What is diabetes?

Diabetes is disorder of metabolism in which glucose (sugar) levels in blood are higher than normal range. Diabetes is of various types like type 1, type 2, gestational diabetes and other types. Diabetes can affect any person at any age. Insulin is a hormone secreted by pancreas. In healthy state, insulin keeps blood sugar levels under control. Diabetes occurs when either insulin levels are low in our body or insulin becomes less effective.

What are symptoms of diabetes? Who should be tested for diabetes?

Not all people with diabetes have symptoms. Increased thirst, increased urination, weight loss and feeling weak are symptoms of high blood sugar. Anyone who has symptoms of high blood sugar, all adults over age of 40 and those who are overweight/obese should be investigated for diabetes periodically.

Why to treat diabetes?

Uncontrolled diabetes can cause serious problems like blindness, Kidney failure, heart attack, paralysis, neuropathy, foot ulcer and amputations. When diabetes is not treated properly, sometimes blood sugars can go very high and patient may go into coma and loose his life. Treatment of diabetes reduces risk of these serious complications.

What are treatment options for diabetes?

Diabetes can be treated successfully with lifestyle modification and medicines (tablets and injections). People with diabetes can have long healthy life if their diabetes is well controlled. Tablets either stimulate pancreas to make more insulin or they make our insulin more effective to control blood sugar levels.

In healthy people without diabetes, fasting blood glucose less than 100 and Postprandial (2 hour after meal) blood glucose less than 140 is considered normal. We should try to keep blood glucose in people with diabetes as close to normal range as possible.

Healthy lifestyle habits for diabetes

There is no special food for diabetes. People with diabetes should follow healthy eating habits as people without diabetes. They should stay away from so called sugar free products in market. They should eat smaller portion at frequent intervals rather than large portion with prolonged fasting. They should avoid meals of high glycemic index and high glycemic load.

People with diabetesshould do physical exercise regularly, unless it is medically contraindicated. Regular exercise is beneficial for cardiovascular health, controlling diabetes and also loosing weight for overweight and obese people.

People with diabetes should take extra care of their feet. You should never walk barefoot. Examine your feet daily and report to doctor immediately if there is any wound,blue or black discoloration of toes/other part of feet. You should keep your feet clean and nails trimmed.

Follow your doctors’ advise to manage your diabetes. Take your medicines on time. Follow healthy eating habits and exercise regularly. Discuss your problems with your doctor. Stay healthy.