Diabetes: All You Need to Know

Diabetes is a condition that damages the body’s ability to process blood glucose (blood sugar). Diabetes can lead to accumulation of sugars in the blood if left unchecked. This can increase the risk of dangerous complications, including stroke and heart disease.

Types of Diabetes

There are different kinds of diabetes, and managing the condition depends on the type. Not all forms of diabetes come from a person being overweight or leading a sedentary lifestyle. In fact, some are present from childhood.

There are three (3) major types of diabetes. They include:

Type I diabetes: This type is also known as juvenile diabetes. It occurs when the body fails to produce insulin. People with this type of diabetes must produce artificial insulin daily to stay alive, this makes them insulin-dependent.

Type 2 diabetes: This type of diabetes affects the way the body uses insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the body still makes insulin, but the cells in the body fails to respond to it as effectively as they once did. This is the most common type of diabetes.

Gestational diabetes: This type of diabetes affects women during pregnancy. It occurs when the body can become less sensitive to insulin. Gestational diabetes does not occur in all women and usually resolves after giving birth.

Less common types of diabetes include monogenic diabetes and cystic fibrosis-related diabetes.

READ ALSO: 15 Effective Ways to Prevent Diabetes


Usually, the normal blood sugar levels is between 70 and 99 mg/dL, whereas a person with diabetes will have a fasting blood sugar higher than 126 mg/dL.

Prediabetes or borderline diabetes occurs when blood sugar is in the range of 100 to 125 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). The prediabetes level means that blood glucose is higher than usual but not so high as to cause diabetes.

People with prediabetes are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, although they do not usually experience the symptoms of full diabetes.

The risk factors for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes are similar. They include:

  • family history of diabetes
  • being overweight or obese
  • high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol level lower than 40 mg/dL or 50 mg/dL
  • history of high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • having gestational diabetes or giving birth to a child with a birth weight of more than 9 pounds
  • a history of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • being of African-American, Native American, Latin American, or Asian-Pacific Islander descent
  • being more than 45 years of age
  • a sedentary lifestyle

It’s essential to go for regular checkup. If your doctor identifies that you have prediabetes, he/she would recommend you make healthful changes that can considerably stop the progression to type 2 diabetes. Losing weight and having a more healthful diet can often help prevent the disease.

READ ALSO: How to Use Aloe vera to Ease Diabetes Symptoms

Causes of Type 2 Diabetes (Insulin resistance)

The exact causes of type I diabetes is unknown by doctors, however, type 2 diabetes, also known as insulin resistance has more known causes.

Insulin allows the glucose from a person’s food to access the cells in their body to supply energy. Insulin resistance can be explained in the following steps:

  • A person has genes or an environment that make it difficult for them to produce enough insulin to cover how much glucose they consume.
  • The body then tries to make extra insulin to process the excess blood glucose.
  • The pancreas fails to keep up with the increased demands, and the excess blood sugar begins to circulate in the blood, leading to damage.
  • Insulin becomes less effective at introducing glucose to cells over time, and blood sugar levels continue to rise. Insulin resistance occurs gradually in type 2 diabetes.

Tips To Manage Diabetes

A person diagnosed with type 2 diabetes will often be advised to make lifestyle changes to support weight loss and overall health. A doctor may refer a person with diabetes or prediabetes to a nutritionist. A specialist can help a person with diabetes lead an active, balanced lifestyle and manage the condition.

Steps a person can take to embrace a lifestyle with diabetes include:

  • Refraining from consuming high-sugar foods that provide empty calories such as sweetened sodas, high-sugar desserts, and fried foods.
  • Eating a diet high in fresh foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and nuts.
  • Refraining from drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
  • Engaging in at least 30 minutes exercise (swimming, riding, aerobics, walking, biking) on daily basis in at least 5 days of the week.
  • Recognizing signs of low blood sugar when exercising, including dizziness, confusion, weakness, and profuse sweating.
  • People can also take steps to reduce their body mass index (BMI), which can help some people with type 2 diabetes manage the condition without medication.

Using Insulin to Manage Diabetes

For type I diabetes and type 2 diabetes, patients may need to inject or inhale insulin to keep their blood sugar levels from becoming too high. There are various types of insulin which are grouped by how long their effect lasts. There are:

  • Rapid insulin
  • Regular insulin
  • Intermediate insulin
  • Long-acting insulin.

Some people will use a long-acting insulin injection to maintain consistently low blood sugar levels. Some people may use short-acting insulin or a combination of insulin types. Irrespective of the type a diabetic is using, he/she will usually check their blood glucose levels using a fingerstick.

The fingerstick method of checking blood sugar levels involves using a special, portable machine called a glucometer. A person with type I diabetes will then use the reading of their blood sugar level to determine how much insulin they need.

Insulin aids people with diabetes live an active lifestyle. However, if a person administers too much, it can lead to severe side-effects.

Excessive insulin can cause extreme shakiness, nausea, excess sweating, and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

Other medications

In addition to insulin, other types of medication are available that can benefit diabetics. They include:


A doctor may prescribe metformin in pill or liquid form for type 2 diabetes. Metformin helps lowers blood sugar, makes insulin more effective, and also help in weight loss. Having a healthy weight can reduce the impact of diabetes.

SGLT2 inhibitors and GLP-1 receptor agonists

new guidelines in 2018 also recommended prescribing sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors or glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists for people with:

  • Chronic kidney disease
  • atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease

These are.

For those with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and a high risk of heart failure, the guidelines advise doctors to prescribe an SGLT2 inhibitor.

GLP-1 receptor agonists: This injectable drug increases the amount of insulin the body produces and decreases the amount of glucose that enters the bloodstream. People may use it with metformin or alone. Side effects may include loss of appetite and nausea.

SLGT2 inhibitors: This lowers blood glucose levels. They work separately from insulin, and they may be useful for people who are not ready to start using insulin. People can take it orally. Side effects include a higher risk of ketoacidosis, urinary and genital infections.

Self-monitoring Blood Glucose Tips

Self-monitoring blood sugar levels is essential for managing diabetes effectively, helping to regulate meal scheduling, physical activity, and when to take medication, including insulin.

While self-monitoring blood glucose (SMBG) machines vary, they will generally include a meter and test strip for generating readings and a lancing device to prick the skin for obtaining a small quantity of blood.

Refer to the specific instructions of a meter in every case, as machines will differ. However, the following precautions and steps will apply to many of the machines on the market:

  • Ensure both hands are clean and dry before touching the test strips or meter
  • Avoid using a test strip more than once and keep them in their original canister to avoid external moisture.
  • Keep canisters closed after testing.
  • Always check the expiration date.
  • Older meters might require coding prior to use. Check to see if the machine currently in use requires this.
  • Store the meter and strips in a dry, cool area.
  • Consult your doctor with the meter and strips to check their effectiveness.

Source: medicalnewstoday.com, diabetesnewstoday.com, brockandstout.com, medlineplus.com

Disclaimer: The content provided on healthdiary365.com is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical doctor or healthcare professional.


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