Diabetes 101

Diabetes is a medical illness where the body is not able to use or produce insulin effectively, hence not being able to digest the sugar. This increases blood sugar levels in the body which can lead to heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, vision problems, and nerve problems.

As of now, there is no treatment that can cure this disease completely, however certain medication and treatment can reduce blood sugar level, bringing it down to a safe level, allowing you to continue living your life normally and healthy. There are two types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2.

Symptoms of diabetes may include:

· Increased thirst

· Frequent urination

· Frequent bed-wetting in children

· Extreme hunger

· Unintended weight loss

· Irritability and other mood changes

· Fatigue and weakness

· Blurred vision

How is diagnosis done?

Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test:  This is a blood test that measures the percentage of blood sugar in the blood and the higher your blood sugar levels, the more haemoglobin will be attached with the blood sugar. If the test states an A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher, you have diabetes, if it is between 5.7 and 6.4 that is considered to be prediabetes, and below 5.7 is considered normal

These other tests could also be recommended if the A1C is not available or cannot be taken:

· Random blood sugar test. A blood sample will be taken at a random time. Regardless of when you last ate, a random blood sugar level of 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) — 11.1 millimoles per liter (mmol/L) — or higher suggests diabetes.

· Fasting blood sugar test. A blood sample will be taken after an overnight fast. A fasting blood sugar level less than 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L) is normal. A fasting blood sugar level from 100 to 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L) is considered prediabetes. If it's 126 mg/dL (7 mmol/L) or higher on two separate tests, you have diabetes.

· Oral glucose tolerance test. For this test, you need to fast overnight, and the fasting blood sugar level is measured. Then you drink a sugary liquid, and blood sugar levels are tested periodically for the next two hours.

A blood sugar level less than 140 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L) is normal. A reading of more than 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L) after two hours indicates diabetes. A reading between 140 and 199 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L and 11.0 mmol/L) indicates prediabetes

Type 1 diabetes and treatment

Type 1 diabetes is usually genetic, where the pancreas is not able to secrete insulin. It is unknown how this is exactly caused, usually the body’s immune system mistakenly destroys the insulin producing bacteria. There is no way to cure this, the person affected just has to keep sugar levels under control in order to reduce problems. The treatment is mainly taking injections of insulin, keeping track of your sugar intake and food intake, and exercising regularly to burn calories.

Type 2 diabetes and treatment

Type 2 diabetes usually is caused by a high sugar intake, an insulin resistance in the body, or the lack of insulin. It is also often known as ‘adult - onset diabetes’. The body is not able to use insulin correctly, which results in the high sugar level. Normally, things like heredity, extra weight, high consumption of sugar, and internal problems within cells could be the cause. There is no permanent cure, but it can definitely be controlled to a healthy level where it doesn’t create complications. Medications are generally used, such as Metformin (Glucophage, Glumetza, others) or Sulfonylureas, however, in rare cases insulin shots may have to be taken as well. Apart from that, you also need to monitor your sugar and calorie intake, and exercise regularly as that helps reduce blood sugar level. In future, you may not need to take any medication as well, a healthy diet and regular exercise could be enough.

It is also important to go to your doctor for regular checkups and blood tests, it is recommended that you get a blood sugar test every three years, especially if you are overweight or multiple family members already have diabetes. Diabetes is common in Thailand, but one-half of all cases are undiagnosed. If left untreated, it could lead to serious problems in the body.


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