Diabetes mellitus (DM), or simply referred to as diabetes, is a condition that impairs the body's ability to use blood glucose, known as blood sugar, and other nutrients including fats and proteins. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps glucose from the food get into the cells to be used for the production of energy. A person with diabetes becomes deficient in insulin production or resistant to its action that causes the buildup of glucose in the blood. Over time, having too much glucose in the blood can cause several health problems.
Diabetes has emerged as one of the fastest growing health challenges, and the number of adults living with diabetes has tripled in the world over the past two decades. China has the highest number of diabetes cases worldwide, with around 116 million people being affected, followed by India and the United States with around 77 million and 31 million people with diabetes, respectively.
What are the risk factors for diabetes?
Doctors use the term “prediabetes or borderline diabetes” when a person’s blood sugar level is usually in the range of 100-125 mg/dL. The prediabetes level means that the blood glucose level is higher than usual but not high enough to be called diabetes. People with prediabetes are, however, at risk of type 2 diabetes, although they do not usually experience the symptoms of full-blown diabetes.
The risk factors for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes are similar. They include:
What are the signs and symptoms of diabetes?
The classical symptoms of untreated diabetes include:
- Unintended weight loss
- Polyuria (increased urination)
- Polydipsia (increased thirst)
- Polyphagia (increased hunger)
Symptoms develop rapidly in type 1 diabetes, whereas they usually develop much more slowly, are subtle, or absent in type 2 diabetes. Several signs and symptoms can mark the onset of diabetes. They include:
How is diabetes diagnosed?
Prevention of diabetes
There is no established measure to prevent type 1 diabetes mellitus (DM). However, one can lower the risk of type 2 DM by following the below measures:
- Eating a diet high in fresh, nutritious foods including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, low-fat dairy, and healthy fat sources such as nuts
- Avoiding high-sugar foods that provide empty calories or calories that do not have other nutritional benefits such as sweetened sodas, fried foods, and high-sugar desserts
- Refraining from drinking excessive amounts of alcohol or keeping intake to less than one drink a day
- Engaging in at least 30 minutes of exercise a day for at least 5 days a week, such as walking, aerobics, riding a bike, or swimming
- Recognizing signs of low blood sugar levels such as dizziness, confusion, weakness, and profuse sweating when exercising
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors