What is Diabetes ?

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What is Diabetes? Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder that occurs when your blood sugar levels are higher than they should be. This condition can increase the risk of heart problems, kidney diseases and impact other parts of the body overtime.

Diabetes or Diabetes Mellitus is a chronic metabolic disorder characterised by high blood glucose levels, commonly known as blood sugar levels. It usually occurs when your body is unable to produce enough insulin or cannot effectively utilise the insulin it produces. As per the World Health Organization (WHO), insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates the absorption and utilisation of glucose by the cells in the body.

An estimated 77 million adults over 18 have type 2 diabetes, and almost 25 million are pre-diabetics in India. More than 50 percent of people are unaware that they are suffering from a serious disease like diabetes, which is even more dangerous, as per WHO.

There are many types of diabetes, two of which are more common: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes develops during early childhood, and type 2 diabetes gets diagnosed later in life and occurs due to lifestyle factors such as obesity and physical inactivity. Regardless of which type of diabetes you develop, you have to control blood sugar levels to avoid complications. If left uncontrolled, diabetes can lead to various complications, including heart disease, nerve damage, vision problems, kidney damage, and several other health problems.

Some of the best ways to manage diabetes are monitoring regular blood sugar levels, adopting a healthy diet, engaging in physical activity, and in some cases, taking medication or insulin. It is vital to get it checked early on and know if you are at risk or not. Early detection and proper management of diabetes are vital to prevent complications and maintain overall health.

What is Diabetes? Causes of Diabetes

The causes of diabetes can vary depending on the kind of diabetes that has affected you. Here are some of the primary causes of diabetes

What is Diabetes 1?

Autoimmune factors: In type 1 diabetes, the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells (beta cells) in the pancreas. The cause of this autoimmune response is not fully understood, but genetic and environmental factors are believed to play a role.

what is diabetes

What is diabetes 2?

  • Insulin resistance: It is a condition where the body’s cells become less responsive to insulin. This leads to high blood sugar levels. The exact mechanism behind insulin resistance is not fully understood, but it is influenced by genetic and lifestyle factors.
  • Genetic factors: Family history and genetics can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Certain gene variants can affect insulin production , insulin sensitivity, and other factors involved in glucose metabolism.

Gestational diabetes

  • Hormonal changes: The changes in your hormones can interfere with insulin, leading to gestational diabetes.
  • Insulin production: Some women may not produce enough insulin to meet the increased insulin demands during pregnancy, leading to gestational diabetes.

Other causes

  • Being obese or overweight
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Consuming a diet rich in processed foods, sugary drinks, unhealthy fats, and low in fibre
  • Some ethnic groups such as African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Asians.

Key Facts About Diabetes

TreatmentInsulin therapyMonitoring blood sugar levelsOral medicationRegular physical activityEating a healthy dietMonitoring carbohydrate intake

Symptoms of Diabetes

Since the body is unable to regulate glucose levels if someone develops diabetes, it is vital to take note of its symptoms. Here are some of the common symptoms of diabetes you should know:

  • Increased hunger
  • Dehydration
  • Frequent urination
  • Yeast infection
  • Slow healing
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Mood swings
  • Blurry vision
  • Lethargy
  • Dry and itchy skin

Diagnosis of Diabetes

Diabetes is typically diagnosed with blood tests and clinical evaluations. While the diagnosis may be different at different medical centres, some common diagnostic techniques include:


1. Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test

This test measures the blood sugar level after an overnight fast of at least 8 hours. A blood sample is taken, and if the fasting plasma glucose level is equal to or higher than 126 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) on two separate occasions, it means that you have diabetes.

2. Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT)

For this test, the individual fasts overnight and then drinks a glucose-rich beverage. The doctor may take blood samples before the drink and at regular intervals to check the body’s response to glucose. If the blood sugar level is equal to or exceeds 200 mg/dL after 2 hours, it indicates diabetes.

3. Haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test

This is another test that measures the percentage of haemoglobin in the blood that is glycated (bound to glucose). An HbA1c level equal to or greater than 6.5 percent is indicative of diabetes.

4. Random plasma glucose test

For this test, the doctor takes a blood sample during any time of the day, regardless of when the person last ate. If the random plasma glucose level is equal to or exceeds 200 mg/dL and the individual exhibits classic symptoms of diabetes.

You may have to undergo different diagnostic tests or protocols as guided by your healthcare professional. If you have any symptoms of diabetes, consult your doctor and they will recommend the necessary treatment you require.

Treatment of Diabetes

1. Oral medication

Medication is prescribed depending on the type of diabetes and individual needs. These medications help bring down blood sugar levels.

2. Insulin therapy

Individuals with type 1 diabetes and some with type 2 diabetes may require insulin injections to regulate blood sugar levels effectively.

3. Blood sugar monitoring

If you have diabetes, it becomes vital to self-monitor blood sugar levels regularly using a glucometer. It helps individuals with diabetes to understand their glucose levels and take appropriate measures to keep them in control.

4. Regular check ups

Not just self-monitoring, it is also recommended to pay regular visits to healthcare professionals for diabetes management. Monitoring blood sugar levels, assessing overall health, managing medication and addressing complications can help manage your blood glucose levels.

5. Healthy eating

It is vital to eat a well-balanced diet that includes appropriate carbohydrate intake, portion control, and regular meal timing can help manage blood sugar levels.

6. Regular exercise

You should engage in regular physical activity to improve insulin sensitivity, manage weight and control blood sugar levels. It is essential to choose activities suitable for you and do them under the guidance of a professional.


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