Around the world, millions of people live with diabetes or know someone living with diabetes.

Regardless of the type of diabetes, diabetes is not yet curable. 

However, it is a very treatable disease, and no matter how frightening, annoying, and frustrating it can be, people with diabetes can live long, healthy, and happy lives, the American Diabetes Association says. 

There are few things you should know about diabetes and it is believed that the more knowledge people get about the disease, the easier it becomes to tackle. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says one in two people with diabetes remain undiagnosed while research has also shown that less than one-in-five people would be able to spot the warning signs of diabetes in their families.

1. Types Of Diabetes 

There are three classic diagnoses of this disease and they are Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational Diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes occurs when an immune response causes damage to the pancreas and insulin can not be produced. Type 1 Diabetics must take insulin daily.

Type 2 Diabetes occurs when tissues in the body become resistant to insulin. Type 2 Diabetes is the most common type, making up about 95% of cases, and is associated with being overweight, poor diet and physical inactivity.

The exact cause isn’t known, but having excess body fat appears to have something to do with it. 

To compensate for insulin resistance, the pancreas produces more and more insulin, but over time the pancreas gets week and may lose the ability to produce it altogether. If this happens, Type 2 Diabetics must take insulin daily.

Gestational diabetes, or diabetes during pregnancy, can occur due to the physiological changes that occur during pregnancy. 

Gestational diabetes commonly goes away after pregnancy but women with gestational diabetes are at greater risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes later in life.

2. Who Is At Risk 

There are some risk factors associated with diabetes - being overweight or obese; having a family history of diabetes; being a dark skin person, having a prior history of gestational diabetes; having high blood pressure, high cholesterol and/or being physically inactive.

Diabetes is not contagious. 

3. Dangers 

The dangers associated with diabetes begin with an uncontrolled blood sugar level.

High amounts of sugar in the blood will damage tiny blood vessels and nerves.

When the blood sugar level becomes chronic, it causes widespread damage in the body, affecting different organs.

Eyes: High levels of sugar in the blood causes damage to the small blood vessels within the retina leading to worsening vision and possibly blindness.

Research has found that diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults 20–74 years old.

Kidneys: High blood sugar damages tiny blood vessels in the kidneys, which decreases this organ’s ability to filter blood. High blood pressure, which is common in diabetes, only increases kidney damage.

If kidney function decline is severe, blood must to be filtered by a machine – a process called dialysis. Dialysis is costly, time-consuming, and exhausting for those with kidney disease. One dialysis session takes 4 hours and must be done 3 times per week.

Nerves: High blood sugar can lead to nervous system damage leading to impaired sensation in the hands or feet, slowed digestion and other nerve problems.

Ulcers may form on the hands or feet and, if left untreated, can lead to amputation. 

Brain & Heart: Diabetics are at greater risk for stroke, dental, and heart disease. Approximately 20% of diabetics will die of stroke, making it a leading cause of death in this population. 

4. Symptoms

The common symptoms of diabetes are;

  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Feeling very hungry - even though you are eating
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Weight loss - even though you are eating more (type 1)
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)
  • 5. What To Do

    A lot has been said about the food that an individual with diabetes should eat.

    Some have ruled out carbohydrate totally, but the truth is that diabetics can safely enjoy carbohydrates and control their blood sugar. 

    Each diabetic’s needs are different, but spikes in blood sugar may be controlled through a combination of medications, insulin injections and/or healthy lifestyle changes–like eating a balanced diet, being mindful of carbohydrate intake and exercising regularly. 

    6 Reversible? 

    Diabetes is reversible and improved control of blood sugar has been shown to benefit those with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. 

    In general, one percentage point drop in A1C blood test results (for example, going from 8.0% to 7.0%) can reduce the risk of eye, kidney, and nerve diseases by 40%.

    For Type 2 Diabetes, people who have made lifestyle changes - losing weight, eating health and exercising regularly - have seen results. 

    These lifestyle changes are more effective in preventing or delaying diabetes than medications. Not surprisingly, making small, healthy lifestyle changes are less costly too.  

    It is World Diabetes Day and you can try our how well you know about this non-communication disease by taking this diabetes awareness test

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