“The term “”diabetes”” actually applies to several conditions. Type 1 diabetes usually starts in kids or young adults and happens when the pancreas stops making insulin. Type 1 can’t be cured, but it can be managed. Type 2 can begin at any age, but it’s more common in people who are overweight or have a family history. There’s also a kind of diabetes called gestational diabetes that can only happen to pregnant women. It usually goes away after the baby is born. And prediabetes. Most cases of prediabetes are called “pre-diabetes”, but it’s also called “impaired glucose tolerance”.
What causes diabetes?
The exact cause of diabetes is not known, but doctors think that your blood sugar levels become messed up for a few reasons. Doctors think that genetics and certain lifestyle choices can make you more likely to get diabetes. But even if your family members have diabetes, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get it too.
Diabetes can be caused by problems with your pancreas, where it makes and releases insulin. Or it can be caused by problems with your fat cells, like too much fat clogging up the blood vessels in your legs. Adipose tissue (fat) has cells that make things called “”adipokines””. Some of these things may play a role in diabetes.
What causes prediabetes?
Doctors used to think that prediabetes was caused by fat clogging up the blood vessels. But they now think that prediabetes is more complicated than this. They think that it’s caused by genetic factors, too. But it can probably be triggered by eating a lot of sugary foods.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
- Type 1 diabetes: The symptoms and signs of type 1 diabetes usually start slowly and then get worse fast.
- Type 2 diabetes: The symptoms and signs of type 2 diabetes usually start slowly and then get worse fast if you don’t take care of yourself.
- Gestational diabetes: This kind of diabetes happens only to pregnant women. Its symptoms are a little harder to recognize than the ones for type 1 or type 2. But if you get it, you’ll likely have high blood sugar levels during your pregnancy. Some of these problems may lead to the birth defect called “”neural tube defect””.
- Prediabetes: This is when your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but they’re not high enough yet to be called diabetes. If you get prediabetes, you’ll likely have high blood sugar levels over time. Some people with pre-diabetes have no symptoms, or only mild symptoms. Others have symptoms like thirst, appetite changes, fatigue (tiredness), and frequent urination.
If you have diabetes, or if you have prediabetes, your body may release higher amounts of certain kinds of hormones. These hormones make you feel hungry. So you may gain weight more easily than people who don’t have this problem. You can also develop water retention (your feet and ankles might be swollen). This is because your kidneys are working harder to filter out the extra sugar from your blood. So you may look bloated, even if you’ve lost a lot of weight.
What is the best way to control diabetes?
You have many things you can do to help control the diabetes. You should start as soon as possible. But if you wait too long, it may be harder to control your blood sugar levels.
Follow these steps:
- Follow a healthy diet.
Read the nutrition facts panel on food packages and follow the tips that are there (for instance, don’t buy sugary drinks and don’t eat too much sugar). Limit the amount of food and sugary drinks that you eat every day. Exercise at least a few times a week (get your health check first to make sure that you’re healthy enough to exercise).
- Stop smoking.
This is the single biggest factor in keeping your blood sugar levels under control. You should stop smoking and if you smoke, you should quit it as soon as possible (see more about stopping smoking in this booklet).
- Change your lifestyle.
Learn how to manage stress so that it doesn’t affect your blood sugar levels.
- If you have a physical job, you should incorporate more frequent exercise — such as by doing your own gardening or household chores. Go for a walk instead of watching TV. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- A healthy diet can work wonders in keeping your blood sugar levels stable and good control that will help to prevent complications from diabetes. In particular:
- Make sure you eat a proper breakfast whether you are diabetic or not.
- Have lunch and dinner later on in the day so that you are not eating too much in one meal.
- Snack on small meals throughout the day.
- Eat fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole-grain products (breads, cereals, rice and pasta). Eat them instead of sugar-sweetened snacks such as candy or sweetened fruit juices.
- Eat large portions of lean meat instead of fatty meat.
- Don’t skip breakfast. Eat a small (but well-balanced) breakfast.
- Have smaller meals and snacks to keep blood sugar levels under control without the risk of an emergency. And if you have diabetes, you shouldn’t eat too much before bedtime because this can lead to high blood sugar later on in the night. Or if you have prediabetes, don’t eat too many sugary snacks or drinks, such as soda.”
Learn here in our diabetes condition center how to manage other health problems related to diabetes. You will find helpful tips on how to take care of your feet.