does to the nerves as well as the capillaries that feed the hands and feet with blood.
What are the complications of diabetes?
All the complications of diabetes relate to the fact that the main target of the attack is our cardiovascular system. Thus, diabetics are more prone to:
- Heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure.
- Diabetic neuropathy which is caused by the narrowing of the blood vessels that supply the nerves.
- Kidney damage because the kidneys are not getting enough blood. Severe damage may eventually cause dialysis or a kidney transplant.
- Damage to the lower limbs. Because of the loss of sense in the foot, cuts and bruises will heal really slow, and if left untreated amputation of the toe, foot or leg may be required.
- Eye damage which is caused by the obstruction of the capillaries in the eyes. This leads to glaucoma and/or cataracts.
Management of diabetes
Management of diabetes must and will include the measuring of our blood glucose levels. This can be done in the comfort of our homes using two devices. One is a small electronic piece of equipment in which a strip used to read the data is introduced. The other is a small medical needle used to perforate the tip of our finger.
Besides evaluating our blood glucose level, we must maintain a healthy lifestyle and address a physician certified in nutrition and diabetics for further guidance.