Diabetes is when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Blood glucose is the main type of sugar found in your blood and your main source of energy. Glucose comes from the food you eat and is also made in your liver and muscles. Your blood carries glucose to all of your body’s cells to use for energy.
Your pancreas—an organ, located between your stomach and spine, that helps with digestion—releases a hormone it makes, called insulin, into your blood. Insulin helps your blood carry glucose to all your body’s cells. Sometimes your body doesn’t make enough insulin or the insulin doesn’t work the way it should. Glucose then stays in your blood and doesn’t reach your cells. Your blood glucose levels get too high and can cause diabetes or prediabetes.
Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause health problems.
Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. Only 5% of people with diabetes have this form of the disease.
In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. With the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, even young children can learn to manage their condition and live long, healthy lives.
Type 2 diabetes, once known as adult-onset or noninsulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition that affects the way your body metabolizes sugar (glucose), your body's important source of fuel.
With type 2 diabetes, your body either resists the effects of insulin — a hormone that regulates the movement of sugar into your cells — or doesn't produce enough insulin to maintain a normal glucose level.
More common in adults, type 2 diabetes increasingly affects children as childhood obesity increases. There's no cure for type 2 diabetes, but you may be able to manage the condition by eating well, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight. If diet and exercise aren't enough to manage your blood sugar well, you also may need diabetes medications or insulin therapy.
Type 1 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes
Usually < 30 years, but not
Usually older, but prevalence
in children, adolescents and
young adults increasing
Usually lean weight
Mostly overweight or obese,
with acanthosis nigricans
Onset is acute
Onset is insidious/gradual
Almost always symptomatic
(i.e. polyuria, polydipsia,
Prone to ketosis, often
ketoacidosis at diagnosis
Not usually prone to ketosis,
but ketoacidosis may be
present at diagnosis
Diagnosis often during
Insulin necessary, as of
diagnosis, for survival
Usually controlled with non-insulin therapies, or may need insulin for symptom control
Otherwise normally healthy
Often have co-morbidities*
or diagnosed after
emergency admission for
myocardial infarction or
The onset of Type 2 diabetes is often slow, however there are a few symptoms that individuals should be aware of. Some of the symptoms that are common to diabetes include:
Feeling very thirsty
Feeling very hungry - even though you are eating
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)
Detecting and treating diabetes early can help decrease the chances of developing further complications.
You should not self-diagnose Diabetes. Just because you are experiencing one or more of the symptoms does not mean that you are Diabetic and the lack of these symptoms does not ultimately rule out the disease. Testing for diabetes should be carried out in a healthcare setting and usually requires a repeated test on a second day to diagnose diabetes. However, if your Doctor determines that your blood sugar level is very high and if you have symptoms with one positive test, your doctor may not require a second test to diagnose diabetes.
Some of the tests used to diagnose diabetes are discussed below:
Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG)
This test checks for the level of sugar in your blood after not having anything to eat for at least 8 hours. For best results, it is recommended that this test be done first thing in the morning before having breakfast.
Diabetes is diagnosed with a level greater or equal to 7.0mmol/l or 126 mg/dl
Normal: 3.9 to 5.5 mmols/l (70 to 100 mg/dl)
Prediabetes or Impaired Glucose Tolerance: 5.6 to 7.0 mmol/l (101 to 126 mg/dl)
Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c)
The A1C test is a blood test that provides information about a person’s average levels of blood glucose, also called blood sugar, over the past 3 months.
Normal less than 5.7%
Prediabetes 5.7% to 6.4%
Diabetes 6.5% or higher
Some people of African heritage may have a form of hemoglobin in their blood cells that affects diabetes care. Most people have only one kind of hemoglobin, called hemoglobin A. Some people have both hemoglobin A and another kind, such as hemoglobin S, C, or E. This can cause a false results for the HbA1c test. If the A1C test gives a false result, your health care provider may think your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, level is higher or lower than it really is.
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (also called the OGTT)
The OGTT is a two-hour test that checks your blood glucose levels before and 2 hours after you drink a special sweet drink. It tells the doctor how your body processes glucose.
Normal less than 140 mg/dl
Prediabetes 140 mg/dl to 199 mg/dl
Diabetes 200 mg/dl or higher
Random (also called Casual) Plasma Glucose Test
This test is a blood check at any time of the day when you have severe diabetes symptoms.
Diabetes is diagnosed at blood glucose of greater than or equal to 200 mg/dl
Your healthcare provider will determine the best time to begin a medication management of your diabetes. Below are some lifestyle modifications for the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes.
Individuals with type 2 diabetes who are obese or overweight should work towards losing weight as this is a very important in the management of their condition. This can be achieved through implementing healthy lifestyle changes that include reducing caloric intake, consuming less saturated or Trans-fats, cholesterol, salts and increasing physical activity.
Please avoid restrictive, carb –free, fat-free, low calories and high- protein diets as these may not offer any long term benefits over traditionally healthy eating plans.
A.Follow a healthy balanced eating plan
Eat a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables every day, but avoid fruit juices
At least half of the grain intake must be from wholegrain products
Consume low-fat dairy products and soya beverages fortified with calcium
Use a variety of meat alternatives, including pulses, soya and tofu
Consume fish at least twice per week
Limit the intake of processed and convenience foods
Increase the intake of water to meet daily fluid requirements
B.Alcohol Consumption (Abstaining from alcohol is highly encouraged but If you choose to drink follow these guidelines)
Practice caution when you are drinking alcohol, do not drink on an empty stomach or when your blood sugar is low.
Do not replace your regular meals with alcohol
Sip your drink slowly to make it last and enables you drink less
Choose calorie free drink mixers like diet soda etc. when making or ordering mixed drinks
Do not drive or plan to drive for several hours after you drink alcohol.
Inform your doctor if you drink several times a week as this will determine your treatment of choice.
Exercise can help you improve your blood sugar control
Inform your healthcare provider before beginning any physical activities
Perform at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic physical activity
Test your sugar 30 minutes before exercise
If lower than 100mg/dl (5.6mmol/L) – eat a carb-containing snack
It is never too late to change your lifestyle. Sometimes prevention can be as basic as eating healthy foods, becoming more physically active, and losing weight. Even after being diagnosed with diabetes engaging in these lifestyle changes can reduce and often eliminate your chances of developing additional complications such as kidney, heart, nerve damage.
Consider the latest general diabetes prevention tips from the American Diabetes Association.
Tip 1: Get more physical activity
There are many benefits to regular physical activity. Exercise can help you:
Lower your blood sugar
Boost your sensitivity to insulin — which helps keep your blood sugar within a normal range
Research shows that both aerobic exercise and resistance training can help control diabetes, but the greater benefit comes from a fitness program that includes both.
Tip 2: Get plenty of fiber
It's rough, it's tough — and it may help you:
Reduce your risk of diabetes by improving your blood sugar control
Lower your risk of heart disease
Promote weight loss by helping you feel full
Foods high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
Tip 3: Go for whole grains
Although it's not clear why, whole grains may reduce your risk of diabetes and help maintain blood sugar levels. Try to make at least half your grains whole grains. Many foods made from whole grains come ready to eat, including various breads, pasta products and many cereals. Look for the word "whole" on the package and among the first few items in the ingredient list.
Tip 4: Lose extra weight
If you're overweight, diabetes prevention may hinge on weight loss. Every pound you lose can improve your health, and you may be surprised by how much. Participants in one large study who lost a modest amount of weight — around 7 percent of initial body weight — and exercised regularly reduced the risk of developing diabetes by almost 60 percent.
Tip 5: Skip fad diets and just make healthier choices
Low-carb diets, the glycemic index diet or other fad diets may help you lose weight at first, but their effectiveness at preventing diabetes isn't known nor are their long-term effects. And by excluding or strictly limiting a particular food group, you may be giving up essential nutrients. Instead, think variety and portion control as part of an overall healthy-eating plan.
When to see your doctor
If you're older than age 45 and your weight is normal, ask your doctor if diabetes testing is appropriate for you. The American Diabetes Association recommends blood glucose screening if:
You're age 45 or older and overweight
You're younger than age 45 and overweight with one or more additional risk factors for type 2 diabetes — such as a sedentary lifestyle or a family history of diabetes
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