Diabetes mellitus is a chronic metabolic condition that arises when the pancreas produces insufficient insulin or when the body’s insulin is ineffectively used. This is characterized by high blood glucose (or blood sugar) levels, which can cause catastrophic damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves over time. The aetiology and pathogenesis of diabetes can be summarized as difficulties with insulin sensitivity and secretion, but the specific faults that cause these problems are complex and poorly understood.
With an estimated 1 in every 17 persons in Nigeria living with diabetes, many people lack basic knowledge and information about the condition and how to manage it; many people are even living with diabetes without realizing it. Bold measures such as adequate sensitization and promoting participation in early diagnostic testing; on the other hand, are critical in putting an end to a disease that is on the verge of becoming a neighbour.
Diabetes manifests itself in a variety of ways that can be divided into categories. An autoimmune reaction that inhibits your body from generating insulin is thought to be the cause of Type 1 (insulin deficiency) diabetes. Type 1 diabetes affects approximately 5 per cent to 10 per cent of diabetic patients. Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes can appear quickly. Children, teens, and young adults are the most common victims.
Your body does not use insulin well and can’t keep blood sugar levels at normal ranges if you have type 2 diabetes (ineffective utilization of insulin). Type 2 diabetes affects roughly 90 per cent to 95 per cent of diabetics. It is commonly identified in adults after a long period of development. If you’re at risk, it is important to get your blood sugar checked because you may not notice any signs. Type 2 diabetes can be avoided or delayed by making healthy lifestyle changes like decreasing weight, eating healthy foods, and exercising. There is also gestational diabetes which develops in pregnant women, but however, goes away after parturition.
The signs and symptoms of diabetes differ depending on how high your blood sugar is. Increased thirst, frequent urination, extreme hunger, unexplained weight loss, ketones in the urine (ketones are a by-product of the breakdown of muscle and fat that occurs when there is insufficient insulin), fatigue, irritability, blurred vision, slow-healing sores, and frequent infections are common symptoms.
A blood test can be used to diagnose and control diabetes. There are three types of tests that can be used to detect your blood glucose level.
- Fasting plasma glucose test, also known as Fasting Blood Sugar (FBS): This test is best done after an eight-hour fast in the morning (nothing to eat or drink except sips of water).
- Random plasma glucose test: This test can be performed at any time and requires no fasting.
- A1C test: This test, also known as HbA1C or glycated haemoglobin, gives you your average blood glucose level over the previous two to three months. This test determines how much glucose is bound to haemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in your red blood cells. There’s no need to fast beforehand.
- Oral glucose tolerance test: After an overnight fast, the blood glucose level is tested. Then you consume a sugary beverage. After that, your blood glucose level is measured at one, two, and three hours.
However, untreated diabetes can potentially cause severe complications that involve almost all parts of the body, including the heart, kidneys, blood vessels, eyes, nerves, gastrointestinal tract, gums, and teeth. Type 1 diabetes can result into stroke, heart disease and eye and kidney diseases. Type 2 diabetes is also linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and vision loss. In severe cases, untreated diabetes can lead to death.
Finally, it’s crucial to remember that diabetes may be managed and its repercussions avoided or delayed by following a well-planned diet, getting enough of exercise, taking medications, and getting regular medical screenings and treatment for problems. More importantly, appropriate diabetes education and timely recognition of one’s status are helpful in putting an end to this underlying epidemic.
Oluwaseyi Muyiwa Egbewande is an undergraduate Doctor of Pharmacy student at the University of Ilorin, a student researcher and an online content writer. He is an astute writer who enjoys writing on health related articles and sharing them with everyone