Diabetes is a disease in which the individual’s body is unable to convert glucose (sugar) to energy. Every cell in our body needs the energy to function.
The food that we eat is digested in the stomach and intestines. Among the products of digestion is glucose. Glucose is then absorbed into the bloodstream and distributed throughout the cells in the body.
The pancreas (a gland behind the stomach) responds when there is lots of sugar in the blood by producing a hormone called insulin.
Insulin is needed to help transfer the sugar from the blood to the cells where it is converted to energy.
With diabetes, insulin is no longer produced in sufficient amounts by the pancreas or the insulin produced is not working properly.
Since glucose is not converted to energy, it accumulates in the blood and individuals with high blood sugar will have the following symptoms:
- Polyuria – frequent urination
- Polydipsia – excessive thirst
- Polyphagia – excessive hunger, large intake of food
- Feeling very tired
- Wounds that heal slowly
- Weight loss
- Blurred vision
The two main types of diabetes are:
- Type 1 or insulin-dependent diabetes (juvenile diabetes) which generally affects children, teenagers, and young adults and daily insulin injections are needed.
- Type 2 or non-insulin dependent diabetes (adult-onset diabetes) which generally affects people over the age of 45 years and is treated by positive lifestyle changes like eating healthy and exercising regularly. Meds and insulin injections are occasionally necessary.
The second type is the more prevalent form of diabetes.
Hyperglycemia and Complications
The persistence of hyperglycemia motivates the beta cells of the pancreas to produce more insulin, which can cause the beta cells to begin to exhaust its capacity to manufacture insulin.
Eventually, this could lead to beta cell malfunction, which will decrease insulin production and make blood glucose levels to rise even further, creating a destructive cycle of metabolic, biochemical and hormonal imbalances.
Over a time of many years, these imbalances spread more damage to more cells and lead to a variety of complications which includes:
- Damage to Arteries – around 2 out of every 3 diabetics die of heart disease. With time, high blood sugar levels harm the blood vessels, resulting in a greater risk of clots. This enhances your risk of a heart attack. Diabetics are also at a greater risk for stroke due to blood vessel injury.
- Damage to Kidneys – the possibility of having chronic kidney disease increases over time in diabetics. Diabetes is the most frequent cause of renal failure. Controlling your blood sugar reduces your risk of kidney failure. Diabetics can take medications to reduce the risk of kidney disease.
- Damage to Eyes – over time, elevated sugar levels can cause damage to the tiny blood vessels within the retina of the eye (diabetic retinopathy). This can lead to gradual and permanent vision loss. This condition is the most common cause of new blindness.
- Damage Causing Nerve Injury – tingling, numbness, and a feeling of “pins and needles” are also symptoms of nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy). This is most common in the hand, feet, fingers or toes. Again, controlling your blood sugar level can prevent this complication.
- Damage to Feet – because of nerve damage, it will become hard to feel and avoid injuries to the feet. Additionally, damage to the blood vessels can decrease circulation in the feet resulting in poor healing. Sores and gangrene are complications of diabetes that can occur in the feet. This may result in amputation in severe cases.
The fundamental objective in treating type 1 and type 2 diabetes is to control blood glucose (sugar) levels within the normal range, with little swings to low or high levels.
Type 1 diabetes is treated with:
- Diabetic diet
Type 2 diabetes is treated:
- Primarily with weight reduction, a diabetic diet, and exercise.
- When the above measures fail to handle the elevated blood sugar of type 2 diabetes, oral medications are given.
- Insulin treatment is started if oral medications become ineffective.
Sticking to a diabetic diet is a crucial factor in controlling blood sugar in diabetics. Your physician or dietician will provide you with guidelines for food preparation. Your food must be:
- Low in fat, cholesterol, and simple sugars
Weight Loss and Exercise
Weight loss and exercise are necessary treatments for type 2 diabetes. Weight loss and exercise boost the sensitivity of the cells to insulin (countering insulin resistance), thus helping to control blood sugar elevations.
Take the first step and contact us through our no-cost virtual consultation. During this process, we will recommend options that will work best for you. Every client is different, so our virtual consultants and physicians tailor the treatment to match each person’s needs.