What is diabetes?

What is Diabetes

What is Diabetes

What is diabetes? 

A basic understanding of what IS diabetes is needed, so that you can effectively ensure reduced complications and effects of this disease.

This post will be a bit longer than is normal for most articles, and can and should be referred to from time to time when a simple laypersons definition of diabetes is needed.

Diabetes is a grouping of metabolic diseases in which a person has high or elevated blood sugar or blood glucose levels. Blood sugar and blood glucose are used interchangeably and refer to the same meaning.

Diabetes is a disease that is NOT communicable, meaning you cannot “catch it” from anyone. Effective management of diabetes requires a partnership between you, the person with diabetes and medical or health care providers and educators.

Providing the education portion of this partnership is one of the goals here at “Diabetes in the Philippines”.

There are four main categories and/or types of diabetes:

  • Prediabetes or IGT (Impaired Glucose Tolerance)
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Gestational diabetes

Prediabetes

People with high blood glucose levels, but not as high as those in people with diabetes, are said to have impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or impaired fasting glucose (IFG).

Both conditions are more commonly known as Prediabetes.

  • IGT is defined as higher than normal blood glucose after eating.
  • IFG is defined as higher than normal blood glucose after fasting

IGT and IFG are intermediate conditions between what is considered normal blood glucose and diagnosed diabetes.

  • Prediabetes is increasing in the Philippines and likewise elsewhere throughout the world.
  • Those with prediabetes are at an elevated risk for Type 2 diabetes. 40-50% of people with prediabetes are at increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes within 10 years.

People with prediabetes can remain undiagnosed for many years without proper preventative care and screening.

Development of Type 2 is NOT inevitable for those with prediabetes. 30% of people with prediabetes can return to normal blood Glucose levels and reduce their chances of type 2 by:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight and losing excess weight.
  • Maintaining a healthy diet and watching what they eat.
  • Becoming more physically active and exercising on a regular basis.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is normally first diagnosed in children, teens and young adults under the age of 20. In the Philippines it is estimated that more than 8 thousand children have Type 1 Diabetes. This statistic, being the second highest type 1 diabetes rate in the western pacific region.

Someone with Type 1 diabetes has a pancreas that cannot make insulin at all, thus they will be insulin dependent the rest of their life..

Researchers suspect that the body’s immune system has attacked and destroyed specialized cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Why this happens is not fully understood at the present time.

  • People with Type 1 diabetes WILL die if they do not receive insulin from outside the body.
  • Type 1 cannot be prevented or cured at the present time, however it can be treated and managed with a healthy diet, exercise and regular injections of insulin.

Poorly treated and managed type 1 diabetes leads to serious complications and early death.

However, following proper medical advice and treatment plans many people can and do lead happy, healthy and long productive lives with type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes in the Philippines and also throughout the world. 90% of all people with diabetes have type 2. While it usually only occurs in adults, it is increasingly being diagnosed in children and teens.

Type 2 usually begins with increased insulin resistance. Meaning the muscles, liver and the body’s fat cells stop using insulin properly. Insulin resistance causes cells to ignore insulin signals to absorb sugars (glucose). When this happens blood glucose levels rise.

People with type 2 diabetes can remain undiagnosed for many years without proper preventative care and screening.

Type 2 diabetes is not curable, however it can  be well controlled and managed with:

  • Proper Diet/healthy eating habits
  • Exercise
  • Medication (can also include insulin injections)
  • Proper tracking of blood glucose levels

In some cases it is entirely possible to control and manage Type 2 diabetes with diet/healthy eating habits, exercise and tracking only.

Poorly managed type 2 diabetes leads to serious complications and early death.

However, following proper medical advice and treatment plans, people can and do lead happy, healthy and long productive lives. As an example, my grandfather lived to be over 85 years old and had type 2 diabetes for more than 50 years.

Gestational Diabetes

This  type of diabetes can develop during later stages of pregnancy. With symptoms similar to type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes is normally diagnosed during prenatal screenings. Gestational diabetes normally does NOT affect the baby if blood glucose levels are controlled during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes normally disappears after birth of the baby, however women that have gestational diabetes are at increased risk of Type 2 later in life.

Normally controlled with:

  • Proper Diet/healthy eating habits
  • Sometimes Medication (can also include insulin injections) is required.

In summary:

  • Diabetes is a grouping of metabolic diseases in which a person has high or elevated blood sugar or blood glucose levels.
  • Diabetes is a disease that is NOT communicable, meaning you cannot “catch it” from anyone.
  • Poorly treated and managed, diabetes leads to serious complications and early death.
  • People with diabetes can remain undiagnosed for many years without proper preventative care and screening.
  • Effective management of diabetes requires a partnership between the person with diabetes and medical or health care providers and educators.
  • Following proper medical advice and treatment plans people with diabetes in the Philippines, can and do lead happy, healthy and long productive lives.

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