Contributed by: Priyaish Srivastava
Did you know?
- Diabetes is one of the most prevalent diseases in India.
- Around 77 million Indians are diabetic.
- One in every sixth person with diabetes in the world is of Indian origin.
- Indians aged between 18 and 35 years are most vulnerable to diabetes.
- Diabetic patients in India increased by 73% increase between the years 2016 and 2018.
- The risk of long-term diabetes can be reduced by taking preventive measures.
- Smoking is one of the most dangerous risk factors for diabetes.
What is diabetes?
Do you often feel thirsty and urinate a lot, especially at night? If yes, you should immediately get diagnosed as these are the early symptoms of diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the functioning of insulin (a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels) is obstructed thus increasing blood sugar levels (hyperglycaemia). This condition usually strikes when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body is unable to utilize the already produced insulin. Diabetes can severely affect many of the body’s systems, but its impact is more serious on the nervous system and blood vessels.
There are four different types of diabetes:
- Prediabetes: In this case, the sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to give rise to Type 2 diabetes
- Type 1 diabetes: It is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks the pancreas and disrupts insulin production.
- Type 2 diabetes: This condition occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin, leading to increased blood sugar levels
- Gestational diabetes: This condition usually occurs during pregnancy due to insulin-blocking hormones produced by the placenta – a temporary organ that connects a growing foetus to the uterus.
A diabetic patient can manifest symptoms which include:
Diabetes can severely affect your overall well-being. However, there’s light at the end of this tunnel. Even with diabetes, you can manage the condition to lead a normal life. But to do that, you should first know about the other illnesses that diabetes can potentially trigger, who is at an increased risk of diabetes, foods that can help control diabetes, and what should be avoided to manage diabetes effectively.
How diabetes increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases?
Diabetes enhances the risk of increased cholesterol and blood sugar levels which can give rise to cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and stroke. The risk is greater in those who remain physically inactive (leading a sedentary lifestyle), smoke or with a family history of cardiovascular complications.
Getting regularly diagnosed is one of the most important steps to reduce the risk. Some of the preventive diagnostic tests you should go for include:
- Blood pressure check – every six months or as recommended by the doctor
- HbA1c check – once a year or as recommended by the doctor
- Cholesterol checks – once a year or as recommended by the doctor
How diabetes increases the risk of eye complications?
Diabetic patients are more prone to eye complications such as:
- Cataracts: This condition leads to distorted or cloudy vision and sensitivity to glare or bright lights. Cataracts may develop in people aged between 40 and 50 years, but diabetes can give rise to the condition at an early age.
- Retinopathy: In retinopathy, the blood vessels of the retina become damaged, giving rise to vision complications. It is essential to get an early diabetes eye check-up to detect the condition in its early stage. This enables you to take preventive measures or early treatment to avoid the aggravation of the condition.
Other eye complications like macular oedema or glaucoma can also arise due to diabetes. Thus, preemptive diagnosis and treatment of these eye conditions are essential to avoid eye problems.
How diabetes increases the risk of kidney complications?
Diabetes may bring changes in the small blood vessels of the kidneys which increases the risk of kidney ailments. To prevent this, a diabetic person should undergo regular screening to check the presence of microalbumin (small amounts of protein) in the urine. The presence of microalbumin in urine denotes that the person is developing kidney disease. The screening should be done at least once a year or as prescribed by the doctor, as it helps in taking preventive measures to manage the condition.
How diabetes affects mental health?
Diabetes is a serious ailment and managing and living with it can trigger stress, anxiety, and depression, which can affect the blood glucose levels and the way you manage the condition. If you feel stressed or anxious, you must seek therapy or consult a psychiatrist and speak about what you feel. The guidance of the doctor provides confidence, so you can deal with the condition efficiently.
How diabetes increases the risk of thyroid disease?
Diabetes increases the risk of both hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) and hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). The high blood glucose levels of a diabetic person can potentially affect the functioning of the thyroid gland and give rise to thyroid disease.
Getting regular diagnoses and supervision from your healthcare provider can reduce the risk of developing thyroid disease and helps in managing diabetes.
Who is at risk of developing diabetes?
The risk of getting affected by diabetes increases when a person is:
- Aged 45 or older
- Directly related to a diabetic person (parent or sibling)
- Physically inactive
- Suffering from high cholesterol levels or high blood pressure
Recommended foods to better manage diabetes
The diet plays a crucial role in the overall well-being of a person, especially for people suffering from diabetes. A well-balanced diet can make a huge impact in your fight against diabetes and help you better manage the condition. A few foods ideal for diabetes management include:
- Green leafy vegetable
- Chia seeds
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Vinegar and apple cider vinegar
Foods and lifestyle choices to avoid for diabetics
To avoid getting affected by diabetes or preventing the worsening of the condition, a person should:
- Stop smoking
- Decrease alcohol intake
- Stop consuming refined grains
- Avoid aerated beverages
- Avoid fried foods and candy
- Avoid processed meat
- Eat fewer breakfast cereals with added preservatives, especially sugar
Diabetes is a serious condition that can give rise to other illnesses and may become life-threatening if left untreated. Getting diagnosed and seeking expert supervision is recommended upon experiencing the symptoms to avoid chronic health complications. Implementing a healthy lifestyle and dietary changes such as staying physically active and eating a nutritious and balanced diet can help in effectively managing the condition.
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