Last modified on February 2022
With inputs from Dr. Abhishtita Mudunuri
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a common name for Diabetes Mellitus, a metabolic disease that occurs when the blood sugar levels in the body are too high. When a person is diagnosed with diabetes, the person’s body is either not producing enough insulin or cannot utilize the produced insulin effectively.
Not initiating diabetes treatment can lead to other health complications such as damage to the eyes, nerves, kidneys, and other organs. There are different types of diabetes that are caused due to various reasons. However, irrespective of the type, they all increase blood sugar levels in your body. Having said that, certain types of diabetes can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle.
This ultimate guide to diabetes will cover the following:
- Chapter 1: Symptoms of Diabetes
- Chapter 2: Causes of Diabetes
- Chapter 3: Types of Diabetes
- Chapter 4: Type 1 Diabetes
- Chapter 5: Type 2 Diabetes
- Chapter 6: Prediabetes
- Chapter 7: Gestational Diabetes
- Chapter 8: Insulin Resistance
- Chapter 9: Genes and Family History
- Chapter 10: Risk Factors
- Chapter 11: Exercise and Diet
- Chapter 12: Prevention
- Chapter 13: Treatment and Management
- Chapter 14: Frequently Asked Questions on Diabetes
Chapter 1: Symptoms of Diabetes
The symptoms of diabetes vary from person to person, depending on the blood sugar levels in the body. Those with Type 1 diabetes experience symptoms at early stages, and they are severe. Type 2 and prediabetes can also cause symptoms.
The following are the common symptoms of diabetes:
- Frequent urination
- Increased thirst
- Always hungry
- Sudden weight loss
- Blurred vision
- Tingling and numbness in feet or hands or both
- Frequent infections, especially urinary tract infections or yeast infections
Symptoms in Men
Along with the symptoms mentioned above, poor muscle strength, sexual problems, and erectile dysfunction are the other general symptoms observed in men.
Symptoms in Women
Dry and itchy skin, urinary tract infections, yeast infections are common symptoms in women.
Chapter 2: Causes of Diabetes
We know that when the glucose levels in the blood are higher than required, it causes diabetes. But, do you know the role of glucose and insulin in our body?
- Glucose is a form of sugar that provides energy to our cells, and it can be obtained either through food or from the liver.
- The gland called the pancreas secretes the hormone insulin, which is responsible for sugar or glucose entry into the cells of the body.
- Depending on whether the insulin is produced enough by the body or if the produced insulin is utilized well by the body, different types of diabetes can occur.
- When the insulin levels are high, the excess glucose is stored in the liver in the form of glycogen.
- When there is a gap between your meals, the liver releases glycogen into the bloodstream in the form of glucose to maintain blood sugar levels.
- However, when there is insufficient insulin, the produced glucose stays in the blood.
- Sometimes, the body is resistant to insulin, which causes glucose to spill over in the blood.
- This rise in glucose levels leads to diabetes and other complications such as kidney damage, nerve damage, blindness, or limb removal.
Chapter 3: Types of Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease as the body itself destroys the hormones secreted by the pancreas. According to studies, 10% of people have type 1 diabetes. It can be diagnosed in children as well as in young adults. People with Type 1 diabetes need to take insulin every day, and hence, it is also known as insulin-dependent diabetes.
Types 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is when the body is resistant to insulin or cannot fully utilize the produced insulin. Studies show that up to 95% of people have type 2 diabetes. It is diagnosed in middle-aged and older people. Type 2 diabetes is also known as insulin-resistant diabetes.
Learn more about the difference between Type 1 and 2 diabetes.
Prediabetes usually occurs before Type 2 diabetes. The blood glucose levels are above normal levels. However, it is not so high to be diagnosed as diabetes.
Gestational diabetes occurs in pregnant women due to changes in hormones. This type of diabetes usually goes away on its own after pregnancy. But if that doesn’t happen, they may be at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.
Chemical-induced or drug diabetes may occur due to organ transplantation or steroids (glucocorticoids).
Cystic Fibrosis related diabetes
This condition is a diabetes type that is developed in people who are diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.
Here is a video that explains the difference between Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes:
Chapter 4: Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is common among children and young adults, and therefore, it is also known as juvenile diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms
The symptoms of Type 1 diabetes are similar to the general symptoms of diabetes. However, there are a few emergency signs that are considered to be experienced by Type 1 diabetic person, and they are:
- Rapid breathing
- Pain in the belly region
- Shivering and confusion
- Fruity smells while breathing
Type 1 Diabetes Causes
When the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, there is a rise in blood glucose levels. This rise in blood glucose levels cause the following:
- Dehydration: The body tries to remove the extra glucose in the body in the form of urine. When a large quantity of water and essential fluids is removed, your body will dry out, leading to dehydration.
- Weight loss: Along with the excess glucose, urine also contains calories, proteins and therefore, there will be sudden weight loss in a diabetic person.
Damage to other body parts: Since the glucose levels are high, it causes inflammation and damage to blood vessels and nerve endings, thus, affecting organs like the eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Excess blood glucose levels also may lead to blood clotting, which may, in turn, increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Chapter 5: Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is common among middle-aged people; however, a few changes in lifestyle and food can delay the onset or even reverse this disease.
Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms
- Tingling sensation in hands and feet
- Infections or wounds that do not heal easily
- Increased urination and thirst
- Increased hunger
- Increased frequency of infections like urinary tract infection, and yeast infections
Type 2 Diabetes Causes
If the blood sugar levels are not under control, they may lead to the following conditions:
- Hypoglycemia: When the blood sugar level is below 70 mg/dL, it can lead to coma, accidents, and even death.
- Hyperglycemia: When the blood sugar level is above 180-200 mg/dL, there are chances of having heart, kidney, nerve, and vision problems. The long-term effects of hyperglycemia are damage to end organs, increasing your risk of life-threatening health conditions such as heart attacks, coma, and strokes.
- Heart problems: High blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels and nerves, which can cause inflammation and the formation of blood clots, affecting the functioning of your heart.
- Skin problems: Infections and itching are common in diabetic people. Due to poor blood circulation and inflammation in the body, there will be skin patches and infections.
- Obesity in young children: Studies have shown that lack of physical activity in young children can increase their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Being overweight can open doors to several diseases.
Refer to the below video to understand how genetics and lifestyle choices cause type 2 diabetes:
Chapter 6: Prediabetes
Studies show that people with Type 2 diabetes were previously prediabetic. Reaching the stage of prediabetes can be prevented by opting for a healthy lifestyle and diet.
- Abdominal weight gain or increase in waist circumference and difficulty losing weight
- Skin pigmentation especially around the neck, armpits, groin area: Acanthosis nigricans
- Always hungry or sugar cravings
- Fatigue, especially drowsiness after a high carbohydrate meal
- Generalized body pains or frequent headaches
- PCOD in women
The exact cause of prediabetes is still unknown. However, the family history and genes have a significant role to play. Also, the following lifestyle choices and being diagnosed with other health conditions can cause prediabetes:
- Being overweight
- Not being physically active
- Diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome
- Having a parent or close relative with Type 2 diabetes
- Not sleeping for 6-8 hours a day
- Increased stress levels
Chapter 7: Gestational Diabetes
In the US, studies have shown that 10% of women are diagnosed with gestational diabetes even if they have never been diagnosed with diabetes. Also, gestational diabetes is divided into two different classes:
- Class A1: A healthy diet and regular exercise can manage the blood sugar levels
- Class A2: These women need to take insulin or other required medications to manage their blood sugar levels
Gestational Diabetes Symptoms
The symptoms of gestational diabetes are similar to that of other types of diabetes. Frequent urination, feeling thirsty, and excessive hunger are the common signs of gestational diabetes.
Gestational Diabetes Causes
- We know that the pancreas releases insulin so that the glucose can reach every cell in the body, which is then used as energy.
- However, during pregnancy, the placenta also releases hormones that cause glucose buildup in the body.
- Ideally, the pancreas releases a sufficient amount of insulin to move this extra glucose built inside.
- But, if the pancreas fails to do so, the blood sugar level will rise, leading to gestational diabetes.
Watch the below video for a quick understanding of what is gestation video:
Chapter 8: Insulin Resistance
We know that to maintain healthy levels of blood sugar in the body, the pancreas releases insulin required to move the glucose to the blood cells, which is then used as energy.
When we have an unhealthy lifestyle like eating a high carbohydrate diet, are physically inactive coupled with inadequate sleep and increased stress levels, this can all lead to excess carbohydrates to be stored as fats in our body. The fat layer will go on to cause Insulin Resistance.
When insulin resistance develops in the body, the amount of insulin released will not be sufficient to maintain blood sugar levels. This means that the pancreas needs to release more insulin to have the same effect as before.
During the initial days of insulin resistance, the blood sugar levels seem normal. But, the pancreas is producing way more insulin than before and reaches its maximum ability to do so. This leads to an elevation in fasting blood sugar. Elevated fasting blood sugar, known as impaired fasting glucose, is the first sign of insulin resistance.
Insulin Resistance Symptoms
There are no fixed symptoms of insulin resistance. The only way to find out is through a blood test. However, the following can be considered as the signs of insulin resistance:
- Having fasting glucose of more than 100 mg/dL
- Fasting triglyceride is more than 150 mg/dL
- When the waistline is more than 40 inches in men and 35 inches in women
- Skin pigmentation around the neck, armpits, groin regions: Acanthosis nigricans
- Hunger pangs
Insulin Resistance Causes
- Inactive lifestyle
- Consuming more junk foods
- Medications such as steroids
- Not getting enough sleep
You are a Type 2 diabetic person and not sure what to include in your daily diet, watch the below video to understand more:
Chapter 9: Genes and Family History
Genes and family history play a significant role in the development of a new baby. The offspring will carry a lot of traits from their parents, grandparents, and close relatives. Similarly, there are a few diseases that can be passed on genetically.
However, the inheritance of Type 1 diabetes is unknown, but that does not mean that the genes are not passed down through generations. Families with a higher incidence of autoimmune disorders could pass on genes to their children, predisposing them to Type 1 diabetes.
There are times when diabetes and other health conditions such as obesity and high blood pressure might run in the family, but the tests can only reveal if the person is at risk of getting diabetes. When it comes to Type 2 diabetes, people belonging to American Indian, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Latino or Hispanic, or Pacific Islander descents are at higher risk of developing it. Other causes are unhealthy eating habits and inactive lifestyles. Therefore, it is hard to say if Type 2 diabetes developed because of genes or lifestyle choices. It is usually a combination of both.
Chapter 10: Risk Factors
Risk Factors for Type 1 Diabetes
- Family history: The chances of developing Type 1 diabetes are more when a parent or a sibling has it.
- Age: Type 1 diabetes is considered the most common chronic condition in children and young adults. Children below 14 years are at higher chances of getting it.
- Genetics: Particular genes are responsible for developing Type 1 diabetes-like HLA-DQA1, HLA-DQB1, and HLA-DRB1 genes.
Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes
Unlike Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes can be delayed or prevented by
- Maintaining an ideal weight
- Having a low carbohydrate diet
- Doing 30-45 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise
- Sleeping for 6-7 hours a day
- Controlling stress and cholesterol levels
But, there are a few non-modifiable risk factors associated with Type 2 diabetes. They are
- Family history: Any parent or a close relative with diabetes can increase your risk of developing diabetes.
- Ethnic background: Studies show that if you are of African-American, Asian-American, or Pacific-Islander descent, the chances of developing it are high.
- Age: Being prediabetic can significantly increase your risk of developing diabetes.
- Gestational diabetes: If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes during pregnancy, again, you are at risk of developing diabetes.
Risk Factors for Prediabetes
- Family history
- Physical inactivity
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Lack of sleep
Risk Factors for Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes can develop in pregnant women who are not diagnosed with diabetes before. Studies show that it goes away after the birth of the baby. However, in future pregnancies, it can return.
Like other types of diabetes, the risk factors for gestational diabetes are:
- Family history
- Unhealthy diet
- Having medical complications such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart diseases
Chapter 11: Exercise and Diet
Being physically active 3 to 4 days a week coupled with a balanced diet can prevent many health problems. Also, exercise and diet can help reverse prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes. It also reduces the likelihood of developing gestational diabetes.
How Exercise Improves Insulin Sensitivity
Exercising regularly 3 to 4 times a week helps reduce blood sugar levels and manage prediabetic and Type 2 diabetes conditions.
- Using excess glucose: Exercising regularly triggers glucose absorption from the bloodstream into the working muscles, which helps maintain sugar levels. That’s why doctors recommend walking after meals.
- Building muscle: As the muscle mass increases, the need for glucose increases, thereby lowering the blood sugar levels.
- Maintaining weight: Being obese is one primary reason to develop several diseases. Regularly working out helps in maintaining ideal body weight and improves metabolism.
- Reducing visceral fat: Having visceral fat, also known as abdominal fat, makes your body insulin resistant. This fat also stores hormones and chemicals that make it harder for the body to utilize insulin. But regular exercises help in reducing this unwanted fat.
- Build nerve function: Studies showed that when diabetic people incorporated exercise in their daily routine for ten weeks, they had reduced pains related to diabetes and neuropathy. The nerve function had improved, and the safety from injuries had also reduced.
Learn more about the benefits of exercise for diabetes and the impacts of different types of exercise.
Along with an active lifestyle, controlling what you consume and how much you consume can help reduce blood sugar levels. Here are a few tips and tricks that you can follow:
- Make vegetables and fruits your friends: Vegetables have natural fibre content, and the sugar present in fruits is known as fructose which is naturally found in them. Having low-carb vegetables and some spices can make it more appealing and delicious. Replacing fruit juice with whole fruit has more benefits as no artificial sweeteners are added. Restrict fruit intake by not overindulging and sticking to one fruit or less per day.
- Nuts and seeds: These come with natural proteins, fiber, unsaturated fats, antioxidants, and various minerals such as potassium and magnesium.
- Including green leafy vegetables: The carbohydrate count in green leafy vegetables is low, and the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are high. Therefore, greens can be a replacement for starchy carbs.
- Avoid foods high in sugar: Fried food, sugary drinks, and desserts have zero nutrient value and only increase blood sugar levels.
- Grains: All grains are a source of carbohydrates. Practice portion control and restrict carbohydrates to less than 30% of your diet. Include whole grains in your diet. Replace white with brown rice, mix wheat with jowar and bajra.
Learn more about a healthy diet plan for managing blood sugar levels.
Chapter 12: Prevention
Prevention or delaying of diabetes becomes easy if you are at risk of developing it. Food habits and lifestyle changes need to be made most of the time. These changes also lower your chances of getting health disorders.
- Losing weight: Weight control plays a vital role in preventing diabetes. Having a normal BMI is not enough; the fat percentage in the body should be less; this can be checked using a body composition analyzer. So don’t just focus on weight loss; focus on body fat reduction. Studies have shown that losing 10-15 kgs of weight when overweight or obese can reverse prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes.
- Having a balanced diet: This means that you can continue to have your favorite cheat meal, but you should be aware of portion control. Having whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds in your everyday diet can delay diabetes.
- Be regular with your workouts: You don’t necessarily have to go to the gym to lose weight. A simple 30-45 minutes walk or any other moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, or just anything that fills you with joy and helps you move, should be sufficient. Having 3 to 4 active days is important in a week.
- Quit smoking: Though smoking does not have a direct causal link to diabetes, smoking can cause damage to blood vessels making people with diabetes more prone to complications.
- Seek help from doctors: Any time you feel any of the symptoms related to diabetes, please seek help from doctors.
Understand how diabetes and obesity are related and how to prevent them.
Chapter 13: Treatment and Management
Type 1 Diabetes Treatment
- Insulin: Lifelong insulin therapy is required for Type 1 diabetes. Insulin injections, insulin pens, and insulin pumps are the three different ways to take their daily insulin dose. Depending on how comfortable a person is, any of these can be used. All three methods have their advantages and disadvantages.
- Artificial pancreas: If you are 14 years or above, you can use an artificial pancreas. The implanted pancreas will be linked to a continuous glucose monitor to check the blood sugar level every five minutes, and depending on this reading, insulin will be released automatically.
- Other medications: As diabetes is usually also associated with other comorbidities like hypertension or raised cholesterol levels, doctors very often prescribe cholesterol-lowering drugs and antihypertensives if the need arises.
Type 2 Diabetes Treatment
Type 2 diabetes can be managed and reversed depending on blood sugar levels. This can be done with the help of an injection, pen, or pump. Suppose your body is not responding to the insulin produced by the pancreas; you may be asked to take insulin externally if oral medicines are not controlling blood sugar levels. Apart from this, a healthy and active lifestyle is the only way to treat and reverse Type 2 diabetes.
Prediabetes and Gestational Diabetes Treatment
Again, the only way to reverse these two diabetes types is by adopting a healthy lifestyle and clean eating habits.
Here is an easy explanation of what is an insulin pen and how to use it:
Chapter 14: Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How does COVID-19 affect a person with diabetes?
A. People with diabetes are at a higher risk of suffering severely from COVID-19 as the complications and symptoms associated with the virus in such people get severe. For instance, the inflammation in the body of a diabetic person is more, and this gets worse due to COVID.
Q. How does diabetes affect your heart, eyes, feet, nerves, and kidneys?
A. It is a matter of concern when your diabetes is not well controlled. The small and large blood vessels get affected due to uncontrolled sugar levels in the body.
- In the heart, the large blood vessels get blocked because of the inflammation and damage to blood vessels caused by high blood sugars, which causes an increased propensity of clot formation.
- The smaller blood vessels are affected in the eyes, leading to vision problems or blindness.
- There are two ways high blood sugar can be problematic in the feet. First is when the nerves leading to feet can get affected, resulting in no sensation of pain or other problems in the feet. The second is when the blood circulation gets affected. When there is poor blood circulation, any injury to the feet takes a longer time than usual to heal. This may also end in gangrene and amputation.
- When the nerves get affected by the high blood sugar, the amount of oxygen reaching the nerves reduces, and therefore, the signals related to pain will be stopped.
- When the blood vessels in the kidney become narrow because of high blood sugar, the waste removal from the body reduces as the path is clogged. This results in kidney malfunctioning and may result in kidney failure.
Q. How does diabetes lead to amputation?
A. In some diabetic patients, the blood sugar levels are so high that they may suffer from peripheral artery disease (PAD), which causes narrowing of blood vessels and reduction in the blood flow to legs and feet. This condition may also result in nerve damage known as peripheral neuropathy. This is a major concern because patients will not feel any pain in their legs or feet. Any wounds or cuts on the feet will go unnoticed because of peripheral neuropathy. Increased pressure on such areas will result in infection, and because of less blood flow, the wounds will also take longer to heal. The existing infection may spread to the bone as the tissue is damaged. To stop the further spread of the infection, amputation becomes necessary.
Q. Can diabetes cause blindness?
A. If proper care is taken during the initial days of diabetes, then it will not cause blindness. However, if the blood sugar levels are not under control, it may damage the eye’s retina, leading to blindness. Therefore, having annual eye screening is vital for diabetic patients.
Q. Can diabetes cause hearing loss?
A. We know that nerve damage is a possible concern when diabetic. High blood sugar levels damage the inner ear’s small blood vessels and nerves, while low blood sugar levels damage the nerve signals between the inner ear and the brain. Therefore, any nerve damage in the ear due to diabetes can cause hearing loss. Therefore, we can say that diabetes can also cause hearing loss if the nerves in the ears are damaged.
Q. Can diabetes cause headaches or dizziness?
A. Yes, diabetes can cause headaches and dizziness. At the same time, dizziness may be due to dehydration caused by high blood sugar (due to frequent urination). When the blood sugar is too low, it is known as hypoglycemia which blocks the glucose from reaching the brain, and this causes frequent headaches. Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar can also trigger headaches, dizziness, and other neurological symptoms.
Q. Can diabetes cause hair loss?
A. Since diabetes is a chronic condition, it can affect a person’s body differently. In some cases, diabetes can cause hair loss or hair thinning as the blood vessels that carry oxygen to the hair follicles are damaged. The primary reason for this hair loss is uncontrolled blood sugar levels and physical stress, and hormonal imbalances.
Q. What types of diabetes require insulin?
A. People with type 1 diabetes undoubtedly require insulin as their bodies cannot make it on their own. In comparison, Type 2 diabetics require insulin depending on the severity and the progress of their blood sugar levels.
Q. Can you be born with diabetes? Is it genetic?
A. A baby born with diabetes is known as neonatal diabetes, and it’s caused due to genetics.
Type 1 diabetes is usually associated with a strong family history. However, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are genetically linked, and genes are passed down from mother and father. Type 2 diabetes can be due to bad lifestyle choices and genes inherited from parents, but primarily influenced by environmental factors rather than a genetic predisposition.
Q. What is diabetic ketoacidosis?
A. Diabetic ketoacidosis, also known as DKA, is a serious complication of diabetes that develops in the body when the blood sugar is high for too long. This happens when there is not enough insulin in the body which is a major source of energy to the tissues and muscles. When there isn’t sufficient insulin, the body begins to break down the fat, resulting in the buildup of acids in the bloodstream known as ketones. This life-threatening condition can be prevented by monitoring blood sugar levels and also by taking required doses of insulin.
Q. What is a hyperglycemic hyperosmolar nonketotic syndrome (HHNS)?
A. Hyperglycemic hyperosmolar nonketotic syndrome (HHNS) is also known as Hyperosmolar Hyperglycaemic State (HHS). It is a dangerous condition developed in people with Type 2 diabetes due to an infection or illness.
HHNS is developed when the glucose levels surge, leading to severe dehydration. When the glucose levels are increased, the blood becomes thicker, and therefore, the urge to urinate increases as the body is trying to get rid of it. The frequent urination results in life-threatening dehydration, and therefore, it becomes essential to replenish the lost fluid. If failed to do so, it may result in seizure, coma, or worst case, death. Therefore, this condition is also known as diabetic coma.
Q. What does it mean if test results show I have protein in my urine?
A. Protein is one of the essential substances for the proper functioning of the body. Protein is usually found in the blood, and if it is also found in the urine, it indicates that there are problems related to the kidney. A small amount of protein in urine is acceptable but not a significant amount.
However, if you have diabetes and are asked to get a urine test specifically for protein, it is only to detect the signs of early diabetic kidney damage signs.
Q. How do I check my blood glucose levels? Why is this important?
A. You can check your blood glucose levels with the help of either a portable electronic device known as a glucometer or a continuous glucose monitor (CGM).
It is essential to check the blood glucose levels because it helps in:
- Monitoring the effects of medications on the blood sugar levels
- Identifying the levels of blood sugar
- Understanding how the other factors such as illness or stress are affecting the levels of blood sugar
Q. What is continuous glucose monitoring?
A. Continuous glucose monitoring is a way to check your blood glucose levels at any time of the day. A tiny sensor will be inserted under your skin, either on your belly or the arm. The sensor measures the interstitial glucose levels every few minutes, and the readings get displayed on the monitor.
Q. What should my blood glucose level be?
A. A fasting blood glucose level of less than 100 mg/dl and 2 hours of postprandial sugar of less than 140 mg/dL is normal. After two hours, if the reading is more than 200 mg/dL, it indicates diabetes. And if the reading is between 140 and 199 mg/dL, it indicates prediabetes. If fasting blood glucose level is between 100 – 125 mg/dl, is prediabetes or impaired fasting glucose.
Q. What happens if my blood glucose level is low?
A. If your blood glucose level is low, you may experience lightheadedness, dizziness, weakness, shivering, palpitations, even loss of consciousness and fits.
Q. What happens if my blood glucose level is high?
A. A high blood glucose level is known as hyperglycemia. This happens when there is a lack of insulin in the body. Fatigue, nausea, rapid heartbeat, vision problems, and excessive hunger and thirst are common symptoms.
Q. What oral medications are approved to treat diabetes?
A. Oral medications for diabetes are prescribed for people whose bodies still produce some insulin. The approved oral medications to treat diabetes are:
- Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors
- Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors
- Sodium-glucose transporter (SGLT) 2 inhibitors
- Dopamine agonist
However, please consult your doctor before consuming any of the above medications.
Q. What are insulin medications approved to treat diabetes?
A. Insulin medications that are approved to treat Type 1 diabetes are:
- Regular or Short-acting insulin
- Rapid-acting insulin
- Intermediate-acting insulin
- Long-acting insulin
- Pre-mixed insulin
- Amylinomimetic drug
Insulin medications that are approved to treat Type 2 diabetes are:
- Long-acting insulin
- Ultra long-acting insulin
- Intermediate-acting insulin
- Pre-mixed insulin
- Rapid and short-acting insulin
However, please consult your doctor before consuming any of the above medications.
Q. How is insulin taken? How many different ways are there to take insulin?
A. There are four different ways to take insulin, and they are:
- With the help of a syringe: Your doctor will guide you on how much insulin should be injected.
- Using an insulin pen: You can either use cartridges or prefilled pens to get your daily insulin shots.
- With the help of an insulin pump: An insulin pump is similar to a small cell phone with a thin plastic tube that should be placed under the fatty layer of the skin.
- Insulin inhaler: This is an oral inhaler used at the beginning of meals.
Q. Are there other treatment options for diabetes?
A. In most cases, medications and lifestyle changes are sufficient to control blood sugar levels in the body, especially Type 2 diabetes. However, there are times when these two are insufficient, and that’s when other treatments such as bariatric surgery, also known as weight-loss surgery or metabolic surgery, and artificial pancreas are used.
Q. Can prediabetes, Type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes be prevented?
A. Prediabetes is when the blood sugar levels are higher than average. Type 2 diabetes is a condition where the pancreas is not producing sufficient insulin, and there is insulin resistance. Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy.
Prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes can be prevented and delayed by losing weight and having a balanced diet. Gestational diabetes cannot be prevented. However, certain precautionary steps can be incorporated to reduce the risk of this type of diabetes.
Q. Can the long-term complications of diabetes be prevented?
A. Yes, the long-term complications of diabetes can be prevented by having a balanced diet, regular exercises, and taking certain medications (under the supervision of your doctor).
Q. What should I expect if I have been diagnosed with diabetes?
A. If you are diagnosed with diabetes, the first thing would be not to freak out about it and talk to your doctor about the possible lifestyle changes that you need to make. Also, be regular with your medications and tests.