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Disease at a Glance: Diabetes

Diabetes is a medical condition where our body has either stopped producing insulin or cannot use it effectively. Insulin is a hormone produced by the Beta cells of Langerhans of the pancreas that regulates the glucose levels in our blood stream. It’s like a key that lets glucose from the food we eat pass from the blood stream into the cells in the body to produce energy. Not being able to produce insulin or inability to use it effectively leads to raised glucose levels in the blood. High glucose levels can lead to the failure of various organs and tissues in the body.

 

Excessive thirst and increased urination are classic symptoms of diabetes - other symptoms include unexplained weight loss, blurred vision, fatigue and delayed healing. Bear in mind, however, that early symptoms are easy to miss – you may have diabetes for months or even years and not know. If you have a family history of diabetes or are overweight, you may be at an increased risk of developing diabetes. 

 

Common Symptoms

Frequent  urination
Excessive thirst
Feeling very hungry
Unexplained weight loss
Slow healing of wounds

 

There are three types of diabetes:

 

Type-1 Diabetes (also called Juvenile Diabetes because it usually develops at an early age), is a condition where the body produces very little or no insulin. Hence, insulin injections are required daily.

 

Type-2 Diabetes (also called Maturity-onset Diabetes) is a condition where the body either produces less insulin than is required or has become resistant to the insulin that is produced. Type-2 Diabetes is managed through diet, exercise, oral medication and insulin administration, if necessary.

 

Gestational Diabetes is a condition that develops during pregnancy and can lead to complications for the expecting mother and her baby. Gestational diabetes disappears after pregnancy but many doctors believe both the mother and her baby are at an increased risk of developing diabetes at a later stage.

 

In terms of diabetes treatment, the disease can be classified into two types - NIDDM (Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus) and IDDM (Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus). In NIDDM, patients do not require parenteral insulin therapy, while IDDM patients require isulin administration.

 


Key Diagnostic Tests: Fasting Blood Sugar, Post-Prandial Blood Sugar, HbA1c (Glycated Haemoglobin), Random Blood Sugar

 

Additional Tests: Cholesterol, Serum Creatinine and Urine Albumin 

 

Recommended Check-up: Eye Examination, Foot Examination, Height, Weight, Body Mass Index (BMI)

 

Doctor Specialty: Endocrinologist / Diabetologist

 

Common Products: Blood Glucose Meter (or Glucometer), Test Strips, Lancets & Lancing Device, Artificial Sweetener, Diabetic Footwear, etc.


 

References

1) International Diabetes Foundation (www.idf.org)
2) American Diabetes Association (www.diabetes.org)
3) Diabetes India Association (www.diabetesindia.com)

 

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