14 Nov World Diabetes Day
Diabetes is a chronic disease that is characterized by high blood glucose level. It affects more than 420 million people in the world. There are several types of diabetes that are treated differently.
Types of diabetes
- Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease characterized by an absolute insulin deficiency and, therefore, by the need for indefinite insulin treatment. Type 1 diabetes represents 5-10% of all cases of diabetes.
- Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is considered one of the epidemics of the 21st century. It is the most common type of diabetes representing 80-90% of all cases. It is caused by the inability of the body to produce or adequately utilize its own insulin (insulin resistance). Type 2 diabetes is associated with obesity and sedentary lifestyle, and has a marked socioeconomic gradient, affecting the population with lower resources and educational level.
- Monogenic diabetes is due to alterations in different genes involved in insulin synthesis, in its secretion or in its function. It is also called MODY (Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young) because it usually affects people under 25 years old.
- Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that appears during pregnancy in a woman without previous diabetes. It is one of the main risk factors for the development of type 2 diabetes and complications during pregnancy.
The treatment depends on the type of diabetes.
As we’ve seen above, type 1 diabetes is insulin-dependent. Thus, the main treatment is insulin therapy and glucose monitoring. Those who have type 1 diabetes should have knowledge about carbohydrates in food.
The treatment of type 2 diabetes depends on the stage. It can involve oral medication and insulin therapy. In type 2 diabetes, lifestyle habits such as healthy eating and physical exercise are crucial.
Diabetic nephropathy is characterized by decreased kidney function and kidney failure.
Diabetic retinopathy is a microvascular complication of diabetes that affects eyes. It is one of the leading causes of adult-acquired blindness.
Diabetic neuropathy includes a group of degenerative alterations of the peripheral nerves in relation to pre-existing diabetes. It most often damages nerves in the legs and feet.
Cardiovascular or heart disease. Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels and nerves that control the heart. In addition, people with diabetes are more likely to have other conditions that increase their risk of heart disease (high blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides).
Those complications can be prevented by keeping a consistent blood sugar control and a healthy lifestyle. Also, it is important to control cholesterol levels, avoid high blood pressure, overweight and obesity.
Living with diabetes
In patients with insulin therapy or gestational diabetes, monitoring of capillary glycemia is useful for optimizing metabolic control and to identify hypoglycemia. It is a technique that allows us to know blood sugar levels.
Food monitoring is also important to take that into account when eating carbs. That way, it is easier to control the type and amount of carbohydrates present in each intake. Besides, it will help to be more aware of its effect on blood glucose levels.
To sum up, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is not only important for the management of diabetes but also to avoid complications in the future. Some recommended habits are doing regular exercise, avoiding alcohol and tobacco consumption, assisting with regular appointments for diabetes management, controlling other medical conditions and following a healthy, varied and balanced eating plan.