It is a metabolic condition where the regulatory mechanism for sugar in your body is faulty, resulting in exessive levels of sugar in the blood stream.
There are 2 types : Diabetes type 1 and Diabetes type 2. This article will focus on type 2 diabetes - which forms the bulk of all diabetic cases.
The mechanisms of Diabetes
Insulin is released from the pancreas after a meal Insulin will convert the sugar present in the blood stream after a meal into storable form of carbohydrate in the liver and muscles.
In diabetes the insulin becomes ineffective or insufficient, resulting in excess sugar floating around in the blood stream.
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Rapid and unexplained weight loss
- Unexplained weakness and fatigue
- Blurring of vision
- Frequent infections
- See your doctor if you feel unwell or experience the said symptoms
- Do your yearly health screening to pick up pre-diabetes (which may be asymptomatic)
- Patients above the age of 40 should do their annual health screening.
For diabetes to be diagnosed:
- Fasting blood glucose level > 7 mmol/L on two separate tests
- Random blood glucose level > 11.1 mmol/L on two separate
- Oral glucose tolerant test > 11.1 mmol/L on two separate tests
If symptoms are present - one test is sufficient to achieve diagnosis
Uncontrolled Diabetes Complications
- Damage to the retina, cataract ( resulting in poor vision )
- Damage to the nerves : resulting in numbness of the hands and legs
- Damage to your blood vessels resulting in gradual blockage : fingers and toes gangrene, kidney failure resulting in dialysis
- Heart diseases and stroke
Diabetes treatment and management
1. Diet (what to eat)
- Reduce sugar intake, drink more plain water.
- Reduce size of all your meals by 20-30% for a start
- Introduce low GI food in replacement of white rice / white bread
- Increase vegetable and protein intake like fish and chicken
150 mintues of exercise per week which can comprise of cardio or resistance training.
Physical activities reduce blood pressure, sugar levels, increase efficiency of insulin activity and burn fat - all of which improves sugar levels and overall wellbeing.
3. Weight loss
Obesity increases the risk of getting diabetes by 80%
By eating healthy and exercising to curb obesity and keep it within the healthy range will minimise the risk of getting diabetes.
4. Diabetes Medication
Consult your family physician for recommended medications for diabetes treatment.
Being on medications does not mean you can ignore the lifestyle changes. They go hand in hand in improving sugar levels. In fact, there are cases where patients who successfully reduced the dependance on medication by modifying their diet and increasing their exercise.
By : Dr Chen Yiming
Family Physician, MBBS (Singapore), GDFM (NUS), GDFP Dermatology (NUS)