Starting one’s life anew next Monday – it is one of those dreams that everyone seemed to have at least once. It is just fine if you can make a fresh start of your own free will. However, it is a different story if you are forced to adjust yourself to a new life because of a new set of circumstances, which are totally beyond your control. Diabetes is one of those unfortunate circumstances which brought about drastic changes for 150 million people around the world. Even worse, the number of sufferers is expected to grow year in and year out.
There are several signs and symptoms associated with diabetes. Are you visiting the bathroom much more lately? Does it feel like you cannot get enough water and you are drinking much more than usual? Have you been losing weight without trying? Are you feeling tired and run down on a regular basis? In addition, you seem to be feeling numbness or tingling in your extremities, and your skin is dry and itchy far too often. Any of the above signs could indicate diabetes.
“The engine of a car runs on gasoline, and therefore gasoline is a must. Likewise, the human body must get glucose for energy. Normally, the sugar we receive from the food we eat is digested and broken down to a simple sugar, otherwise known as glucose. The glucose then circulates in our blood where it waits to enter cells to be used as fuel. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps move the glucose into cells. A healthy pancreas adjusts the amount of insulin based on the level of glucose. This process breaks down and blood sugar levels become far too high in case of diabetes,” said Tatyana Nikonova, a senior researcher at the Moscow-based Center of Endocrinology Studies.
Type 1 diabetes is popularly referred to as a disease of the “young and lean.” Type 1 often occurs before age 30, but may strike a person of any age. It occurs when the pancreas starts producing very little or no insulin any more. Therefore, frequent insulin injections are required for Type 1 diabetes.
As a rule, Type 2 diabetes is often referred to as a disease of those who are “old and overweight.” Yet again, Type 2 may affect anyone, including children. People with Type 2 can produce insulin, but their cells don’t respond to it. Type 2 occurs gradually with increasing insulin resistance so the glucose cannot move into the cells and blood glucose levels become as high as in case of Type 1 diabetes. Patents may require treatment with hypoglycemic drugs.
There appears to be an inherited tendency to diabetes, though a patient may never have a full-blown disease. Basically, diabetes is an autoimmune disease. In other words, it is a disorder of the body’s defense mechanisms in which the antibodies start attacking certain components or products of its own tissues. Diabetes may be triggered by various factors which cause the disruption of carbohydrate metabolism e.g. physical or psychological stress, an infectious disease or surgery.
Obesity and hypertension can often trigger Type 2 diabetes. That is probably why 90 percent of all diabetes cases are Type 2. It would be preposterous to claim that you will never develop diabetes if you go on a certain diet. However, a link between obesity and Type 2 diabetes seems quite obvious.
These days you can take a DNA test to find out whether you have a genetically inherited predisposition for diabetes. Immunological tests are designed to determine the response of antibodies to insulin, thus indicating the development of diabetes at a very early stage, some 5-6 years before the first symptoms of the disease are due to appear.
Normal blood glucose levels (based on a blood test taken on an empty stomach) range from 3.3 to 5.5 millimol per liter. Blood glucose levels up to 6.1 millimol per liter are considered as normal in case of a biochemical blood test.
Blood glucose levels can increase to 7.8 millimol per liter if a blood test is taken after meal. The levels then go back to the norm. Sugar deposits in the liver may at times make blood glucose levels increase in the morning even if a patient has not eaten anything last night.
Blood glucose levels may grow high if a patient consumed alcoholic beverages or ate food rich in carbohydrates or spicy food one day earlier. The presence of sugar in the urine can be determined only in cases when blood sugar levels are in the excess of 9-10 millimol per liter. Therefore, taking a urine test to determine urine sugar levels is an auxiliary diagnostic method for diabetes.
You should not panic even if you have tested positive for the disorder. You will be able to lead a normal life if you receive proper treatment and stay on a diet.
As regards Type 2 diabetes, you should make an effort to choose the right diet and stick to it at all times. Your doctor can help you make necessary changes in your diet. Diabetes is one of the few diseases where food monitoring becomes the order of the day. Self-discipline and self-control could help you do without injections and oral medications because blood glucose levels go back to normal.
There are no restrictions whatsoever when it comes to the diet in case of Type 1 diabetes. The carbohydrate, fat and protein content of daily meals determine blood glucose levels. It is extremely important to keep them in balance. In other words, you had better get an idea of how much and what exactly you are about to eat so that you can give yourself a shot of insulin in advance. On the other hand, you should not indulge in eating too much of the so-called readily available carbohydrates e.g. sugar, chocolate, pastry, grapes, pears, bananas. On the whole, alcoholic beverages cannot do harm to a diabetic provided that booze is taken in moderation. If you are diagnosed with diabetes of either type, your daily dosage of alcohol must not exceed 75 grams of vodka or 250 grams of dry wine or 600 grams of beer.
Translated by Guerman Grachev