Defects in secretion or action of insulin lead to high blood sugar levels. The defects caused by high sugar levels cause a group of metabolic diseases called diabetes mellitus also known as diabetes. In ancient days, diabetes was referred to as a disease associated with ‘sweet urine and excess muscle loss. The term ‘sweet urine’ was used because glucose can spill into the urine due to increased levels of glucose (hyperglycemia).
Insulin controls the levels of blood glucose and is produced by the pancreas and the basic function of insulin is to lower these levels. On eating food, the blood glucose level increases which are controlled by insulin secreted from the pancreas. Insulin causes the uptake of glucose into body cells. When the insulin is not sufficient or the response is slow it causes hyperglycemia. Although diabetes is a treatable and controllable disease it is chronic meaning that it will last for a lifetime.
Inability to make proper use of the insulin produced to lower the body's blood sugar level causes diabetes. The types of diabetes include
- Type 2 diabetes (non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset diabetes)
Amongst all the people that get diagnosed with diabetes, most of them have type 2 diabetes. It can be due to excess weight or lack of physical activity. Symptoms of this are often similar but less noticeable than type 1. Because of this, the condition is diagnosed many years later than when it started. Until recent times, it was only seen in adults but now even children are increasingly being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
- Type 1 diabetes (insulin-dependent, juvenile or childhood-onset)
Both the cause and prevention of type 1 diabetes remain unknown. Deficiency in the production of insulin is responsible for this type. Due to this, daily injection of insulin is necessary. Symptoms of type 1 include- fatigue, change in vision, losing weight, frequent hunger, feeling thirst (polydipsia) and excess excretion of urine (polyuria).
- Gestational diabetes
When there is a clear increase in the patient's blood sugar level but it doesn’t meet the criteria for the diagnosis of diabetes it is diagnosed as gestational diabetes. It occurs only in women who are pregnant. Being diagnosed during pregnancy can cause complications throughout and during childbirth. Both the woman and her child are prone to type 2 diabetes in future. Rather than the symptoms, gestational diabetes is diagnosed during prenatal screening.
- Impaired fasting glycaemia or impaired glucose tolerance (Prediabetes)
The in-between stages of transition from normal to the diabetic stage are known as impaired fasting glycaemia (IFG) and impaired glucose tolerance (IGT). Medicines can prevent prediabetes. Often, the patients are prone to a risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
There are symptoms common between both type 1 and type 2. They are as follows-
- Increase in hunger
- Frequent feeling of being thirsty
- Vision becomes blurry
- Increased urination
- Feeling tired
Type 1 diabetic patients may also experience sudden loss in weight. Similarly, type 2 diabetic patients can have sores that heal very slowly and frequent infections because of increased glucose levels that slow the process of healing.
Few of the symptoms can be gender-specific for diabetes in addition to the common symptoms.
Symptoms in men
- Decrease in sex drive
- Poor muscle strength
- Erectile dysfunction (ED)
Symptoms in women
- Dry and itchy skin
- Yeast infections
- Urinary tract infections
Symptoms of Gestational diabetes are as follows-
A routine blood sugar test or oral glucose tolerance test is often performed between the 24th-28th week of pregnancy. Having no symptoms, gestational type is seen in women who are during this stage of pregnancy. Very rarely, some women may have increased thirst or urination.
- What causes type 1 diabetes?
The only known fact about this type is that your immune system (designed to fight viruses and infections) attacks the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas. Leaving you with very little or zero insulin, type 1 diabetes, causes sugar to build up in the bloodstream rather than being transported to cells. However, the very cause of type 1 is unknown. Weight is not considered as a factor for this type. It is said to be a result of genetic susceptibility and environmental factors.
- What causes type 2 diabetes?
There is often resistance from cells to the action of insulin and the pancreas fail to produce the required insulin to overcome this resistance. This is seen in both prediabetes (which can evolve into type 2 diabetes) and type 2 diabetes. Same as type 1, sugar builds in the bloodstream instead of going into cells where it is needed. Here as well the exact cause remains unclear. However, along with genetic and environmental factors, being overweight is a strong factor for developing this type.
- What causes gestational diabetes?
A hormone produced by the placenta during pregnancy causes the cells to resist the action of insulin. Under normal conditions, the pancreas increases the production of insulin to overcome but sometimes it can fail to do so. This then leads to glucose building up in your bloodstream and very little glucose is transported to the cells.
There are various test available for diagnosis of diabetes (Type 1, type 2 and gestational) as follows-
Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes requires the following tests-
- A1C0- Glycated Hemoglobin test
Usually, there is a percentage of blood sugar level associated with haemoglobin, that is measured. This test doesn’t require fasting. But an average blood sugar level of 2-3 months is acquired. Higher sugar levels will result in more haemoglobin with sugar attached to it.
Levels of A1C are as below-
Diabetes- 6.5% or higher in more than two tests
Prediabetes- Between 5.7-6.4%
Normal- Below 5.7%
Under circumstances where no consistent results are obtained from A1C, the test being unavailable or patient being unfit for A1C (because of pregnancy or unusual haemoglobin form) following tests are available-
- Random Blood sugar test
If the results of a blood sample taken at any random time are 200 milligrams per deciliter, 11.1 millimoles per litre or higher then the patient has diabetes.
- Fasting Blood sugar test
The patient is supposed to fast overnight. Post-fasting a test is done.
Normal- less than 100 mg/dL
Prediabetes- 100-125 mg/dL
Diabetes- Higher than 126 mg/dL on two different tests.
- Glucose tolerance test (Oral test)
A test is taken after overnight fasting to check for blood sugar level. Then a sugary liquid is to be drunk by the patient and periodic tests are conducted over the next 2 hours.
Normal- 140 mg/dL
Prediabetes- 140-199 mg/dL
Diabetes- 200 mg/dL or higher
If you have type 1 diabetes, a urine test is also likely to check byproducts and the presence of immune system cells that are destructive called autoantibodies.
Tests for Gestational Diabetes
Doctors are likely to evaluate the risks at the early stages of pregnancy if-
- You are at higher risk of gestational diabetes
Have previously had diabetes during pregnancy, you are obese or family history etc
- You are at average risk of gestational diabetes
During the second trimester (24-28 weeks)
Following are the names of screening tests available-
- Initial glucose challenge test
- Follow-up glucose tolerance test
Many people diagnosed with diabetes each year seek conventional medicines. Having no cure, taking medicines or insulin every day remain the only options that conventional treatment has to offer. But this is more like a replacement therapy that leaves you with lifetime diabetes and daily doses of insulin. Resulting in both expensive and troublesome experiences.
Here homoeopathy can be of great help. Homoeopathic medicines promote the pancreas for producing adequate insulin. The principle of homoeopathy is that therapeutic strength increases on dilution. So natural substances are diluted so that the remedy obtained has only a small amount of substance.
They are administered as-
- Sugar Pellets
Homoeopathy aims at maintaining the patients' blood glucose level at normal as much as possible. Since diabetes is a lifestyle disorder, lifestyle changes are necessary to control it. Homoeopathy is likely to offer you some great suggestions related to it such as regular exercise, exclusion of sweets, and having fixed times for meals.