Lab Talk
September 16, 2020

Diabetes In A Nutshell

Diabetes is a metabolic condition that is associated with high blood sugar. High blood sugar happens when insulin is not effectively used or produced in the body. Insulin, a hormone that regulates and moves glucose into our body cells, is produced by an organ referred to as the pancreas. Once this hormone is not effectively produced or used, sugar (glucose) builds up in the body, thereby leading to a high level of blood sugar.

Types of Diabetes

There are plenty of forms of diabetes. Three (3) are the common types.

Type 1 diabetes: This is an autoimmune condition that occurs when the immune system damages the pancreas that produces insulin, and the damage caused to the pancreas results in a lack of insulin. Type 1 diabetes can be caused by genes or problems with cells in the pancreas.

Type 2 diabetes: This type of diabetes happens when the body becomes resistant to insulin and sugar builds up in the body.

Gestational diabetes: This happens in pregnant women and is caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy. In the body of a pregnant woman, the placenta produces hormones that make the body cells less sensitive to the effects of insulin.

Risk Factors for Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes: This type of diabetes usually starts in childhood and is caused by family history, disease of the pancreas, and illness that can cause damage to the pancreas.

Type 2 diabetes: Individual chances of developing type 2 diabetes depend on a combination of risk factors such as genes and lifestyle. The combination of risk factors is associated with age, obesity, lack of physical activity, family history, and high blood pressure.

Gestational diabetes: Risk factors for this type of diabetes include being overweight, insulin resistance, hormonal disease, the birth of a baby who weighs more than 5kg, a family history of type 2 diabetes, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Symptoms of Diabetes

Symptoms of diabetes vary, depending on the type. However, there are some common symptoms, and these include:

  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Increased hunger and fatigue
  • Dry mouth and itchy skin
  • Blurred vision
  • Unexplained weight loss

Type 1 diabetes is associated with symptoms such as unexplained weight loss, frequent urination, hunger, thirst, blurry vision, tiredness, and mood changes. Type 2 diabetes includes the common symptoms in addition to tingling and numbness in the feet or hands, bruises that are slow to heal, and darkened skin. Gestational diabetes is associated with symptoms such as increased thirst, urination, and tiredness.

If left untreated or poorly managed, diabetes can lead to major health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and other chronic diseases.

Prevention of Diabetes

The prevention procedure for type 1 diabetes is yet to be discovered, but it can be managed by:

  • Managing your blood sugar
  • Regular visits to a healthcare provider for checkups
  • Understanding the self-management of diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes can be prevented by:

  • Engaging in physical activity
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
  • Avoiding smoking
  • Eating a healthy diet and curtailing sugar and saturated fats.

Gestational diabetes can be prevented with these recommendations:

  • Stay healthy and prepare your body for pregnancy
  • Improve your diet and eat healthy foods
  • Engage in physical activity
  • Reduce your weight.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Diabetes

Early detection of diabetes is essential to aid proper management. The condition can be diagnosed through clinical analysis of blood and urine with equipment such as the Cobas Chemistry Systems c111, and c311.

Treatment and management of diabetes include the following:

  • Effective monitoring of blood sugar level, using glucose meters known as Accu-Chek, Accu-Chek Instant, and Accu-Chek Active.
  • Prescribed medications to control blood sugar level depending on the type of diabetes
  • Diet change and injectable medications or insulin for individuals with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

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Sources:

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