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Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas to control blood sugar. Diabetes can be caused by too little insulin, resistance to insulin, or both. To understand diabetes, it is important to first understand the normal process by which food is broken down and used by the body for energy. Several things happen when food is digested.
A sugar called glucose enters the blood stream. Glucose is a source of fuel for the body. An organ called pancreas makes insulin. The role of insulin is to move glucose from the bloodstream into muscle, fat, and liver cells where it can be used as fuel.
There are three major types of diabetes: Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in childhood. In this disease, the body makes little or no insulin. Daily injections of insulin are needed. The exact cause is unknown. Genetics, viruses, and autoimmune problems may play a role.
Type 2 is far more common than type 1. It makes up most of diabetes cases. It usually occurs in adult hood, but young people are increasingly being diagnosed with this disease. The pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin to keep blood glucose levels normal, often because the body does not respond well to insulin. Many people with type 2 diabetes do not know they have it, although it is a serious condition.
Gestational diabetes is high blood glucose that develops at any time during pregnancy in a woman who does not have diabetes. Woman who have gestational diabetes are at high risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease later in life.
High blood levels of glucose can cause several problems including blurry vision, excessive thirst, fatigue, frequent urination, hunger and weight loss.
However, because Type 2 diabetes develops slowly, some people with high blood sugar experience no symptoms at all.
If you have diabetes, your doctor may tell you to regularly check your blood sugar levels at home. There are number of devices available and they use only a drop of blood. Self monitoring tells you how well diet, medication and exercise are working together to control your diabetes.
The American diabetes association recommends keeping blood sugar levels in a range of 80 -120 mg/dl before meals, 140 -180mg/dl two hours after meals.
You should work closely with your health care provider to learn how much fat, protein and carbohydrates you need in your diet. A registered dietitian can help you plan your dietary needs.
Regular exercise is especially important for people with diabetes. It helps with blood sugar control, weight loss, and high blood pressure. People with diabetes who exercise are less likely to experience a heart attack or stroke than those who do not exercise regularly.
People with diabetes are more likely to have foot problems. Diabetes can damage blood vessels and nerves and decrease the body’s ability to fight infection.
(Zulekha hospital Sharjah is running Diabetes Clinic on every Tuesday 9am to 1pm which aims to provide comprehensive care for all with diabetes.)
Dr Mohamed Sohil Alhossni
Endocrinologist and Diabetologist
Zulekha Hospital, Sharjah)
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