Diabetes 101: What It Is and How to Manage It Effectively
Diabetes is one of the health conditions a lot of people are wary and scared about. Data from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) highlighted that in 2021, an estimated 4,303,900 Filipino adults had this disease. Moreover, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that diabetes was responsible for 38,854 deaths in the country for the period of January to October 2021.
There is no known cure for it and typically, patients with diabetes may be asymptomatic. If symptoms do develop, the most common ones are frequent urination and excessive thirst, and some may even complain of weight loss.
If you’re concerned about your own health and your loved ones’ safety against a chronic disease like diabetes, learn more about this disease with this quick read.
What Are the Common Types of Diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition wherein your body is unable to produce enough insulin or fails to use already produced hormones efficiently leading to insulin resistance. Insulin regulates glucose levels in the bloodstream and induces glucose storage in the liver, muscles, and tissue. If high blood sugar is left untreated, you may be at risk of developing conditions like heart and/or kidney disease, or vision loss. Though Diabetes Mellitus is not limited to these, here are the three known classifications of diabetes:
- Type 1 diabetes: This develops as a result of an autoimmune reaction where the body mistakenly attacks the cells responsible for insulin production, making the pancreas produce very little to no insulin. Genetics play a role in the development of Type 1 diabetes, while its association with environmental factors like viruses and toxins are being explored.
Individuals diagnosed to have Type 1 diabetes are typically younger, with the disease starting before the age of 30. They have lean body builds, are prone to have diabetic emergencies, and are treated with multiple insulin injections.
- Type 2 diabetes: People with Type 2 diabetes often struggle with insulin resistance, wherein their body’s cells fail to properly respond to insulin and cannot utilize blood glucose for energy which later on leads to elevated blood sugar levels. Onset of Type 2 diabetes is usually after 30 years old, but with the changing dietary habits and lifestyle, younger people are developing Type 2 diabetes. These individuals are commonly obese, and may be treated with oral diabetes medications with or without insulin.
- Gestational diabetes: This is often described as glucose intolerance that develops during the second or third trimester of pregnancy. It is very important to identify pregnant women with gestational diabetes, as uncontrolled sugars may lead to complications such as, preterm labor, stillbirth, and others. Gestational diabetes is managed through medical nutrition therapy. When blood sugars remain uncontrolled despite change in diet, insulin is usually the next treatment option.
How Can You Address Diabetes?
As with most health conditions, it’s vital that you talk to a doctor right away if you’re dealing with diabetes symptoms or are at risk for it. Because there is no known cure for diabetes yet, health professionals recommend that you make lifestyle changes to mitigate complications. If you or someone you know is diabetic, it’s important to:
- Monitor your blood sugar levels frequently.
- Eat as much healthy food as possible and drink lots of water.
- Limit intake of carbohydrates and other food items that contain lots of sugar. Even food high in salt should be limited.
- Squeeze in as much exercise into your daily routine. But as always, consult your doctor first as certain exercises may not be recommended, especially for diabetic patients with complications.
- Find ways to relieve stress.
- If you have relatives who were previously diagnosed with diabetes, or if you have symptoms of hyperglycemia (such as frequent urination, increased thirst, blurred vision, Fatigue) , obesity, and other comorbidities, you may opt to have yourself screened or tested to check if you have a high risk for diabetes. At the same time, practice healthy lifestyle habits to reduce your diabetes risk.
Are There Medicines for Diabetes?
There is not one treatment regimen applicable to all patients with diabetes. The choice depends on the current level of sugar control, presence of disease complications, other comorbidities, adverse reactions to medications and the goals set by both the patient and the healthcare provider.
Some doctors may prescribe diabetes medicines such as injectable insulin or oral diabetes medicine, alongside proper diet and exercise. Glimepiride, Metformin and Gliclazide are some examples of oral diabetes medicines used for the control of blood sugar among Type 2 diabetes patients.
As always, please consult your doctor to know which medication is right for you. Most diabetes medications would require prescriptions before purchase, and take them only as recommended by the doctor.
American Diabetes Association Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes 2022
Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine 20th Edition
International Diabetes Federation 2021 Atlas