What is diabetes?
Diabetes Mellitus is nothing but a high level of sugar (glucose) in our blood. This disease is commonly known as just “Sugar” or “Diabetes” in Nepal.
Sugar (glucose) is a source of energy for us and we cannot survive without it. If sugar is a source of energy and good for us, why then high levels of sugar in our blood is bad? But, unfortunately as a famous proverb says: “Too much sweet is bitter”, it is true for us as well. Why?
When we eat sugar (glucose, carbohydrates), it is absorbed in our intestines and circulates in our blood. Then, this sugar needs to enter our cells as a source of energy. But our cell does not allow sugar just to enter or leave the cell. It has a door with a lock. Fortunately there is a key known as Insulin, that unlocks this door and sugar enters the cell. If due to some reason,
this key Insulin (a hormone) is absent or less, or the key is broken, or the lock in the cell is jammed, then sugar cannot enter our cells. So our cells will be hungry and deprived from required energy. But, at the same time, as sugar cannot enter the cells, level of sugar remains high in the blood. Its like a highway full of Fuel Tankers with petrol, but petrol pumps are not functioning or few. Although there are lot of petrol on the highway but our vehicle is empty. Same thing happens to our body. Although there are lot of sugar in our blood, but our cells are hungry, thus our body cannot perform well and we get ill.
What causes diabetes?
There are two types of diabetes mellitus: Type 1 and Type 2.
Type 1 diabetes, a very rare form, are common for young age, where the cells that produce insulin are no longer capable of producing insulin. Thus, Type 1 diabetes is always insulin dependent. That means we cannot survive without insulin injections. There are no single cause identified that causes Type 1 diabetes, but most reasonable explanation is destruction of cells that produce insulin by infection or immune system.
Type 2 diabetes is more common for elder age and most common type. Type 2 diabetes are caused by genetic factors, and other multiple reasons, specially mental stress. So if our parent is suffering from diabetes, then chance of getting diabetes is 50%. Mental stress, sedentary life style and unhealthy eating habits will potentiate the chance of getting diabetes. In Type 2 diabetes insulin is produced in less quantity than is required or the insulin receptors in our cells (door lock of cells as described above) are defective (term known as insulin resistance). Thus, Type 2 diabetes do not always require Insulin injections and can be treated by medicines, which stimulate the insulin production, or medicines that improves the performance of insulin receptors in our cells.
What are the symptoms of Diabetes?
The initial stage of diabetes do not have any symptoms and often goes undiagnosed. Common symptoms of diabetes in Nepal are:
1. Increased urination.
2. Increased thirst.
3. Increased hunger.
4. Weight loss.
5. Dry skin.
6. Skin infections.
7. Tiredness, lethargy and fatigue.
8. Blurred vision.
9. Tingling/numbness in hands/feet.
How to find out if you have Diabetes?
A simple blood sugar test can determine your level of sugar in the blood and Diabetes is diagnosed if its higher than normal. There are 4 types of blood sugar test.
1. Random blood sugar (independent of when you had your meal): less than 140 mg/dl is normal.
2. Fasting Blood Sugar (at least 8 hours of fasting): less than 120 mg/dl is normal.
3. PP (postprandial) Blood Sugar (exactly 2 hours after having meal): less than 140 mg/dl is normal.
4. HbA1c: gives average blood sugar level for past 3 to 4 months: less than 6.5% is normal.
Pre-diabetes- what is it?
In order for you to take timely prevention from diabetes, there is a term used as Prediabetes in order to determine if you are at risk of Diabetes in future.So that you can change your lifestyle and diet to Prevent diabetes. Below figure explains the level of Sugars for Diabetics and Prediabetics. A1C means HbA1c and FPG means Fasting Blood Sugar. Red levels are Diabetes, Yellow are Prediabetes and while (below yellow) are Normal levels.
If you have the symptoms mentioned above and you would like to get checked for blood sugar level our labs are open daily 7am to 7pm and 7am to 1 pm on Saturdays and Public Holidays.
If you need further advice please do not hesitate to contact us.