What is Diabetes (2021)?
Diabetes (2021). There are two main variations of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. With type 1 diabetes, your body is unable to make insulin. With type 2 diabetes, your body is unable to produce enough insulin. Gestational diabetes is a type that some women get during pregnancy and then can disappear after the baby’s birth. There are also rarer forms such as type 3c and Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults. Blood glucose levels increase as a result and therefore start to cause problems in the body resulting in the symptoms associated with diabetes.
Symptoms to look for in Diabetes (2021)
- Feeling thirsty more than usual.
- Blurry vision.
- Lack of energy and tiredness.
- Itching of genitals or thrush.
- Wounds and cuts taking longer to heal.
- Weight loss without trying.
How Diabetes (2021) works in the body
All types of diabetes have one similarity. They cause the body to have high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. When our bodies commonly break down carbohydrates, it’s then turned into glucose which our bodies use for energy. The role of insulin then plays a significant factor in controlling the amount of glucose in our cells. Having diabetes means the amount of glucose entering the blood is difficult to manage.
Severe effects of diabetes (2021)
If you poorly control glucose levels, severe damage can occur to your feet, heart, kidneys and eyes.
Heart attack and stroke – Having high levels of sugar in the blood can, on occasions, lead to heart attacks or stroke.
Gum disease – An increase in blood sugar can increase the saliva produced in the mouth, which then increases the acid and targets tooth enamel, and causes gum damage
Damage to nerves – Over time, high blood sugar can affect how the nerves pass signals to the brain, affecting our movements, speech and hearing.
Kidney damage – High glucose levels can affect how the kidneys clear the waste and fluid from your body.
Retinopathy – diabetic retinopathy is usually found during eye screening and is preventable and treatable.
Problems with feet – Raised sugar levels can damage your circulation, making it longer for cuts and bruises to heal. If untreated, in some cases, it can lead to amputation. It’s essential to see your GP if you notice changes to how your feet feel.
Sexual problems – In men and women, the amount of blood flowing to your sexual organs may reduce sensation and have difficulty with arousal.
Being diagnosed with prediabetes means your sugar levels are higher than usual but not enough to be interpreted as type 2 diabetes. Thus, you may be at risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
There is a lot you can do to check
Use the NHS Know Your Risk online, which will show you whether you’re high, low or somewhere in between and only takes a few minutes to do. Your GP may then refer you to the Diabetes Prevention Programme for England.
There are healthier lifestyle choices you can make which reduce your risk. Increasing the amount you move and losing weight can avoid half of all type 2 diabetes cases. Go to your GP if you’re concerned that you may have some of the symptoms. The sooner you find out, the better it can be managed and controlled.
Losing just 5% of your body weight can significantly reduce your chance of type 2 diabetes. Having extra weight around your stomach can result in fat building up around organs like the pancreas and liver, causing insulin resistance increasing the glucose in your blood. Make sure your weight and BMI are at a healthy level. If you have a large waist measurement, it could still increase your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Small changes to how much you move everyday can add up to a healthier weight, this could be just starting at your local neighbourhood or park and going for a short walk, swimming or running if you’re more able. Plan meals for the week, this ensures you don’t reach for quick ready meals or unhealthy take always. Plan your activity days and make it a time when you’re free, early morning before work, lunch break or after work are all great times to incorporate a physical activity.
Remission of diabetes (2021)
By implementing small changes such as increasing your exercise and having a healthier diet, you can maintain healthy blood sugar levels without taking medication. Evidence shows that by losing weight you stand the best chance of putting your diabetes into remission. If you suffer from obesity then losing 2st 5lbs after you’re diagnosed and keeping a healthier lifestyle. Factors such as our age, family history and ethnic backgrounds all play a role in our risk of type 2 diabetes. Losing weight can also lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, regular checks with your GP can ensure you know your blood sugar levels are ok.
Getting tested for diabetes (2021)
The type of diabetes you have may have factors such as family history, weight, age of diagnosis and how quickly the symptoms came about taken into consideration by a blood test. It can also tell you if you are at risk in the future of type 2 diabetes. Blood ketone levels are tested for when checking for type 1 diabetes after an initial blood test.
The HbA1c tests your blood sugar levels for the last two or three months. Once blood is taken from a vein in your arm, your results are provided within a few days. If your level is 48mmol/mol or above, then diabetes is present. At levels of 42-48mmol/mol, you are at risk of type 2 diabetes. If you are showing more symptoms, then a finger prick or vein will test the blood sugar levels at a random time of day. A level of 11.1mmol/l at any time of the day means you have diabetes.
Other tests include the fasting blood sugar test(FPG) requires you to fast for 8 hours before your test. If the levels are 7mmol/l, you’ll be diagnosed with diabetes. The Oral Glucose Tolerance Test(OGTT) is typically used for gestational diabetes in pregnancy and requires a blood sample after fasting and another after having a sugary drink. A fasting result of 5.6mmol/l and 7.8mmol/l after the second test will determine if you have gestational diabetes.
Managing diabetes (2021)
Once you are diagnosed with diabetes, many different types of support are available, from healthy meals to exercise ideas to help control your blood sugar levels. Your GP will advise you about what steps to take next and whether you’ll need medication.
- Type 1 diabetes – Patients will use insulin or pump, and patients may also need an Islet cell transplant to stop severe hypos.
- Type 2 diabetes – Insulin or tablets may be given, though primarily exercise and healthier eating will be the first port of call. Metformin is usually the most common, but there are others. In some cases, you may need to get your weight to a healthy level first to see if that works rather than being put on medication straight away.
- For other types, there will be different treatment options. Most cases can be treated by increasing exercise and eating healthy balanced meals; losing weight alone can put type 2 diabetes into remission and give you a more positive outlook for your health and body.
Visit diabetes.org.uk and nhs.co.uk for more information and advice.