Diabetes common to all people is known as Diabetes Mellitus to medical practitioners. It is a metabolic disorder characterized by high blood glucose levels either due to inadequate insulin production, or inability of the cells to respond to insulin or can be both. There are two types of Diabetes. Type 1 is insulin independent and type 2 being insulin dependent. Type 1 is common in only 10% of the population whereas worldwide spread of diabetes mellitus type 2 is amongst 90% of the population.
There is an increased risk of getting Diabetes tin pregnancy. If it occurs, it is called as Gestational Diabetes. It occurs when the placenta, known as the lifeline of the baby secretes hormones that help it develop but in return blocks the action of Insulin in the mother’s body. It is either this or the production is not sufficient enough for the growing body in the womb and the mother’s own body contributing to high blood glucose levels; causing Gestational diabetes.
Another class of Diabetes, Diabetes Ketoacidosis that occurs when level of ketone bodies elevates in blood. This condition can happen in both the types of diabetes but rarely occurs in diabetes type 2. Diabetes Mellitus is characterized by persistent elevated levels of Glucose, but can be diagnosed by the following criteria:
- Fasting Blood Glucose levels above 160 mg/dL.
- Plasma Blood Glucose levels after two hours of consuming glucose being above 200 mg/dL.
- Glycated Hemoglobin, Hb A1c levels of more than 6.5% is declared as diabetic.
Symptoms of Diabetes:
Following are the symptom that every diabetic faces when he/she develops it. The symptoms are progressive, taking over the body slowly till they become evident. These are:
- Blurry Vision
- Delayed Wound Healing
- Genital irritation
- Oral Infection
- Itchy skin
- Skin rashes
Polydypsia is a Greek word ‘poly’ meaning ‘many’ and ‘dypsia’ meaning ‘thirst’. This is the most common symptom faced by diabetics when they have uncontrolled diabetes. It is the initial symptom which is caused due to change in the osmolar balanceof the fluids of the body. It is the urge to drink water due to excessive thirst. Its primary symptom is dryness of mouth, a sense of dehydration that sends signals to the brain commanding the body to have water.
The question must be arising in your mind, why does polydypsia occur in Diabetics?
Due to increased concentration of glucose in blood, approximately 200 mg/dL or more, the kidney fails to suck up the glucose from blood that comes to it for filtration. In normal circumstances, glucose is taken up from the blood by excreting Sodium in place of it whereas in hyperglycemic conditions the body is unable to take glucose from the blood, building the pressure up. Due to this, excessive water is lost from the body leaving the sensation of intense thirst, dryness of mouth circling back to Polydypsia.
Drinking water is not harmful but having polydypsia leads to the following side effects:
- Dehyderation as excessive water is lost from the body.
- Development of another serious condition termed as Diabetes Ketoacidosis. This leads to accumulation of Ketone bodies that are acidic in nature taking the path to organ failure, coma and death.
- Elevating blood glucose further than they already are. In Dehyderated state the kidney produces concentrated, less or even scanty urine so less glucose is excreted out of your body.
- Polydypsia is followed by dehydration that causes release of Adrenalinine and other stress hormones that block Insulin action in the body.
- Can be followed by shock, unconsciousness, coma and if remains untreated, leading to death.
Polydypsia is followed by a condition known as Polyuria. This is also a Greek word made up of two components, ‘Poly’ referring to ‘many’ and ‘Uria’ meaning ‘Urine’. This means repeated trips to the restrooms for urination. It is one of the most important sign of diabetes.
Polyuria is declared when approximately 2.5 Liters of Urine is excreted daily. This condition is also because of elevated blood glucose levels. It occurs when disturbance of osmotic pressure takes place due to raised glucose concentration in blood. Because of disrupted osmotic pressure, the kidney is unable to strain glucose, drawing excessive water out with itself to lower its levels in blood.
Polyuria occurs mostly at night when patients are asleep and repeated trips to the restroom are usually troublesome.
Side effects faced by this condition are:
- Impaired renal functions after a while of excreting excessive urine.
- Weight loss may occur if polyuria is accompanied by Diabetes Mellitus type 1.
- Weight loss can also occur due to excessive urination and excretion of body’s water content.
- Dehydration may occur if water intake is inadequate.
Polyphagia is the last of the chief signs of Diabetes Mellitus. ‘Poly’ means ‘many’ and ‘Phagia’ means ‘eating’. This term refers to excessive hunger or increased appetite. In hyperglycemic state, the body remains hungry as glucose uptake by cells of the body is diminished as the cells are covered by fat or by another mechanism in which there is inadequate release or production on Insulin.
Insulin directs the glucose towards the cell, helping it attach on the cell surface so that it can be taken by the cells for energy. The lack of Insulin makes the body stay in a constant starved state as it gets deprived of glucose to produce energy. In return the brain commands the body to have more food to feed the hungry cells adding up more glucose in blood stream contributing to further elevated glucose levels in blood.
Polyphagia can also be due to low blood glucose levels i.e. the state of hypoglycemia. If blood glucose levels fall below 60 mg/dL it is known as the state of hypoglycemia. In such a state, liver releases stored glucose to bring back the normal levels of glucose in blood. In such circumstances a person having hypoglycemia tries to take as much food as possible to reach normal glucose levels in blood. Being confused, dizzy and having cold sweats in such a condition, a person is unaware of the excessive food he/she takes that later adds up to the levels already present in blood to cause hyperglycemia.
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Do you sneak up at night to munch on a few more goodies in the fridge because you are hungry for no reason at all? It is better to get it checked if you have other complains like excessive thirst and having the urge to urinate excessively. The main thing that comes to the mind as one hears all the three symptoms together is Diabetes.
My mom has diabetes and I’ve heard her say “It’s weird to think a juice box has saved my life on more than one occasion” and I imagine almost every other diabetic nodding to this.
2. Genital Irritation
The issue of genital itching is faced by half of the female population while they complain of smelly vaginas and discharge from their vaginas. People usually address this issue by telling each other to maintain a clean environment down there. Well that is not the only reason of such a complaint you know. There can be other issues like diabetes, consuming a lot of sugars, drinking excessively, various infections, sexually transmitted diseases etc. The issue of our concern is Diabetes.
Diabetic patients are considered as immunocompromised as they are prone to develop various infections. Most common issue faced by diabetic females is the issue of genital irritation. Uncontrolled diabetes causes altered vaginal pH making the vagina less acidic allowing the colonies of various bacteria and yeast to colonize. This condition is called Vaginal Thrush.
Thrush in women is caused by yeast called Candida Albicans and the infection is referred as Candidiasis. It occurs in the mucosal surface of vagina, vulva and the area near the labia majora and minora. The symptoms of this condition are:
- Soreness and irritation
- White curd like patches on the skin.
- Painful sexual intercourse
- White, thick vaginal discharge
- Reddening of Vulva occurs
- Vaginal itch develops leading to inflamed vagina, commonly known as Vaginitis.
Thrush also develops in men and the culprit behind this is another specie of yeast known as Candida Balantis. This condition is also caused as Candidiasis. It is more common in uncircumcised men as yeast develops in the loose skin above the glans penis (head of the penis). Not only uncontrolled diabetes is the cause of Candidiasis in men, it is also caused by excessive smoking, unhealthy genital hygiene and excessive alcohol intake. The symptoms include:
- Redding, soreness and inflammation of glans penis
- Itching at the head of the penis
- Discharge from the penis
- Smelly penis
- Pain during micturation (urination)
- White curd like patches on the skin around the penis
- Painful sexual intercourse
The key to solving this issue is to control blood glucose levels, manage them, have fewer sweets, and cut down the amount of cigarettes you smoke and gradually letting go of excessive alcohol consumption. A trip to the doctor will be the best option as soon as you notice this as yeast infections are hard to treat once acquired. People opt for over the counter medications themselves to get rid of the itch, remember it can worsen your condition as there might be an underlying infection causing this.
Do you feel as if you are always tired, unable to work after a certain time period, can’t seem to concentrate anymore because you have lost all that it takes to stay up and work or are tired for no reason at all? Fatigue is the state of extreme tiredness occurring due to mental exhaustion, physical strenuous exercise and illness. It can be due to psychogenic causes like after mental strains occurring in divorce, breakups or after having a really bad day.
In diabetes high and low blood glucose levels both cause fatigue. High blood glucose levels make the blood thick and viscous so it circulates the blood vessels slowly. The cells of the body get deprived of glucose, oxygen and various nutrients and send a signal of being fatigued and lazy. The person often describes this as being groggy or being drugged.
Another theory that has been proposed lately is that high blood glucose levels cause inflammation of the blood vessels. Because of this, immune system sends monocytes in the brain that cause fatigue.
In low blood glucose levels, the body gets deprived of the basic need of glucose which slows down the cellular metabolism as there is no fuel for the body to start working.
Not only have these, people who have diabetes commonly had Urinary Tract Infections and Bladder Infections because of readily invading organisms in the body because of immunocompromised condition. Such cases have no other symptoms other than fatigue. Asymptomatic dental infections are also known to cause fatigue and it remains unnoticed for years.
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Some medications prescribed for diabetes also have a side effect that they require oral intake of Vitamin B12 for hematopoiesis (procedure that forms blood). Using such medications for a long period of time to manage diabetes may make a person anemic. Anemic patients complain majorly of fatigue and breathlessness.
Depression is more common in people having diabetes. Antidepressants used in such patients also cause drowsiness and fatigue.
Circling our cycle back to polyuria and polydypsia, these conditions cause the body to be dehydrated resulting in fatigue.
The list of the things causing fatigue in Diabetes keeps on increasing. It is best to evaluate ourselves and then treat the causes to stay fresh and active throughout the day.
Diabetes is an epidemic and the spread is throughout the world has effected around 80% of the population. The remaining are either pre diabetic or have chances of getting diabetes in later stages of life. Diabetes is often associated with being overweight, having obesity, having a sedentary lifestyle. Type 1 diabetes was often known to affect children or kids in their teens whereas type 2 diabetes mellitus is known to affect people of middle ages and later stages of life. But due to our lifestyle and dietary habits, the spread of type 2 diabetes has inflicted our children and adolescents as well. Taking care of ourselves in diabetes and constant evaluation of our diabetic status should be practiced as it is better to save and prevent ourselves from its severe repercussions. Prediabetics should also get evaluated every 6 months to know where they stand and should maintain healthy habits for prolonging its occurrence.
The consequences faced by diabetics are cataracts, forgetfulness, cardiovascular diseases, renal impairment, nephropathy, commonly addressed as lack of sensations in peripheries of the body like feet and hands, thus these people are likely to suffer from injuries that remain unnoticed till gangrene appears and the conditions worsen till amputation is the only cure left for providing a better quality life to the patient. I have lost 3 distant uncles and an aunt because of the spread of gangrene in their limbs so I would like to request my readers to take care of themselves if they have diabetes.
Some things that prediabetics as well as diabetics should be doing for better lifestyle are:
- A mild to moderate intensity workout for an hour or half an hour daily maintains a healthy status.
- Changing dietary habits is going to ease your journey as sugar rich, carb rich and highly fattening diets are really harmful for health and may cause cardiovascular diseases, oral thrush, renal diseases and other deadly symptoms.
- Talking to the doctor about the symptoms, complications and getting knowledge for prevention and taking better care of ourselves.
- Going for early evaluations of systems of the body. It is better to prevent the complications of such a disease then to be sorry.
- Control your weight. People being overweight are prone to diabetes by 20 to 40%.
- Try quit smoking as it also increases your chance of getting diabetes and worsens the conditions of diabetics.
It is better to make wise choices in lifestyle, diet and habits that we develop. The results will be evident gradually but it will be worthwhile.
- Diabetes mostly occurs in low to middle income countries.
- 80% of the children have at least one close relative being affected with diabetes.
- About 80 people daily get diagnosed of diabetes type 1.
- The cause of death reported in diabetics is cardiac failure, renal failure or diabetic foot.
- Men with diabetes are reported to have lower levels of testosterone. This may be another reason of lethargy in men.
- Diabetes not only occurs in humans but cats and dogs also have diabetes.