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  • What is Diabetes?

    The term "diabetes mellitus" or diabetes refers to a group of diseases that affect how your body uses blood glucose, commonly called blood sugar. This is one of the diseases affecting about 285 million throughout the world,with type 2 diabetes making up about 90% of the cases. In Sri lanka we notice rapid increase of diabetes population now.
    Glucose is vital to your health because it's an important source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues. It's your brain's main source of fuel. If you have diabetes, no matter what type, it means you have too much glucose in your blood, although the reasons may differ. Too much glucose can lead to serious health problems.
    Chronic diabetes conditions include type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Potentially reversible diabetes conditions include prediabetes ( when your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes) and gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy.

  • Symptoms

    The classic symptoms of untreated diabetes are loss of weight, polyuria (frequent urination), polydipsia (increased thirst) and polyphagia (increased hunger) Symptoms may develop rapidly (weeks or months) in type 1 diabetes, while they usually develop much more slowly and may be subtle or absent in type 2 diabetes. Remember ,some patients do not show any symptom for longtime.
    Prolonged high blood glucose can cause glucose absorption in the lens of the eye, which leads to changes in its shape, resulting in vision changes. Blurred vision is a common complaint leading to a diabetes diagnosis; type 1 should always be suspected in cases of rapid vision change, whereas with type 2 change is generally more gradual, but should still be suspected a number of skin rashes that can occur in diabetes are collectively known as diabetic dermatomes
    To understand diabetes, first you must understand how glucose is normally processed in the body.

  • How glucose normally works in the body

    Glucose is a main source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and other tissues. Glucose comes from two major sources: the food you eat and your liver. During digestion, sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream. Normally, sugar then enters cells, with the help of insulin (Hormone). The hormone insulin comes from the pancreas, a gland located just behind the stomach. When you eat, your pancreas secretes insulin into your bloodstream. As insulin circulates, it acts like a key, unlocking microscopic doors that allow sugar to enter your cells. Insulin lowers the amount of sugar in your bloodstream. As your blood sugar level drops, so does the secretion of insulin from your pancreas. Your liver acts as a glucose storage and manufacturing center. When you haven't eaten in a while your liver releases stored glucose to keep your glucose level within a normal range.

  • Causes of diabetes

    Causes of type 1 diabetes

    In type 1 diabetes, your immune system — which normally fights harmful bacteria or viruses — attacks and destroys your insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. This leaves you with little or no insulin. Instead of being transported into your cells, sugar builds up in your bloodstream. Type 1 is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental factors, though exactly what those factors are is still unclear.

    Causes of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes

    In prediabetes , (which can lead to type 2diabetes ) and in type 2diabetes, your cells become resistant to the action of insulin, and your pancreas is unable to make enough insulin to overcome this resistance. Instead of moving into your cells, sugar levels increase in your bloodstream. Exactly why this happens is uncertain, although as in type 1 diabetes, it's believed that genetic and environmental factors play a role in the development of type 2. Being overweight is strongly linked to the development of type 2 diabetes, but not everyone with type 2 is overweight.

    Causes of gestational diabetes

    During pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones to sustain your pregnancy. These hormones make your cells more resistant to insulin. As your placenta grows larger in the second and third trimesters, it secretes more of these hormones — making it even harder for insulin to do its job. Normally, your pancreas responds by producing enough extra insulin to overcome this resistance. But sometimes your pancreas can't keep up. When this happens, too little glucose gets into your cells and too much stays in your blood. This is gestational diabetes.

    Prevention of Diabetes

    Prevention is always better. Type 1 diabetes can't be prevented. However, the same healthy lifestyle choices that help treat prediabetes, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes can help prevent them.

    bullet  Eat healthy foods. Choose foods low in fat, sugar and oil. Do not eat refined grains, saturated    fat, Trans fat and cholesterol. Focus on fruits, vegetables, low fat milk products and whole     grains. Avoid fast foods with high sugar, salt and fat.
        Cakes, Ice creams, high sugary biscuits, chocolates, pudding, soft drinks are not essentials for     life, so avoid these foods. Do not encourage children to eat these unhealthy types of meals. Do     not follow the advertisements, most of them give you wrong information.
    bullet  Get more physical activity. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day. Take a brisk     walk daily. Ride your bike or swim laps. If you can't fit in a long workout, break it up into smaller     sessions spread throughout the day. Do not use elevators every time, use stairs. Play with your     kids.
    bullet  Lose excess weight. If you're overweight, losing even 5 percent of your body weight — for    example, 5 kilograms if you weigh 100 kilograms — can reduce the risk of diabetes. Maintain     healthy BMI value. To keep your weight in a healthy range, focus on permanent changes to your    eating and exercise habits. Motivate yourself by remembering the benefits of losing weight,     such as a healthier heart, more energy and improved self-esteem.

    Sometimes medication is an option as well. Oral diabetes drugs such as metformin may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes — but healthy lifestyle choices remain essential.

  • Alternative Medicine and Diabetes

    Numerous substances have been shown in some studies to improve insulin sensitivity, yet other studies have failed to find any benefit for blood sugar control or in lowering A1C levels. Because of the conflicting findings, no alternative therapies are currently recommended for diabetes control. Some of the substances that have shown promise in helping to control blood sugar include: (Caffeine, Cinnamon, Ginseng)
    If you decide that you'd like to try an alternative therapy, don't stop taking the medications that your doctor has prescribed, and discuss the use of any of these therapies with your doctor to be sure that they won't cause adverse reactions with your current therapy.
    Additionally, there are no treatments ( alternative or conventional ) that can cure diabetes, so it's critical that people who are on insulin therapy for diabetes don't stop using insulin unless directed to do so by their physician.