Centres of Excellence

Diabetes Overview




·         Diabetes Overview

·         Types of Diabetes

·         Diabetes Symptoms

·         Diabetes Complications

·         Diabetes Prevention

·         Diabetic Nutrition

·         Fitness & Exercises in Diabetes


Diabetes Overview

Whether you’ve been newly diagnosed, have been fighting against type 1 or type 2 diabetes for a while, or are helping a loved one, you’ve come to the right place. This is the start of gaining a deeper understanding of how you can live a healthier life—with all the tools, health tips, and food ideas you need. Wherever you’re at with your diabetes, know that you have options and that you don’t have to be held back. You can still live your best life. All you have to do is take action and stick with it.


Types of Diabetes

Understanding prediabetes

When it comes to prediabetes, there are no clear symptoms—so you may have it and not know it. Here’s why that’s important: before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have prediabetes—blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. You may have some of the symptoms of diabetes or even some of the complications.

Regardless, check with your doctor and get tested. If you discover that you do have prediabetes, remember that it doesn’t mean you’ll develop type 2, particularly if you follow a treatment plan and a diet and exercise routine. Even small changes can have a huge impact on managing diabetes or preventing it all together—so get to a doctor today and get tested.


Understanding Type 1 Diabetes:

In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. The body breaks down the carbohydrates you eat into blood sugar (blood glucose) that it uses for energy—and insulin is a hormone that the body needs to get glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body. With the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, everyone can learn to manage their condition and live long, healthy lives.

Remember: this is a condition that can be managed. By living a healthy lifestyle filled with exercise and proper diet, you can live a normal life and do everything you set out to do.


Understanding Type 2 Diabetes:

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes—and it means that your body doesn’t use insulin properly. And while some people can control their blood sugar levels with healthy eating and exercise, others may need medication or insulin to help manage it. Regardless, you have options—and we're here with the tools, resources, and support you need.

A key part of managing type 2 diabetes is maintaining a healthy diet. You need to eat something sustainable that helps you feel better and still makes you feel happy and fed. Remember, it’s a process. Work to find helpful tips and diet plans that best suit your lifestyle—and how you can make your nutritional intake work the hardest for you.

Fitness is another key to managing type 2. And the good news, all you have to do is get moving. The key is to find activities you love and do them as often as you can. No matter how fit you are, a little activity every day can help you put yourself in charge of your life.


Understanding Gestational Diabetes:

Gestational diabetes can be a scary diagnosis, but like other forms of diabetes, it’s one that you can manage. It doesn’t mean that you had diabetes before you conceived or that you will have diabetes after you give birth. It means that, by working with your doctor, you can have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. No matter what, know that you have all the support you need for both you and your baby to be at your best.

We don’t know what causes gestational diabetes, but we know that you are not alone. It happens to millions of women. We do know that the placenta supports the baby as it grows. Sometimes, these hormones also block the action of the mother’s insulin to her body and it causes a problem called insulin resistance. This insulin resistance makes it hard for the mother’s body to use insulin. And this means that she may need up to three times as much insulin to compensate. 

The key to treating it is to act quickly—as treatable as it is, gestational diabetes can hurt you and your baby. Work with your doctor to keep your blood sugar levels normal, through special meal plans and regular physical activity. Your treatment may also include daily blood sugar testing and insulin injections.

Understanding diabetes from other causes:

In addition to type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes, a small minority of people develop specific types of diabetes due to other causes. This includes: 

Monogenic diabetes syndromes, such as neonatal diabetes and maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY)

Diseases of the exocrine pancreas, such as cystic fibrosis and pancreatitis

Drug or chemical-induced diabetes, such as with glucocorticoid use, in the treatment of HIV/AIDS or after organ transplantation


Diabetes Symptoms

The following symptoms of diabetes are typical. However, some people with diabetes have symptoms so mild that they go unnoticed.

Common symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes:

  • Urinating often
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Feeling very hungry—even though you are eating
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • 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)

Early detection and treatment of diabetes can decrease the risk of developing the complications of diabetes. Although there are many similarities between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the cause of each is very different. And the treatment is usually quite different, too. Some people, especially adults who are newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, may have symptoms similar to type 2 diabetes and this overlap between types can be confusing.






Diabetes Complications

Even with the signs of diabetes showing up, many people may not realize the progress of diabetes in to its related complications.

Many people are living with undiagnosed diabetes due to lack of awareness, lack of availability of healthcare facilities, and having preexisting conditions that alarm the signs of diabetes.

Even diagnosed people who are on treatment may not completely adhere to the treatment. Poorly treated and untreated diabetes can lead to complications resulting in hospitalization.

Following are the conditions arising due to untreated and poor diabetic treatment.


1.       Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a disease of the eyes affecting the retina and caused due to diabetes. It is the leading cause of blindness, but it can be avoided by early detection and treatment of diabetes.

Untreated diabetes damages tiny blood vessels and capillaries in the eyes leading to leakage of blood from the blood vessels into the eye which results in macular edema (swelling).

Due to the damage to the blood vessels, there is inadequate supply of oxygen-rich blood to the thin light-sensitive tissues of the retina which reduces vision of a person with diabetic retinopathy. As the disease progresses, it leads to partial or complete blindness.

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

·      Blurred central vision.

·      Double vision and flashing lights in eye.

·      Blind spots or Floating spots around the eye.

·      Fluctuating vision.

·      Decreased vision and perception of depth.


2.       Diabetic Nephropathy

Diabetic nephropathy is a disease of the kidneys caused due to untreated and poor controlled diabetes. Diabetic nephropathy is one of the major cause for end-stage kidney disease but if treated on time it can be avoided.

Untreated Diabetes and Kidney Damage

Diabetes affects blood vessels and nerves of the entire body and when it affects the blood vessels of the kidneys, it leads to diabetic nephropathy. In people with untreated or poorly managed diabetes having also high blood pressure and high cholesterol, there is an increased risk of major vascular complications, and kidney failure.

People with untreated or poorly managed diabetes are highly prone to urinary and kidney infections which further aids up kidney damage. In people with diabetes having hypertension, it may damage glomeruli and basement membrane further leading to thickening of the tissues. In this stage, most people develop macro-albuminuria and later with progressive damage to the kidneys leads to end-stage kidney disease.

Diabetic Nephropathy Symptoms

·         High blood pressure

·         Leg/ankle swelling and cramps

·         Excessive urination during nighttime

·         Anemia & General weakness

·         Morning sickness, vomiting

·         Itching sensation

·         Proteinurea


3.       Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is one of the first sign of diabetes which is a resultant of damage to the nerves. It leads to complications like diabetic foot disease, which is a leading cause for foot amputations.

People who have poor control over their diabetes and have persistent high blood sugar levels have damage to their nerve fibers at the cellular level which leads to diabetic neuropathy. Depending upon the type of nerve fibers that are damaged, there can be different types of diabetic neuropathy such as peripheral neuropathy, focal neuropathy, autonomic neuropathy and proximal neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy can affect multiple organs of the body including the heart, sexual organs, digestive organs, etc.

Peripheral Neuropathy

Damage to the sensory and motor nerves due to diabetes is called peripheral neuropathy and mostly affects the extremities (arms, legs). Peripheral neuropathy can result in lack of reflexes, muscle weakness, and foot deformities. There is lack of sensation due to reduced blood supply to the nerves of the feet which makes it more prone to injuries, infections and ulcer which may even lead to amputation of the foot.


Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy

·      Numbness, tingling sensation in feet, legs, toes, fingers, and hands

·      Wasting of muscles of affected parts

·      Loss of sensation or oversensitive to touch

·      Pain and Cramping sensation


Autonomic Neuropathy

Autonomic Neuropathy is a condition which is caused as a result when involuntary nerves controlling the functions of the heart, digestive tract, blood vessels, sexual organs and others are affected by diabetes.

Symptoms of Autonomic Neuropathy

·      Excessive sweating, Feeling dizzy or fainting

·      Pain in the neck and back, arm, or stomachache

·      Nausea, vomiting, Lightheadedness

·      Alternating diarrhea and constipation

·      Bladder or fecal incontinence

·      Decreased sexual drive and erectile dysfunction or infections of vagina

·      Fluctuating blood pressure

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