Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way the body processes glucose, the main source of energy for the body. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to serious health complications, including heart disease, kidney failure, stroke, nerve damage, and blindness.
There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.
Type 1 Diabetes: Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. As a result, people with type 1 diabetes do not produce enough insulin, and they need to take insulin injections or use an insulin pump to manage their condition.
Type 2 Diabetes: Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or does not use insulin properly. This can be due to a combination of factors, including genetics, unhealthy lifestyle habits, and a lack of physical activity
The following are common symptoms of diabetes:
- Increased thirst and frequent urination
- Extreme hunger
- Unexpected weight loss
- Fatigue and weakness
- Blurred vision
- Slow-healing cuts or sores
- Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
- Yeast infections
- Dry and itchy skin
Not everyone with diabetes will experience symptoms, and in some cases, symptoms may develop gradually over time.
Risk Factors for Diabetes:
There are several risk factors that can increase your likelihood of developing diabetes, including:
- Age: The risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases as you get older.
- Family history: If a parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes, you may be at an increased risk of developing the condition.
- Obesity: Carrying excess weight can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Unhealthy lifestyle habits: A diet that is high in added sugars and unhealthy fats, combined with a lack of physical activity, can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure can damage the blood vessels and increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
To diagnose diabetes, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history and will perform a physical exam. They may also perform one or more of the following tests to confirm the diagnosis:
- Fasting Blood Glucose Test: This test measures the level of glucose in your blood after you have gone without food for at least eight hours. A high fasting blood glucose level may indicate diabetes.
- Hemoglobin A1C Test: This test measures the average blood glucose level over the past two to three months. A high Hemoglobin A1C level may indicate diabetes.
- Oral Glucose Tolerance Test: This test measures the level of glucose in your blood after you have consumed a sugar-rich drink. A high glucose level may indicate diabetes.
There is no cure for diabetes, but with proper management and prompt diagnosis, people with diabetes can live long and healthy lives. Here are some tips for preventing and managing diabetes:
- Eat a healthy diet: Focus on foods that are low in sugar and high in fiber, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins. Avoid foods that are high in added sugars, such as candy, soda, and baked goods.
- Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity can help lower your blood sugar levels, improve your cardiovascular health, and boost your overall health and well-being.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Carrying excess weight can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Quit smoking: Smoking can worsen many of the health problems associated with diabetes, including heart disease, nerve damage, and eye problems.
- Take your medications: If you have been prescribed medication for your diabetes, it’s important to take it as directed. This can help you keep your blood sugar levels in check and reduce your risk of complications.
If you suspect you may have diabetes, it’s important to consult your physician to get a proper diagnosis and start treatment as soon as possible.
About The Author
Dr. Coco is a highly-educated and well-qualified primary care physician who graduated from the University of the Philippines Baguio with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and her Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center. She completed her three-year residency training in Family Medicine at Brokenshire Medical Center. She passed her diplomate exams in Family Medicine, given by the Philippine Academy of Family Physicians in 2018.
Dr. Coco is dedicated to providing comprehensive and holistic care for her patients. She is a primary care physician who believes in delivering continuing comprehensive health care for all. To her, patients are not just a number as she takes time to analyse how she can improve their overall health every chance they can get.