Diabetes: Types, Symptoms, Treatment & medicines

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic medical condition characterized by high blood sugar (glucose) levels resulting from a lack of insulin production or the body’s inability to use insulin effectively. Glucose is a vital source of energy for your body, but when you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t produce enough insulin (type 1 diabetes) or doesn’t use insulin effectively (type 2 diabetes)

Type 1 diabetes, which is usually diagnosed in childhood or adolescence, is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. People with type 1 diabetes are needed to take insulin injections or use an insulin pump to manage their blood sugar levels.

Type 2 diabetes, which is more common and typically develops in adulthood, is caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors, such as being overweight or obese. In type 2 diabetes, the body becomes resistant to insulin, and the pancreas may not produce enough insulin to keep up with the body’s demands. Treatment for type 2 diabetes typically includes lifestyle changes, such as adopting a healthy diet and exercise regimen, and medication if needed.

Types of Diabetes

  • Prediabetes
  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Gestational Diabetes

Prediabetes

It is a warning sign that a person is at risk of developing diabetes in the future and can be diagnosed through blood tests. Prediabetes can often be prevented or reversed through lifestyle changes such as healthy eating, exercise, and weight loss. Prediabetes is a warning sign that indicates an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

The American Diabetes Association defines prediabetes as having a fasting blood glucose level between 100 and 125 mg/dL, or an A1C level (a measure of average blood glucose over the past 2-3 months) between 5.7% and 6.4%.

Prediabetes often has no symptoms, so it’s important to get regular blood sugar checks if you have risk factors such as being overweight or obese, having a family history of diabetes, being physically inactive, or having high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

The good news about prediabetes can be reversed through lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet, losing weight,  and increasing physical activity. In some cases, medication may also be necessary to lower blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes

This type of diabetes occurs during pregnancy and affects about 2-10% of pregnant women. Gestational diabetes usually develops in the second or third trimester and often goes away after the baby is born. Gestational diabetes usually goes away after the baby is born, but it increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life for both the mother and the child. Treatment for gestational diabetes may include a healthy diet, exercise, and sometimes medication.

Type 2 diabetes

This type of diabetes occurs during pregnancy and affects about 2-10% of pregnant women. Gestational diabetes usually develops in the second or third trimester and often goes away after the baby is born. Gestational diabetes usually goes away after the baby is born, but it increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life for both the mother and the child. Treatment for gestational diabetes may include a healthy diet, exercise, and sometimes medication.

Gestational Diabetes:

This type of diabetes occurs during pregnancy and affects about 2-10% of pregnant women. Gestational diabetes usually develops in the second or third trimester and often goes away after the baby is born. Gestational diabetes usually goes away after the baby is born, but it increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life for both the mother and the child. Treatment for gestational diabetes may include a healthy diet, exercise, and sometimes medication.

Causes of Diabetes:

Diabetes mellitus, also known as type 1 or type 2 diabetes, is caused by a combination of genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors.

The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is not fully understood, but it is believed to be related to genetic and environmental factors, such as exposure to viruses or other environmental triggers.

Type 2 diabetes is caused by a combination of insulin resistance and impaired insulin secretion. Insulin resistance is when the body’s cells become less responsive to insulin, leading to high blood sugar levels. Impaired insulin secretion is when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to control blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes is strongly linked to lifestyle factors such as obesity, physical inactivity, and a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates. There is also a genetic component to type 2 diabetes, but lifestyle factors play a larger role.

Other less common types of diabetes include gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy, and other types of diabetes that can be caused by genetic mutations, diseases of the pancreas, or the use of certain medications.

how to diagnose Diabetes?

It’s important to note that a diagnosis of diabetes should be made by a healthcare professional, and that additional tests may be needed to confirm the diagnosis. To diagnose diabetes, there are following tests which may include:

  • Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test
  • Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT)
  • Random blood sugar test
  • A1C test
  • Fructosamine test
  • Glycated albumin test
  • Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM)
  • Point-of-care testing (POCT)
  • Urine test for ketones

Treatment for Diabetes

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for diabetes, as the approach depends on the type of diabetes and the individual’s specific needs. Generally, treatment for diabetes aims to keep blood sugar levels within a healthy range to prevent complications.

  • For type 1 diabetes, insulin injections or an insulin pump are typically necessary to regulate blood sugar levels. People with type 1 diabetes also need to carefully monitor their blood sugar levels and adjust their insulin dose accordingly. It’s also important for individuals with type 1 diabetes to eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly.
  • For type 2 diabetes, lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise may be enough to manage blood sugar levels. If lifestyle changes aren’t enough, oral medications or insulin injections may be necessary. In some cases, weight loss surgery may be recommended for individuals who are obese and have difficulty controlling their blood sugar levels.
  • Gestational diabetes is typically managed with a combination of lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, and sometimes medication. Women with gestational diabetes also need to carefully monitor their blood sugar levels during pregnancy.

In addition to medical treatment, it’s important for individuals with diabetes to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, managing stress, getting enough sleep, and not smoking. Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider are also important to monitor blood sugar levels and prevent complications

Prevention of Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, as it is caused by an autoimmune response that destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. However, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes can often be prevented or delayed through lifestyle changes. These include:

  • Healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet that is low in processed and sugary foods, and high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats can help prevent diabetes.
  • Regular exercise: Regular physical activity helps to maintain lowers blood sugar levels, and improves insulin sensitivity and a healthy weight.
  • Weight management: Being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise is important for diabetes prevention.
  • Avoiding tobacco: Smoking and using other tobacco products increase the risk of diabetes and its complications. Quitting smoking and avoiding tobacco use is an important step in preventing diabetes.
  • Managing stress: Chronic stress can increase blood sugar levels and contribute to the development of diabetes. Yoga, Meditation, and deep breathing can help in reducing stress levels.
  • Regular health check-ups: Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider can help identify risk factors for diabetes and manage them before they become a problem.
  • Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep can disrupt hormone levels and increase the risk of diabetes.
  • Limiting alcohol intake: Excessive alcohol consumption can increase the risk of developing diabetes. Limiting alcohol intake can help prevent diabetes and its complications.

Medicines For Type 1 diabetes

The main treatment for type 1 diabetes is insulin therapy, which is usually given via injections or an insulin pump. There are several types of insulin that are available to treat type 1 diabetes, including:

  • Rapid-acting insulin: This type of insulin starts working within 15 minutes of injection and lasts for 2-4 hours.
  • Short-acting insulin: This type of insulin starts working within 30 minutes of injection and lasts for 3-6 hours.
  • Intermediate-acting insulin: This type of insulin starts working within 2-4 hours of injection and lasts for 12-18 hours.
  • Long-acting insulin: This type of insulin starts working within 1-2 hours of injection and lasts for 24 hours or more.

There are also combination insulins available that contain both short-acting and intermediate-acting insulin.

In addition to insulin therapy, some people with type 1 diabetes may also need other medications to help manage their blood sugar levels, such as:

  • Pramlintide: This medication is a synthetic version of a hormone called amylin, which is normally produced along with insulin in the pancreas. Pramlintide can help slow the digestion of food and reduce the amount of glucose that enters the bloodstream after meals.
  • Metformin: This medication is commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes, but it can also be used in combination with insulin therapy to help improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels.
 

Medicines For Type 2 diabetes

The treatment for type 2 diabetes typically begins with lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise. However, if lifestyle changes alone aren’t enough to manage blood sugar levels, medications may be prescribed. There are several classes of medications that are commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes, including:

  • Metformin: This medication is usually the first-line treatment for type 2 diabetes. It reduces the amount of blood sugar produced by the liver and improves insulin sensitivity.
  • Sulfonylureas: This class of medications stimulates the pancreas to release more insulin, which can help lower blood sugar levels. Examples include glimepiride, glipizide, and glyburide.
  • DPP-4 inhibitors: These medications help lower blood sugar levels by preventing the breakdown of incretin hormones, which stimulate insulin production. Examples include sitagliptin, saxagliptin, and linagliptin.
  • GLP-1 receptor agonists: These medications work by mimicking the effects of incretin hormones, which stimulate insulin production and reduce appetite. Examples include exenatide, liraglutide, and dulaglutide.
  • SGLT2 inhibitors: These medications work by preventing the kidneys from reabsorbing glucose, which can help lower blood sugar levels. Examples include canagliflozin, dapagliflozin, and empagliflozin.
  • Insulin: In some cases, insulin therapy may be necessary to manage blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

It’s important to work with a healthcare provider to develop an individualized treatment plan for type 2 diabetes that meets your specific needs.