We've all heard many people who are above the age of 40 talk about having a condition called Diabetes that limits their freedom to have different kinds of food.
What exactly is this condition?
Well, Diabetes is a disorder that arises when your blood glucose levels are way higher than normal. Glucose is a form of sugar, so blood glucose is commonly known as 'Blood Sugar'. Glucose is the main source of energy that fuels your day-to-day activities and this comes from the food that we eat.
Around 422 million people living in low and middle-income countries have fallen prey to this dangerous condition and 1.6 million deaths are attributed each year, a report by WHO.
How Does Glucose Enter Our Body?
Our body has an organ present in the Abdomen behind the Stomach called Pancreas. It is the organ responsible for converting food that we eat, into a source of energy for carrying out daily body activities. Pancreas has 2 functions-Exocrine functions and Endocrine functions.
The exocrine Pancreas serves the function by secreting Digestive Enzymes to break down complex food particles into simpler ones. For example, Carbohydrates that we eat are complex forms of nutrition that are converted into simpler forms called Monosaccharides or SUGARS!
Endocrine Pancreas secretes hormones that regulate blood sugar levels. We see terms such as 'enzymes' and 'hormones' daily, hence it's important to know the basic difference between these two as we are going to go into detail about different enzymes and hormones in the latter part of this article.
These are basically ‘Chemical Messengers’ that are secreted (released) by certain glands in our body to regulate body functions in the form of messages.
An Enzyme is a catalyst that accelerates metabolic reactions in our body. They are also called ‘Biological catalysts’:
- [A catalyst in general terms is a substance that accelerates any chemical reaction]
- [Metabolic Reaction: All the chemical reactions going on inside our body to maintain proper functioning]
Endocrine Pancreas secretes a hormone called Insulin that helps abstract the glucose from the food that we take in into the cells and the cells use the energy derived from glucose by breaking it down to fuel body requirements of energy content. A Diabetic person does not produce adequate Insulin which causes errors in Glucose Metabolism in our cells which leads to various medical conditions.
Insulin and Glucagon are hormones that regulate sugar metabolism in the pancreas. Superficially, Glucagon is responsible for 'increasing' absorption rate of glucose while Insulin is responsible for 'decreasing' absorption of glucose. So if Insulin is produced less, it will fail to compensate for the increase in body glucose levels brought about by Glucagon. Therefore, the levels of sugar in the blood will increase, causing Diabetes.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF DIABETES?
2 types of Diabetes are commonly seen. They are Type-1 and Type-2, Pre-Diabetes, Gestational Diabetes, and Others.
SYMPTOMS OF TYPE-1:
It arises when due to Autoimmunity where the body attacks its own cells, well, in this case, the body's immune system attacks Insulin Secreting Cells due to which Insulin production is hindered.
CAUSES OF TYPE-1:
- Sudden Weight loss
- Extreme Thirst (Polydipsia) and hunger
- Weakness or a feeling of Tiredness
- Frequent Urination(Polyurea)
- Blurred Vision
- Heavy Breathing(Kussmaul Respiration)
SYMPTOMS OF TYPE-2:
The body attacks its Insulin Secreting cells in the pancreas and the reason for this is currently unknown.
This is caused when your body fails to use Insulin effectively or Insulin is deficient in the body. This type of diabetes is mostly found in people of the Middle Ages.
CAUSES OF TYPE-2:
Symptoms of this type of Diabetes are similar to that of Type-1 still by the time the symptoms have become noticeable, the complications have already arisen and the risk of being Diabetic is already high, so it's recommended to test your Blood Sugar Levels to monitor any such activity beforehand.
Due to genetic and lifestyle factors, Obesity (Read about Obesity in another article) is known to have increased the chances of getting type-2. A person is more likely to have Type-2 Diabetes if they suffer from Pre- or Gestational Diabetes(During Pregnancy).
It arises due to hormonal imbalances or changes during Pregnancy in Women. In most cases, Gestational Diabetes is found to be cured after the delivery of the baby. The chances of getting diagnosed with Type-2 are higher if the person is diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes.
SYMPTOMS OF GESTATIONAL DIABETES:
Chances of being diagnosed with this type of diabetes increases if:
- Have a Family History of Type-2(genetic factors greatly influence Type-2)
- Have had Gestational Diabetes in Previous Pregnancies.
- Are Overweight
- Above the age of 25
COMPLICATIONS OF GESTATIONAL DIABETES:
- Still Birth(Loss or Death of Baby during delivery)
- Increased risk for Type-2 for the Baby and Mother
- Jaundice for the Baby and Mother
- Low BP for the baby
Mothers sometimes may require Cesarean delivery (C-section) in such cases.
It occurs when your blood sugar is higher than the normal values but not as high as to cause Type-2.
Normal blood Sugar: 70-99 mg/DL, Fasting:126 mg/DL
Such people are at a higher risk to develop Type-2. Risk for Type-2 can be brought down if lifestyle changes are made once the patient is found to have Pre-Diabetes.
Symptoms and Complications for Pre-Diabetes are similar to that of Type-2.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TYPE-1 AND TYPE 2:
Occurs when the body fails to produce Insulin
Occurs when the body produces less insulin or does not utilize insulin effectively.
Caused due to Autoimmunity
Caused due to Genetic and Lifestyle reasons.
Diagnosed during childhood
Diagnosed during adulthood
Not associated with Body weight
Related to Obesity
Has high levels of Ketone
High BP and Cholesterol
Treated with Insulin supplementary injections
In the initial stages, no medicines or injections are required to treat
Symptoms develop suddenly
Symptoms take time to develop
If the person is found to be Pre-Diabetic, then immediate changes in diet and other lifestyle changes can help reduce the risk for Type-2.
After all, just like how we funnily say: A Spoon Full of Insulin, Helps the Sugar go Down, we don't mean quite literally.