Managing Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus is an ongoing medical condition that manifests as high levels of sugar in the blood. Diabetes is linked to several other conditions or complications, which makes it very important to keep blood sugar levels under control. It can be managed with lifestyle changes and medications, and this helps in preventing the complications associated with it.

In order to effectively manage diabetes, it is important to understand the type of diabetes someone has or may be at risk of having, and their blood glucose patterns. Here are some details that may help you understand diabetes better if you are looking for some information.

1. Glucose regulation in the body

In normal circumstances, our pancreas and liver regulate sugar levels in the body by producing certain hormones. Two hormones that play an integral role in glucose regulation are insulin and glucagon. Insulin is produced by the pancreas and it helps to clear up sugar from the blood through multiple mechanisms including an increase in the uptake of glucose by the cells. Glucagon is a counter-regulatory hormone, also produced by the pancreas, and works to increase sugar levels in the blood. As a result of the interplay of these and some other hormones, the sugar level is maintained between 4 and 6 mmol/L in the fasting state and less than 7.8 mmol/L after meals.

2. Type 2 diabetes

With age and due to the presence of certain risk factors, insulin secretion from the pancreas may decrease over time. Additionally, our cells also may develop increased resistance to insulin, and our liver may start producing more glucose. As a result, the blood sugar level increases, and often sugar spikes are observed after meals. Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed when the fasting sugar levels are 7 mmol/L or more and/or after-meal sugar levels are above 11 mmol/L.

  1. Prediabetes

Prediabetes is a condition, whereby blood sugar levels are not as high as type 2 diabetes but higher than the normal range. In some people, this is due to impaired insulin secretion after meals, while in some the dysregulation is due to impaired insulin secretion in the fasting state. Prediabetes is diagnosed when the fasting sugar levels are between 6.1 and 6.9 mmol/L and/or after-meal sugar levels are between 7.8 and 11 mmol/L.

3. Type 1 diabetes

The diagnostic criteria for type 1 diabetes are the same as type 2 diabetes (fasting levels: 7mmol/L or more; after-meal levels: above 11 mmol/L), however, the mechanism is slightly different. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas completely loses the ability to produce insulin. As a result, glucose can rise to dangerously high levels in the blood, which may eventually lead to a condition called ketoacidosis (build-up of certain acidic compounds in the body). Type 1 diabetes is more commonly diagnosed in childhood and teenage but can also be diagnosed as late as 30 years of age.

Treatment depends on the type of diabetes someone has. Medicinal therapy is gradually adjusted until the target sugar levels are achieved and is maintained thereafter. Adequate control of diabetes reduces the risk of complications, such as stroke, and enables one to have a good quality of life.

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