Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas is no longer able to make insulin, or when the body cannot make good use of the insulin it produces.
Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that acts like a key to let glucose from the food we eat pass from the bloodstream into the cells in the body to produce energy. All carbohydrate foods are broken down into glucose in the blood. Insulin helps glucose get into the cells.
Not being able to produce insulin or use it effectively leads to raised glucose levels in the blood (known as hyperglycemia). Over the long term high glucose levels are associated with damage to the body and failure of various organs and tissues.
There are three types of diabetes
Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age but occurs most frequently in children and adolescents.
Type 2 diabetes is more common in adults and accounts for around 90% of all diabetes cases.
Gestational diabetes (GDM) is a type of diabetes that consists of high blood glucose during pregnancy
Prediabetes means that your blood sugars are higher than usual, but not high enough for you to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. It also means that you are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
You may not be experiencing any symptoms of prediabetes.
Prediabetes is also called:
They all mean the same thing. So if you’ve been told you have any of these, knowing this is the first step to being able to do something about it. And there are lots of things you can do to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.
People with diabetes have an increased risk of developing a number of serious health problems. Consistently high blood glucose levels can lead to serious diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, nerves, and teeth. In addition, people with diabetes also have a higher risk of developing infections. In almost all high-income countries, diabetes is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower limb amputation.
Maintaining blood glucose levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol at or close to normal can help delay or prevent diabetes complications. Therefore people with diabetes need regular monitoring.
At present, type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented. The environmental triggers that are thought to generate the process that results in the destruction of the body’s insulin-producing cells are still under investigation.
While there are a number of factors that influence the development of type 2 diabetes, it is evident that the most influential are lifestyle behavior commonly associated with urbanization. These include consumption of unhealthy foods and inactive lifestyles with sedentary behavior. Studies from different parts of the world have established that lifestyle modification with physical activity and/or a healthy diet can delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Modern lifestyles are characterized by physical inactivity and long sedentary periods. Community-based interventions can reach individuals and families through campaigns, education, social marketing and encourage physical activity both inside and outside school and the workplace. IDF recommends physical activity at least three to five days a week, for a minimum of 30-45 minutes.
Taking a life-course perspective is essential for preventing type 2 diabetes and its complications. Early in life, when eating and physical activity habits are established and when the long-term regulation of energy balance may be programmed, there is an especially critical window to prevent the development of overweight and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Healthy lifestyles can improve health outcomes at later stages of life as well.
Population-based interventions and policies allow healthy choices through policies in trade, agriculture, transport and urban planning to become more accessible and easy. Healthy choices can be promoted in specific settings (school, workplace and home) and contribute to better health for everyone. They include exercising regularly and eating wisely which will help to maintain normal levels of blood glucose, blood pressure and lipids.
Latest figures show over 19 million people now living with diabetes in Pakistan as the numbers continue to rise