What Is Diabetes?
More than 285 million people currently suffer from diabetes worldwide, according to the International Diabetes Federation. This is a worrying phenomenon which has been described as a "real pandemic". In fact, over the last ten years, the prevalence of diabetes has increased considerably: the number of people living with diabetes has more than doubled since 1996.
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that results in an abnormally high level of glucose in the blood - this is known as hyperglycemia. The disorder is caused by a malfunction of the system of assimilation and storage of sugars brought by the diet. Specifically, it is related to a dysfunction in the hormone made by pancreatic cells, insulin. When you eat, the blood sugar levels rise through the conversion of food carbohydrates into glucose. When the body detects this increase, it triggers the secretion of insulin in the pancreas. Once released, the hormone will promote the storage of glucose in the cells and in the liver, lowering blood sugar again. In people with diabetes, this system no longer works, leading to hyperglycemia.
There are different types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes which occurs during pregnancy. The causes of these different types of diabetes are not the same.
Different Types Of Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes, formerly known as "insulin-dependent" diabetes or "juvenile" diabetes, is usually found in young people: children, adolescents or young adults. This form, which affects 10% of people with diabetes, occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. This is due to an autoimmune reaction. For reasons that are still unknown, the body starts to attack and destroy certain pancreatic cells that can no longer produce the essential hormone. In the absence of insulin, glucose can not leave the blood and blood glucose remains constantly high even on an empty stomach.
Type 2 diabetes, sometimes called "non-insulin-dependent" diabetes, appears in older people. This is the most common form: it affects 80% of diabetics and uses a mechanism different from that of type 1. In these diabetics, the production of insulin is usually normal, however, the hormone is misused. Although it is released, the cells no longer react to its presence: this is known as insulin resistance. In fact, the glucose stays in the blood, leading to hyperglycemia. Faced with this resistance, the pancreas starts to produce more insulin, which ends up exhausting it. In the long run, it can no longer ensure sufficient hormone production.
Symptoms Of Diabetes
Constant hyperglycemia has many consequences on the body and causes a whole series of symptoms. However, the signs are generally more discreet in the case of type 2 diabetes. The latter can thus evolve gradually without the person realizing it. The main symptoms are:
- an increase in thirst and hunger
- an urge to urinate
- excessive weakness and fatigue
- rapid and unexplained weight loss
- more frequent infections
- slowing down the healing process in case of a wound
- a dry eye or blurred vision
If you experience these symptoms you must consult a doctor who will carry out tests to confirm the presence of diabetes. The diagnosis is made by a fasting blood test. If fasting blood glucose is equal to or greater than 1.26 g / l twice, diabetes is confirmed. Complementary examinations may be performed to assess the patient's overall health.
The Treatment Of Diabetes
Today, diabetes is an incurable disease. Nevertheless, if not treated daily, it can lead to serious complications for the body. That's why it's important to diagnose diabetes to treat and control it as soon as possible. As type 1 diabetes is caused by an absence of insulin, the treatment will consist of daily injections of hormone that will help lower blood sugar.
For type 2 diabetes, which is often characterized by obesity and lack of physical activity, the treatment is more complex. First of all, it consists of lifestyle and dietary measures designed to promote physical activity and a varied and balanced diet. Added to this, anti-diabetic treatments can be prescribed that will stimulate the action of insulin on the cells of the body. When the pancreas can no longer make enough insulin, hormone injections, as in type 1 diabetes, are needed. In both cases, the goal of the treatments is to normalize the blood sugar to reduce the impact on the body. Whilst medical follow-up and regular exams are needed, diabetics can live a normal working life.