An overview of diabetes and ways to manage it

Diabetes is a serious health condition that’s becoming ever more prevalent. It’s a disease that causes high blood sugar levels because the body either doesn’t produce enough of the hormone insulin or is unable to effectively use the insulin it does produce. Raised blood sugar (also known as hyperglycemia) might not sound overly dangerous; however, if left unchecked it can result in extensive damage to many of the body’s organs and systems. That’s why it’s so important to know how to manage the disease if you suffer from it. There are many steps you can take in order to treat or prevent diabetes, including both medication and lifestyle factors. Read on to find out more.

Types of diabetes

There are two main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes – in which the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys cells in the pancreas that produce insulin
  • Type 2 diabetes – in which the body either doesn’t make enough insulin, or your cells don’t react properly to the hormone

Research indicates that around 10% of the US population have diabetes, with type 2 being by far the more common variety. Some of the most frequently seen symptoms for both versions of the disease include increased thirst, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, blurred vision, frequent infections, and cuts or wounds healing more slowly.

Causes and risk factors

The cause of type 1 diabetes is thought to be more closely linked to genetics, whereas type 2 is often caused by lifestyle elements. Factors which could increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes include:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Being 45 or older
  • Having a family history of the condition
  • high blood pressure/ cholesterol levels
  • Being physically inactive

If you’re at risk, it’s vital that you are screened regularly in order to catch the presence of the condition early. Long term hyperglycemia can result in complications such as heart disease, hearing loss, vision loss, damage to the feet, skin conditions, kidney damage, depression and dementia – so early treatment is crucial.

Managing the condition

You can treat and manage diabetes, and lots of people live with the condition without experiencing any complications. One method is of course medication, and this is something that you should discuss with your physician if you are diagnosed with diabetes.

In terms of lifestyle factors, there are several steps you can take to either manage or prevent diabetes. Obesity management is high on the list because being overweight puts you at higher risk. Aim for a healthy diet that’s low in sugar, for example by cutting out sweet snacks and sodas. Fresh vegetables, whole grains, fish, nuts and seeds are key instead.

Increasing your activity levels is also key, you should exercise multiple times a week or daily if you can. Anything from walking and yoga to dance and martial arts can be effective, so find something you enjoy and stick at it! Exercise can benefit your brain and body, and is useful not just for weight loss.