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Diabetes: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

This article explains diabetes, which is a condition that occurs when blood sugar levels in the body are too high.
Diabetes: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

What is Diabetes? Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Diabetes is a condition that occurs when blood sugar (glucose) levels in the body are too high. Blood sugar is the main source of energy for the cells that form muscles and body tissue. Blood sugar comes from the food we consume. To help body cells use blood sugar as energy, the body needs the hormone insulin, which is produced by the pancreas gland.

However, in people with diabetes, the body cannot produce enough insulin or cannot use insulin properly. As a result, blood sugar builds up in the bloodstream and can cause various health problems, such as damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart.

There are several types of diabetes, namely:

  1. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which the body's immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. People with type 1 diabetes must get lifelong insulin injections to control their blood sugar.
  2. Type 2 diabetes is a condition that occurs when the body cannot produce enough insulin or the body's cells become resistant to insulin. Type 2 diabetes is usually associated with risk factors such as being overweight, an inactive lifestyle, or a family history of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can be controlled with a healthy diet, regular exercise, and oral medications or insulin injections if needed.
  3. Gestational diabetes, which is a condition that occurs in pregnant women who have not previously had diabetes. Gestational diabetes is caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy that interfere with insulin action. Gestational diabetes usually goes away after birth, but it can increase the risk of mother and baby developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
  4. Other diabetes, namely conditions caused by genetic factors, pancreatic disease, infections, drugs, or other conditions that affect the production or use of insulin.

Symptoms of Diabetes

Diabetes symptoms can vary depending on the type and severity of diabetes. Symptoms of type 1 diabetes usually appear suddenly and are more severe than the symptoms of type 2 diabetes which tend to develop gradually and are less pronounced.

Some common symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Weight loss for no reason
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Blurred vision
  • Wounds that are difficult to heal
  • Frequent skin, gum or vaginal infections

If not treated immediately, diabetes can cause serious complications, such as:

  1. Diabetic ketoacidosis which is a condition that occurs when the body lacks insulin and begins to break down fat as an energy source. This produces toxic substances called ketones, which can cause increased blood acidity, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, stomach ache, fruit-smelling breath, decreased consciousness, and even coma or death.
  2. Hypoglycemia, which is a condition that occurs when blood sugar levels are too low due to insulin overdose, not eating enough, or excessive exercise. Hypoglycemia can cause symptoms such as shaking, sweating, dizziness, hunger, weakness, confusion, restlessness, difficulty speaking, and even loss of consciousness or seizures.
  3. Long-term complications, namely conditions that occur due to high blood sugar levels for a long time, which can damage various organs and body tissues, such as the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart and blood vessels. Long-term complications can cause vision problems, kidney failure, diabetic neuropathy, heart disease, stroke, impotence, amputation and early death.
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Causes of Diabetes

The causes of diabetes vary depending on the type. In general, diabetes occurs due to interference with the production or use of insulin in the body.

Insulin is a hormone that functions to help body cells take up blood sugar and use it as an energy source. Blood sugar comes from the food we consume, especially carbohydrates. If the body cannot produce or use insulin properly, blood sugar will build up in the bloodstream and cause diabetes.

The cause of type 1 diabetes is the body's immune system attacking and destroying insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. This causes the body to not be able to produce insulin at all. The exact cause of this autoimmune attack is not yet known, but it is thought to be related to genetic and environmental factors.

The cause of type 2 diabetes is the body's inability to produce enough insulin or the insensitivity of the body's cells to insulin. This causes blood sugar to not be able to enter the body's cells and be used as energy. Risk factors that can increase the chance of developing type 2 diabetes include:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Inactive lifestyle or lack of exercise
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Age over 45 years
  • Certain races or ethnicities, such as African, Asian, or Hispanic
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • High cholesterol or dyslipidemia
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS
  • History of gestational diabetes or giving birth to a high birth-weight baby

The cause of gestational diabetes is hormonal changes during pregnancy that interfere with insulin work. This causes blood sugar levels to increase in pregnant women who previously did not have diabetes. Risk factors that can increase the chance of developing gestational diabetes include:

  • Being overweight or obese before pregnancy
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Age over 25 years
  • Certain races or ethnicities, such as African, Asian, or Hispanic
  • History of gestational diabetes or giving birth to a high birth-weight baby
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • High cholesterol or dyslipidemia

Diabetes Treatment

Diabetes treatment aims to control blood sugar levels within the normal range and prevent or delay complications that may occur. Diabetes treatment may include:

  1. Insulin therapy, namely administering insulin via injection or pump to replace insulin that is not produced or is underproduced by the body. Insulin therapy is necessary for people with type 1 diabetes and some people with type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes that cannot be controlled with oral medications.
  2. Oral medications, namely administering medications that can help the body produce more insulin, increase the sensitivity of body cells to insulin, reduce sugar absorption from the intestines, or reduce sugar production by the liver. Oral medications may be used for people with type 2 diabetes who do not need insulin therapy or as an adjunct to insulin therapy.
  3. Injectable drugs, namely administering drugs that can imitate other hormones involved in regulating blood sugar, such as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) or amylin. Injectable medications may be used for people with type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes that cannot be controlled with oral medications or insulin therapy.
  4. Healthy eating patterns, namely managing food intake that is balanced, nutritious and in accordance with the body's needs. A healthy diet can help control blood sugar levels, body weight, blood pressure and cholesterol. Some principles of healthy eating patterns for people with diabetes include:
    • Consume foods rich in fiber, such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains and nuts.
    • Reduce foods that are high in saturated fat, such as red meat, butter, cheese and coconut milk.
    • Replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, fish oil, avocado and nuts.
    • Avoid foods that are high in added sugar, such as cakes, candy, syrup and sweet drinks.
    • Reduce foods that are high in salt, such as crackers, instant seasonings and processed foods.
    • Measuring food portions and calculating carbohydrates consumed.
    • Maintain a regular eating schedule, and don't skip breakfast.
  5. Regular exercise, namely doing physical activity that suits your abilities and body condition. Regular exercise can help control blood sugar levels, body weight, blood pressure and cholesterol. Exercise can also increase the sensitivity of body cells to insulin and prevent diabetes complications. Some exercise tips for people with diabetes include:
    • Choose a type of exercise that is fun and varied, such as walking, cycling, swimming or gymnastics.
    • Do aerobic exercise for 30 minutes, at least 5 times a week, with moderate to high intensity.
    • Do strength sports, such as lifting weights or push-ups, at least two times a week, with moderate to high intensity.
    • Measure blood sugar levels before and after exercise and adjust food and medication intake if necessary.
    • Wear comfortable footwear that protects your feet from injuries.
    • Drink enough water before, during and after exercise.
    • Recognize the symptoms of hypoglycemia and bring food or drinks containing simple sugars, such as candy, honey, or fruit juice, to overcome them.
  6. Routine examinations, namely carrying out regular health examinations to monitor diabetes conditions and prevent or detect complications that may occur. Routine check-ups may include:
    • Blood sugar examination, namely measuring blood sugar levels in capillary blood using a tool called a glucometer. Blood sugar checks can be done yourself at home or at a health facility. Blood sugar checks can be done before and after eating, before and after exercise, before bed, or as recommended by a doctor.
    • Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) examination, namely measuring the average blood sugar level in the last 2-3 months using a tool called an HbA1c analyzer. HbA1c examination can be done in a laboratory or health facility. HbA1c examination can be done every 3-6 months or according to doctor's recommendations.
    • Blood pressure examination, namely measuring blood pressure using a device called a sphygmomanometer. Blood pressure checks can be done at home or at a health facility. Blood pressure checks can be done every day or according to doctor's recommendations.
    • Cholesterol examination, namely measuring cholesterol levels in the blood using a tool called a lipid analyzer. Cholesterol testing can be done in a laboratory or health facility. Cholesterol checks can be done every 6-12 months or according to the doctor's recommendations.
    • Kidney examination, namely measuring kidney function using a urine test or blood test. Kidney examination can be done in a laboratory or health facility. Kidney examinations can be carried out every year or according to doctor's recommendations.
    • Eye examination, namely measuring the condition of the eyes using an instrument called an ophthalmoscope or funduscopy. Eye examinations can be carried out at eye clinics or health facilities. Eye examinations can be carried out every year or as recommended by a doctor.
    • Foot examination, namely measuring the condition of the foot using a tool called a monofilament or tuning fork. Foot examinations can be done at home or at a health facility. Foot examinations can be done every day or according to doctor's recommendations.

Recipes to Treat Diabetes

Here are some effective recipes for treating diabetes from Dr. Zaidul Akbar

First Recipe with Cinnamon

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp honey

Method

  1. Brew cinnamon with warm water.
  2. Drink once a day. This simple recipe will keep your kidneys, digestive system, and body filled with essential minerals and nutrients, one of which helps treat diabetes.
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Conclusion of diabetes

Diabetes is a condition that occurs when blood sugar levels in the body are too high. Diabetes can cause various health problems, such as damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart. Diabetes can be controlled with insulin therapy, oral or injectable medications, a healthy diet, regular exercise, and regular check-ups. With proper treatment and a healthy lifestyle, people with diabetes can live a normal, quality life.

Reference:
Medical News Today. Accessed 2023. Diabetes: Symptoms, Treatment, and Early Diagnosis.
WebMD. Accessed 2023. Diabetes Center: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Tests, and Treatments.
Mayo Clinic. Accessed 2023. Diabetes.
Cleveland Clinic. Accessed 2023. Diabetes: An Overview.
NIDDK. Accessed 2023. Diabetes Tests & Diagnosis.

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