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Causes of diabetes

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that develops when your blood glucose level is too high and interferes with how well your body breaks down food. The process of obtaining energy from the food you eat depends on your blood glucose.
In reaction to the rise in blood sugar levels following a meal, the pancreas releases insulin, a hormone that regulates the quantity of glucose that enters your bloodstream. Your liver, adipose tissue, muscles, and fat all can store glucose with the aid of insulin. Allowing the production of proteins, carbs, and lipids as well as supporting enzymatic activity are two other roles of insulin.
Your bodily functions may experience out of balance if you have diabetes because your pancreas is not making enough insulin. Your blood sugar level could rise (hyperglycaemia) or drop (hypoglycaemia) to a potentially dangerous level.
If diabetes is left undetected and untreated, it can potentially affect your entire body, including your internal organs. Though it cannot be cured, it is manageable, and it is still possible to live a healthy life with diabetes.

 

There are different types of diabetes that can afflict people.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder, which is usually diagnosed in childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood. Because this is an autoimmune disorder, it requires life-long insulin therapy.

Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common forms of diabetes that is diagnosed in people.
Gestational diabetes happens in pregnant women but tends to go away after delivery. This type of diabetes can increase the chances of congenital abnormalities in the child and can pose some dangers to the woman. However, having gestational diabetes can increase the chances of women developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.
Another term you should know is pre-diabetes, which means that you may be on the brink of developing diabetes. This usually happens when your blood sugar level is above the normal range, but not high enough for you to have Type 2 diabetes. You also stand at a higher risk of getting heart disease and stroke if you have prediabetes.

 

What are the causes of diabetes?

There are different causes of diabetes, but the most common ones are having a family history, certain lifestyle choices, age, and the environment you live and grow in. Knowing the possible causes of diabetes in advance can help you in avoiding this disease altogether. If you have been diagnosed with this condition, then knowledge and awareness about it can help you manage your life better.

People who smoke and consume alcohol are susceptible to developing diabetes. An increase in stressors due to high-pressure work demands and an increase in pollutants lead to adrenaline and cortisol overproduction in the body, which can then affect your body’s functioning and make you susceptible to diabetes. A surge in the consumption of processed food that is heavy in trans fats and refined carbs has increased the risk of diabetes in a large number of Indians, Chinese, and people living in other Asian countries.
Since Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition, it is unclear what sets off the body’s particular response to developing this condition. The causes may be environmental or genetic in nature. You may also develop Type 1 diabetes if you have a family history of the disease.

The exact cause of Type 2 diabetes is still a mystery. Genetics, a sedentary lifestyle, and being overweight or obese are significant factors.
Because the body tends to create insulin-blocking substances during pregnancy, gestational diabetes can develop. There are many physical changes that occur during pregnancy, such as weight growth, which can lead to hormonal imbalances and insulin resistance. Obesity and being overweight are additional risk factors for gestational diabetes. Another factor is having a family history of diabetes.
Your chance of acquiring diabetes is affected by health conditions including high blood pressure. You are also more likely to get diabetes if you smoke and are a heavy alcohol consumer.

Due to insulin resistance, people with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) can also develop Type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes.
Interestingly, Asians’ susceptibility to diabetes is recently found to have deep roots in history. Over 3,000 local Chinese citizens who were born during a famine between 1959 and 1961, and the children they had shortly after, were studied by public health scholars from Brown University and China’s Harbin Medical University.

According to this research, people who were born in China during this famine had a considerably increased chance of developing type 2 diabetes and hyperglycaemia. Curiously, even though the famine was a long time before their children were born, comparable observations were also made regarding them.

South Asians, too, have been found to have been victims of same circumstances, having gone through decades worth of famines, especially during the British Raj.
According to the World Health Organization, 77 million Indians over the age of 18 have type 2 diabetes, and over 25 million Indians are prediabetics. Over 50% of people do not know they have diabetes, which can cause serious health problems if not caught early and managed.

 

Symptoms of diabetes

Three diabetes symptoms are usually always present in adults and children who have diabetes. They are known as polydipsia (severe thirstiness), polyuria (increased urination), and polyphagia (excessive eating due to increased appetite) in medical parlance.
Other general symptoms that you should know of to better spot the issue are:
• Increased hunger
• Increase in the frequency of urination, especially at night
• Increased frequency of infections of any kind
• Feeling more tired than usual
• Delayed healing of wounds
• Genital itching
• Blurred eyesight
• Unexpected weight loss
• Extremely itchy and dry skin

 

Additionally, nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain may be experienced by those with type 1 diabetes. Gestational diabetes usually has no symptoms. Some women may experience excessive thirst or an increased urge to urinate.

 

Hyperglycaemia causes and symptoms

It is interesting to know how this phenomenon of blood sugar abnormalities occurs in the body. The contributing factors that kickstart diabetes in the body inhibit the pancreas from producing too much insulin in the body: above 180 to 200 milligrams per decilitre (mg/dL) or 10 to 11.1 millimoles per litre (mmol/L). This is understood as the cause of high blood sugar or hyperglycaemia.
The symptoms of hyperglycaemia include having a high level of blood sugar in your system, increased thirst and hunger, blurry vision, frequent urination, and headaches. If hyperglycaemia remains prolonged because of no medical intervention, it can cause weight loss, increasing infections especially around the genitals, skin infections, and the inability of wounds and cuts to heal fast.
Long-term complications are a very real possibility with hyperglycaemia. So, this issue should be tackled immediately. Cardiovascular, nervous, bone, and joint issues can occur with this condition. So can kidney damage, gum and teeth problems, and damage to blood vessels.

 

There are some emergency complications that will require you to rush to the hospital, like:

Diabetic ketoacidosis: When your body doesn’t produce enough insulin, this condition can develop and prevents glucose from supplying energy to your cells. Your body begins breaking down fat for energy instead, leading to a rise in your blood sugar level.
The poisonous chemicals known as ketones are created when fat is broken by the body to produce energy. In the blood, ketones build up and finally leak into the urine. Diabetes ketoacidosis, if left untreated, can result in a diabetic coma, which can be catastrophic.

Hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic state: When the body produces insulin, but the hormone doesn’t operate the way it should, is when this complication develops. Without ketoacidosis, blood glucose levels can rise to over 600 mg/dL (33.3 mmol/L). If you get this illness, your body won’t be able to burn fat or glucose to fuel itself.
The then conversion of glucose to urine leads to increased urination. Diabetic hyperosmolar hyperglycaemia can cause major dehydration and coma. It’s crucial to seek medical attention for it.

 

Hypoglycaemia causes and symptoms

When your blood sugar (glucose) level is below the normal range, you have hypoglycaemia. For you to be hypoglycaemic, your fasting blood sugar has to be less than 70 mg/dL. Low blood sugar can affect people differently. Learn your personal symptoms and warning indicators of low blood sugar.
You might understand your own signs of low blood sugar better by consistently recording the symptoms. The same can be applied to high blood sugar as well. The only accurate way to confirm whether you have the symptoms of high or low blood sugar, however, is to get a blood test done.
Low blood sugar causes can be related to your diabetes treatment. Taking too much insulin can be a major factor. Besides this, the timing of your insulin dosage and whether you are complementing the insulin intake with the appropriate amount of carbs are also influential. Skipping meals, drinking alcohol, and intense exercise that can overexert you are some other reasons.
The early symptoms that you may experience if you are hypoglycaemic can be tiredness, dizziness, palpitations, irregular heartbeat, feeling anxious or irritable, and tingling lips. The symptoms may worsen and manifest as fatigue, blurred vision, experiencing confusion, slurred speech, collapsing, and even seizures.

 

Diabetes emergencies and causes

Diabetic ketoacidosis and hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic state, as mentioned above, are diabetic emergencies that require immediate care. Among pregnant individuals who have type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes, there is a possibility of pre-eclampsia.

 

Pre-eclampsia is a moderately common pregnancy syndrome that raises the likelihood of health issues for both the mother and the unborn child. High blood pressure (hypertension), a defining feature of pre-eclampsia, can rise to dangerous levels if left untreated in this case. The problem often develops in the second part of pregnancy, and the latest safe stage of delivery is recommended for intervention.

 

In some cases, pre-eclampsia is not cured by delivery. If after the birth of their child, the mother’s symptoms persist, they will require continued medical attention. Additionally, even if a woman doesn’t have pre-eclampsia while she is pregnant, she can still develop it after giving birth. Some women think that the symptoms such as blurred vision, swelling, and headaches that they experience are a part of pregnancy and might just ignore them. But it’s best to stay in touch with your doctor even if you think what you’re experiencing is minor.

 

So, having emergency measures planned and put in place as well as knowing which reinforcements to call and how to reach the hospital are all factors important to prevent any adversity. In case of pre-eclampsia, the doctor and your healthcare team will ensure your journey towards wellness.
With LivLong, you can have a telephonic or online consultation with a gynaecologist, a general physician, and even a diabetologist who can help identify what you are going through. Depending on their advice and guidance, you can then go to the hospital. Consultations are available at discounted prices, and the registration steps before that are quick and easy.

 

Managing diabetes

 

Once you know the causes, then prevention of diabetes also becomes clear. Altering your lifestyle, your schedule, diet, going for regular check-ups to your doctor should become your priority so that there are no severe diabetes complications and risks in your life.
There are some basic blood tests that you should undergo to screen for diabetes and then later for management, if diagnosed. You should also acquaint yourself with the normal range of your blood sugar level as well as the low and higher ranges.
Here are some basic diagnostic tests that are done to determine the cause and prevention of diabetes:

 

Random blood sugar: A blood sample is taken at any time of the day without the need for any fasting.

 

Fasting glucose: This is also referred to as fasting blood sugar and is commonly used as a diabetic screening test. You must go 8 hours without eating or drinking (except water) before the test. To validate a diagnosis, it might be done again.

 

Oral glucose tolerance test: Fasting is necessary before this test. A blood sample will be obtained when you go for this test. The next step is to consume a sweet, glucose-containing liquid. Another blood sample will be obtained around two hours later.

 

A1C test or hba1c test: This test is used to calculate the average quantity of haemoglobin-bound glucose over the previous three months. The component of red blood cells called haemoglobin is responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to the entire body. For this test, there is no need to fast.
Urine can also be used to measure the glucose levels in your body. Although urine tests aren’t used to diagnose diabetes, they may indicate your risk for developing the condition. If your urine glucose levels are greater than usual, you will most likely require a blood test to confirm the diagnosis.

When your doctor needs to screen for diabetes, a few other diagnostic procedures might be added to these tests.

Depending on your age, gender, medical history, and other factors, your test results may vary. Your test results may also differ depending on the lab that was used. The findings might not even need to point to a problem. The relevance of your test results should be discussed with your doctor.
After selecting the specialty you want a consultation for, providing your information, verifying the OTP, making the payment, and then choosing a time slot that works for you, you may book a phone or video consultation with a LivLong doctor. LivLong has a roster of doctors who will hear you, understand you, and treat you with care.

 

Reducing risk of developing diabetes

Some risk factors for diabetes cannot be controlled; adopting a healthy lifestyle can significantly lower a person’s chances of getting the disease. It’s fairly easy to prevent this risk because all you have to do is eat healthy, keep on moving, and maintain a healthy weight. If you have these measures in place on the regular, you can ensure that diabetes remains far, far away from you.

 

Prevention
Early diagnosis can aid in the timely management of this condition and potentially put it in remission. Although there is no definitive treatment for diabetes, it is still feasible to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Ayurvedic remedies are also widely used in India; however, there are no conclusive studies demonstrating their efficacy. Although they are not hazardous, holistic remedies should only be used with your doctor’s consent. Yoga has been discovered to be a helpful technique for maintaining your health.

Working with a nutritionist is helpful if you are overweight with diabetes or if you are pregnant and have gestational diabetes. They can assist you in managing concerns like your weight, controlling heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure and blood fat levels, and controlling your blood sugar levels.

Having your caregivers and family members involved in getting your health back on track will also be helpful and remove a significant amount of stress. It will also make you remember that you are not alone in this journey.

With India being the second in the world to have the most people with diabetes and prediabetes, it is critical to have information about identifying and preventing this condition. The first step in preventing this condition is raising awareness and knowledge. You can only take preventative measures if you are aware of what diabetes is, how it is caused, and how it increases your risk of getting it. Only then will people be able to assist one another in their endeavours to lead healthier, diabetes-free lives.

 

FAQs

Do headaches cause diabetes?

Headaches are not the cause of diabetes but could be indicators of an underlying problem like diabetes. If you are experiencing frequent headaches, then this may be a sign of your blood sugar level being below or above the normal range. If you have other symptoms like excess thirst, hunger and urination, blurred vision, then you may have diabetes.

How much level of sugar is a cause of diabetes?

Headaches are not the cause of diabetes but could be indicators of an underlying problem like diabetes. If you are experiencing frequent headaches, then this may be a sign of your blood sugar level being below or above the normal range. If you have other symptoms like excess thirst, hunger and urination, blurred vision, then you may have diabetes.

How much level of sugar is a cause of diabetes?

Fasting blood sugar levels of 99 mg/dL or less are normal, 100 mg/dL to 125 mg/dL are prediabetic levels, and 126 mg/dL or above are considered diabetes levels.

Which are the most common causes of diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, and the onset can be in childhood, adolescence, or even young adulthood. The cause is just that your body is reacting in a way it should not. This is a maladaptive reaction where it is attacking itself causing your blood sugar levels to increase or dip very low.
Type 2 diabetes are caused by lifestyle issues like smoking, alcohol intake, low or no physical activity, a diet that is high in processed and junk foods, being overweight or obese and environmental stressors. Having a relative who has diabetes can also increase your risk of having Type 2 diabetes. Then, there are other comorbidities like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and gestational diabetes in women that raises their chances.
Gestational diabetes can happen to pregnant women who are overweight or obese, have prediabetes, PCOS, and a family history of diabetes, or had a previous pregnancy with gestational diabetes.

Does eating food out cause of diabetes?

It has been found that a high and frequent consumption of food that is not prepared at home like fast food and processed items can lead to diabetes. This is because these foods often lack the nutritional requirements our bodies need and are high in processed chemicals, saturated fats, and sugars, and trans fats.
If you have diabetes, you can consult with a nutritionist who can help form a diet plan for you, so you are getting all the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients without disrupting your blood glucose level. They can also help you understand how to navigate eating out without compromising on taste or giving up your favourite foods.

How do you prevent diabetes?

With type 1 diabetes, you will have to take insulin on a regular basis, as directed by your doctor. Then, maintaining a certain lifestyle where you have a balanced diet and exercise is also recommended. In the case of type 2 diabetes, you will have to make significant lifestyle changes so your health issues do not exacerbate and lead to other problems.

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