Diabetes: Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Home remedy

Overview

Diabetes, also called diabetes mellitus, is a condition characterized by high levels of glucose(sugar) in the blood. People with diabetes may have some serious health complications, such as heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and low-extremity amputations.

According to CDC,

  • 30.3 million US adults have diabetes, and 1 in 4 of them don’t know they have it.
  • Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
  • Diabetes is the No. 1 cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations, and adult blindness.
  • In the last 20 years, the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than tripled.

How diabetes develops

In order to understand how diabetes develops, you’ll have to know about what glucose and insulin are.

Glucose (blood sugar) is an important source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues. It’s also your brain’s main source of fuel.

Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas, an organ near the stomach. It helps glucose from food get into your cells to be used for energy.

When your body doesn’t produce enough insulin and/or doesn’t well use the insulin it produces, glucose will not be able to reach the cells and then stay in your blood. Thereupon, sugar levels rise in your bloodstream. In consequence, your body’s cells will be short of energy. Your eyes, kidneys, nerves or heart may be damaged because of high blood glucose levels. This is the development of diabetes.

Types of diabetes

There are three common types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes

Although the exact cause of type 1 diabetes hasn’t been identified, it is known that your immune system attacks and destroys your insulin-producing cells in the pancreas if you have this type of diabetes. That means your body can’t make insulin for you. You must take insulin or other medications daily to compensate for insufficient amounts of insulin. Therefore, this type of diabetes is also referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes.

In addition, Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, so it is previously called juvenile diabetes. But Type 1 diabetes actually can affect people at any age.

Type 2 diabetes

This type of diabetes is the most common one. If you develop Type 2 diabetes, that means your body doesn’t produce or use insulin well. It often occurs in middle-aged and older people. However, rate of developing Type 2 diabetes for adolescents and young adults keeps rising rapidly due to higher rates of obesity and physical inactivity which are believed to be risk factors.

Gestational diabetes

Some women may develop gestational diabetes when they are pregnant. During pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones to sustain your pregnancy. They make your cells more resistant to insulin, which may discourage glucose from entering your cells. This condition will lead to gestational diabetes. In most cases, this diabetes will disappear after the child is born. But if you have had gestational diabetes, you will be at a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life. What’s worse is that sometimes diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy is actually Type 2 diabetes.

Other types of diabetes

Compared with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, other types are less common. They include monogenic diabetes, an inherited form of diabetes, and cystic fibrosis-related diabetes.

Prevalence

In the United States, every 21 seconds someone is diagnosed with diabetes. Furthermore, about 7.2 million people with diabetes are currently undiagnosed. In most cases, people are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, accounting for more than 90 percent of patients with diabetes. Among Americans aged 65 years or older, 25.2 percent have diabetes.

Risk factors

For Type 1 diabetes:

  • Genetics and family history
  • The presence of autoantibodies in which the insulin-producing cells are attacked.
  • Environmental factors or possible virus exposure.
  • Caucasian race; Finnish and Swedish people seem to have a higher risk for Type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes can’t be prevented.

For Type 2 diabetes:

  • Overweight (body mass index [BMI] ≥25 kg/m2) or obese (BMI ≥30 kg/m2).
  • A parent, brother, or sister with diabetes (family history).
  • Age greater than 45 years.
  • Certain ethnic groups (particularly African-Americans, Latinos, Native American, Asian American, Pacific Islander).
  • A history of gestational diabetes.
  • A history of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
  • A1C ≥5.7%, impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or impaired fasting glucose (IFG).
  • High blood pressure over 140/90 mm/Hg or taking blood pressure treatment.
  • A history of vascular disease.
  • High blood levels of triglycerides (a type of fat molecule) >250 mg/dL.
  • Low HDL cholesterol <35 mg/dL, the “good” cholesterol.
  • Conditions suggestive of insulin resistance i.e., (acanthosis nigricans, severe obesity).
  • A sedentary, inactive lifestyle.

Type 2 diabetes are preventable by managing the risk factors.

For gestational diabetes:

  • Age older than 25 years.
  • Personal history of gestational diabetes or prediabetes.
  • Close family member (such as a parent, brother, sister) with type 2 diabetes.
  • Currently overweight or obese.
  • Women who are African American, Latino, American Indian or Asian are more likely to develop gestational diabetes.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

What should be noted is that sugar itself won’t lead to diabetes, which simply means eating too much sugar won’t cause diabetes. However, eating too much sugar may lead to obesity, obesity is one of the risk factors of diabetes.

Symptoms

Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Weight loss in spite of increased appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Itchy skin
  • Slow-healing sores
  • Frequent skin, gum or vaginal infection

Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Increased appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-healing infections
  • Impotence in men
  • Itchy skin
  • Slow-healing sores
  • Frequent skin, gum or vaginal infection

Since Type 2 diabetes develops slowly, it is possible that some people with high blood sugar don’t experience any symptom at all.

Symptoms of gestational diabetes:

  • Usually no noticeable symptoms
  • Rarely may have increased thirst or urination
  • Typically, you will find out that you have gestational diabetes through a routine glucose challenge test given between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy.

Diagnosis

Diabetes is diagnosed with fasting blood sugar tests or with A1C blood tests, also known as glycated hemoglobin tests, which don’t require fasting. A fasting test means that it should be performed after you haven’t eaten or drank for at least eight hours. Diabetes is diagnosed according to the following standard:

  • Fasting Glucose Test

Normal: Less than 100 mg/dl

Pre-diabetes: 100-125 mg/dl

Diabetes: 126 mg/dl or higher

  • Random (anytime) Glucose Test

Normal: Less than 140 mg/dl

Pre-diabetes: 140-199 mg/dl

Diabetes: 200 mg/dl or higher

  • A1C Test

Normal: Less than 5.7%

Pre-diabetes: 5.7 – 6.4%

Diabetes: 6.5% or higher

A1C is reported in percentage, your health care provider may report your A1C test result as eAG, or “average glucose,” which directly correlates to your A1C.

Calculate eAG & A1C conversion

Treatment

Treatment option depends on what type of diabetes you have.

Treatment for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes:

  • Monitoring

If you have diabetes, you should check and record your blood sugar as many as four times a day or more often when you’re taking insulin. Careful monitoring is the only way to make sure that your blood sugar level remains within your target range.

Besides, regular A1C testing may be recommended to measure your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. This can indicate how well you have recovered after you carry out treatment plan. According to A1C level, you may need a change in your plan.

  • Insulin

People with Type 1 diabetes and some people with Type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes need insulin therapy. The available types of diabetes include rapid-acting insulin, long-acting insulin and intermediate options. And a mixture of these types may be prescribed based on your own conditions.

In addition, an insulin pump or a tubeless pump is also an available option now.

  • Oral or other medications

Other oral or injected medications may be prescribed as well. Some medications aim to stimulate your pancreas to produce and release more insulin, while others try to reduce production and release of glucose from your liver.

There are also medications that help block the action of stomach or intestinal enzymes that break down carbohydrates or make your tissues more sensitive to insulin. Metformin is usually the first choice for Type 2 diabetes.

  • Transplantation

A pancreas transplant may be an alternative for some people with Type 1 diabetes. After a successful transplant, there is no need for you to have insulin therapy. However, it may bring about serious risks, due to which, transplant is usually reserved for whose diabetes is out of control or those who also need a kidney transplant.

  • Bariatric surgery

This type of surgery may be beneficial to people with type 2 diabetes who are obese and have a body mass index higher than 35. But it’s not a common surgery because its long-term risks and benefits are still unknown.

Treatment for gestational diabetes

In order to guarantee your baby is healthy and complications during delivery can be avoided, controlling your blood sugar level is essential. Treatment for women with gestational diabetes involves maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, and monitoring blood sugar. Sometimes using insulin or oral medications may be necessary.

Treatment for prediabetes

For people with prediabetes, a basic and also key treatment is to have a healthy lifestyle which can help lower your blood sugar level and thus prevent or delay diabetes. A healthy lifestyle includes maintaining healthy weight, exercising regularly and having a healthy diet.

Sometimes medications such as metformin (Glucophage, Glumetza, others) may be needed if you have a high risk of developing diabetes.

Metformin: Use & Side Effects

What’s more, medications to control cholesterol, such as statins, and high blood pressure medications may also be considerable in some cases. If you’re at high risk of cardiovascular disease, low-dose aspirin therapy to help prevent it is likely to be prescribed by your doctor.

Statins: Uses & Side Effects

FDA Approved Drugs and User Comments: ASPIRIN

Complications

Diabetes is a chronic disease that you can live with, but the complications developed from diabetes could be fatal.

  • Cardiovascular disease. Diabetes dramatically increases the risk of various cardiovascular problems, including heart attack, atherosclerosis, and stroke.
  • Nerve damage (neuropathy). Excess sugar can injure the walls of the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) that nourish your nerves, including the nerves in your limbs, digestion system. Signs of nerve injury in limbs start from tingling, numbness, burning or pain that usually begins at the tips of the toes or fingers and gradually spreads upward. Signs of nerve injury in digestion system start from nausea, vomitting, diarrhea or constipation. For men, it may lead to erectile dysfunction.
  • Kidney damage (nephropathy). The kidneys contain millions of tiny blood vessel clusters (glomeruli) that filter waste from your blood. Diabetes can damage this delicate filtering system. Severe damage can lead to kidney failure or irreversible end-stage kidney disease, which may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.
  • Eye damage (retinopathy). Diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the retina (diabetic retinopathy), potentially leading to blindness. Diabetes also increases the risk of other serious vision conditions, such as cataracts and glaucoma.
  • Foot damage. Nerve damage in the feet or poor blood flow to the feet increases the risk of various foot complications. Left untreated, cuts and blisters can develop serious infections, which often heal poorly. These infections may ultimately require toe, foot or leg amputation.
  • Skin conditions. Diabetes may leave you more susceptible to skin problems, including bacterial and fungal infections.
  • Hearing impairment. Hearing problems are more common in people with diabetes.
  • Alzheimer’s disease. Type 2 diabetes may increase the risk of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease. The poorer your blood sugar control, the greater the risk appears to be. Although there are theories as to how these disorders might be connected, none has yet been proved.
  • Depression. Depression symptoms are common in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Depression can affect diabetes management.

Keyword: diabetes


Latest

Aug 5, 2019

Research has showed a natural superfood powerful in managing blood glucose, named Mankai.

Mankai is a high-protein aquatic plant strain of duckweed. Mankai grows in Israel and other countries in a closed environment and is highly environmentally sustainable. Duckweed has been consumed for hundreds of years in Southeast Asia as a vegetable.

The study made a comparison of a Mankai shake to a yogurt shake equivalent in carbohydrates, protein, lipids, and calories. Following two weeks of monitoring with glucose sensors, participants who drank the duckweed shake showed a much better response in morning fasting glucose levels, later peak time glucose levels, and faster glucose evacuation. The participants also felt more full.

The Mankai is rich in nutrition, with a nickname “vegetable meatball”, it’s rich in high-quality protein, polyphenols, mainly phenolic acids and flavonoids (including catechins), dietary fibers, minerals (including iron and zinc), vitamin A, vitamin B complex, and vitamin B12. The rich polyphenols makes it resistant to oxidation. It includes the complete protein profile of eggs.


Aug 5, 2019

Whole body vibration reduces inflammation in diabetes, said professors in Medical College of Georgia and Dental College of Georgia at Augusta University.

Whole body vibration means you stand, sit or lie on a machine with a vibrating platform. This is called a passive exercise. Is it as good as regular exercises? There has always been a dispute.

Today these professors show whole body vibration alters the microbiome, a collection of microorganisms in and on our body, which help protect us from invaders and, in the gut, help us digest food. After regular use of whole body vibration, they found increasing levels of a bacterium that makes short chain fatty acids, espeically they found 17-fold increase in this bacterium called Alistipes, known to be proficient at making short chain fatty acids which, in turn, are “very good” at decreasing inflammation in the gut. When Alistipes went up, glucose use and the macrophage mix also improved.

Although there’re more work to do, the investigators clearly say whole body vibration can turn down inflammation. It could be 10-15 minutes and five times a week.


Jul 31, 2019

Extracts of the herb Withania coagulans, or Paneer dodi, are used in traditional Indian medicine. Researchers now prove the herb’s effectiveness in reducing blood glucose levels in diabetic mice.

In the lab, diabetic mice fed for 5 days showed about 40% lower blood glucose levels compared to their starting amounts. Surprisingly, even 5 days after the treatment ended, the mice showed a 60% reduction in blood glucose compared to their starting levels.


Jul 20, 2019

University of California, Davis Health – A team of scientists and physicians have identified how diabetes lead to vascular disease.

Protein kinase A (PKA) is an enzyme which increases calcium channel activity and constricts blood vessels.

Cyclic AMP(cAMP) is a cellular messenger with a critical role in vascular cell function.

Adenylyl cyclase (AC) is an enzyme involved in cyclic AMP (cAMP) production.

The researchers found that AC5, a specific AC, mediated cAMP and PKA activation, triggering increased calcium channel activity and blood vessel narrowing.

The research team is planning further tests on AC5 chain reaction in high-glucose conditions in human cells. If this step confirms, AC5 will be a treatment target for reducing the vascular complications of diabetes. New drugs to surpress AC5 can be developed to interrupt the increase of calcium channel activity and blood vessel narrowing, and reduce the vascular complications, which can include eye, kidney, cerebral, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular disease.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.