Health tips: Types of diabetes and how to manage it

Diabetes is a major health trouble that has reached alarming levels. Today, millions of people are living with diabetes worldwide.

According to data from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) in 2021 it is revealed that 537 million people have diabetes, and this number is believed to reach 643 million by 2030, and 783 million by the year 2045. 

The number of children and adolescents (i.e. up to 19 years old) living with diabetes rises on a yearly basis. Direct health expenditures due to diabetes are already close to one trillion dollars and will go beyond this figure by 2030.

WHAT IS DIABETES?

Diabetes is a disease whose cause is not known and runs in families. In most people, diabetes arises when the pancreas fails to produce the insulin hormone in sufficient amounts or when the body does not make use of the insulin properly.

Insulin is a hormone that helps the body to utilize carbohydrates. It permits glucose from the bloodstream to enter the body’s cells where it is converted into energy or stored. In diabetes, sugar builds up in the blood, increases to dangerous levels (a condition called Hyperglycemia) and eventually, this excess sugar is passed out in the urine.

DANGERS OF HIGH SUGAR

Diabetes, if not monitored over the long term, can result to damage of many organs in the body organs, resulting to disabling and life-threatening health complications such as cardiovascular diseases (CVD), nerve damage (neuropathy), kidney damage (nephropathy), lower-limb amputation, and eye disease (mainly affecting the retina) resulting in visual loss and even blindness.

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For example, during the first wave of coronavirus, people diagnosed with diabetes had a 3.6-fold higher likelihood of being infected compared to those without diabetes COVID-19 infections and deaths per 100,000 are higher in countries that have a high population of diabetic patients.

However, if the right management of diabetes is followed, these serious complications can be delayed or prevented at the same time

TYPES OF DIABETES

There are 3 main types of diabetes and they are:

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is as a result of an autoimmune process in which the body’s immune system damages the insulin producing beta-cells of the pancreas. As a result, the body produces very little or no insulin

People with type 1 diabetes require daily insulin injections to keep their blood glucose level within an appropriate range. Without insulin, they would die.

Type 2 diabetes

This is the most common type of diabetes, estimated for over 90% of all diabetes worldwide. In type 2 diabetes, hyperglycemia or high sugar levels in the blood is the result, which is caused by the inability of the body’s cells to respond fully to insulin, a condition termed insulin resistance. With the onset of insulin resistance, the hormone is less effective and, in time, results to an increase in insulin production

Gestational Diabetes

This type of diabetes is recorded among pregnant women and it is characterized by harmful high levels of sugar in the blood (a condition known as hyperglycemia). Data from the IDF shows that hyperglycemia in pregnancy (HIP) affects approximately one in six pregnancies worldwide.

Pregnant women with gestational diabetes can have babies that are large for gestational age, thereby increasing the risk of pregnancy and birth complications for the mother and baby.

HOW TO MANAGE DIABETES

  • FOOD: As a diabetic patient it is advisable you book an appointment with a food nutritionist and get a meal plan. Diabetic patients are often advised to take a well balanced meal avoiding or limiting the intake of carbohydrates. It is also advisable that you take more of vegetables and fruits like watermelon, cucumber, apple e.t.c
  • EXERCISE: When you exercise, your muscles use sugar (glucose) for energy. Regular physical activity also helps your body use insulin more efficiently.
  • MEDICATION: Insulin and other diabetes medications are designed to reduce your blood sugar levels when diet and exercise aren’t sufficient for managing diabetes. But the effectiveness of these medications depends on the timing and size of the dose.

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