Diabetes is a feared and dangerous disease. It can put the brakes on your life. More than 30 million people in India are currently living with this disorder. But, if you keep your guard up, then you can actually live a perfectly normal life even with diabetes and it will not interfere with your everyday activities. Being cautious means keeping an eye on your body and being mindful of your diet and treatment.
But before we get to that, let’s first understand what diabetes is all about
What is Diabetes?
When your blood glucose or sugar level rises beyond the acceptable range (72-99 mg/dL when fasting or 90-130 mg/dL postprandial), you get diabetes.
There are several types of diabetes. But the commonest among them are Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes, which differ from one another based on what triggers them.
What is Type 1 diabetes?
This type of diabetes takes root when your immune system accidentally starts attacking and destroying the cells of your pancreas because it mistakes them for harmful pathological substances that could harm the body. Your pancreas is responsible for producing insulin. Insulin senses the rise of blood sugar after a meal and sends signals to your cells to absorb the sugar and utilize it for performing their functions. But if the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin because its cells are damaged, then naturally, the sugar level in your blood also increases. This gives you diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes can happen at any age, but usually, it’s the children who are more vulnerable to it. That is why Type 1 diabetes also goes by the name Juvenile diabetes.
When should you worry about type 1 diabetes?
If your child has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, then you should look out for the following signs and if you spot any one of them, you should take immediate action-
- Your child might be eating healthily but you still notice a sudden and rapid reduction in weight
- Your child has suddenly started to wet the bed even though he/she has no history of bedwetting
- Your daughter has developed a yeast infection
- Your child feels dizzy or disoriented
- She/he feels lethargic and exhausted
- Has suddenly contracted the flu or come down with fever with headache and body ache.
If you do not notice these warning signs of escalating type 1 diabetes and take action, it could have life-changing repercussions on your child or you (if you have contracted it). Ketones could start accumulating in your blood and this could lead to diabetic ketoacidosis, which is lethal. Moreover, ignoring the signs could also cause
- retinopathy (reduced eyesight can progress to blindness)
- kidney damage
- damage to the nerves
- poor blood circulation all over the body
What is type 2 diabetes?
When the cells of your body become resistant to insulin, you get type 2 diabetes. It is a chronic condition and it disrupts your body’s ability to metabolize sugar. If your cells do not respond to insulin, they will not pick up the sugar from your blood, which means glucose will start accumulating and this will lead to elevated levels of glucose in your blood.
Type 2 diabetes usually affects adults. But these days, even young children are testing positive for type 2 diabetes because of unhealthy lifestyle habits and obesity.
When should you be worried?
- When you are always thirsty and feel like you have to urinate
This is a sign of advanced diabetes. When there is just too much sugar in your blood, your kidneys can’t absorb all the glucose and is forced to flush out large quantities of it through urine. That means you will feel a frequent urge to urinate and a lot of fluids will be drained throughout the day. Because you will be on the verge of dehydration, your body will crave more water and you will feel thirsty.
- You are constantly fatigued
This is a sign that is especially dangerous and means that your blood sugar level is alarmingly high. Sugar actually fuels your cells to do their work. But when blood sugar level has soared because you are not responding to insulin, it means that your cells aren’t getting the glucose they need and that is why you feel so exhausted.
- Rapid Weight Loss
A sudden drop in weight is one of the surest indications that your diabetes level has shot up.
- Your vision feels blurry
Excess sugar in your blood saps your body of fluids and it does not spare the lenses of your eyes either. Blurry vision is the outcome of new and unnecessary blood vessels forming in your eyes due to diabetes that interrupt the functions of those vessels that were already there and supplying your eye with blood and oxygen.
- Slow healing
Suppose you have cut your foot and you notice that even after a few days, the wound is showing no signs of healing. This is a dangerous sign. A high amount of blood sugar slows down your body’s natural ability to heal itself. And if you are a woman with diabetes, watch out for signs of bladder or vaginal infection.
- Swollen and painful gums
If your diabetes has accelerated, it will inhibit your body’s capacity to fight off germs and bacteria. And this will manifest in infections of the gums. You might notice that your gums are swollen or feel tender and painful and this should ring the warning bells.
- Your hands and feet might tingle
This happens when there is a lot of sugar in your blood. Sugar messes up your nerve activity and that is why you get those tingling sensations in your arms and feet. You may also feel a sudden numbness in your hands and feet.
If you do not pay heed to these danger signs, type 2 diabetes could trigger severe kidney damage, blindness, or heart diseases.
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can easily be controlled if you are ever alert. You will require insulin shots on a regular basis. Moreover, you have to ultra-careful about your diet and strictly stick to the chart prepared for you or your child (if he/she has contracted diabetes). To make the medicines and diet more effective, pack in half an hour of exercise every day.
You can also turn to home remedies like consuming basil leaves or bitter gourd to keep your blood sugar level in check.
Diabetes can be lethal if you are not careful. There are a few signs that indicate that your diabetes level is spiraling out of hand. If you notice them then seek medical help immediately.