Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects the ability of the body to produce energy from food. This is because diabetes affects the ability of the body to produce adequate insulin, as a result of which most of the glucose remains in the bloodstream, and is not utilised for energy generation.
Diabetes is of three types, namely, type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. Type 1 diabetes occurs due to an autoimmune reaction which affects the ability of the body to produce insulin, type 2 diabetes occurs when the body is unable to use insulin well, resulting in high blood glucose levels, and gestational diabetes can occur in pregnant women who never had diabetes. About 90 to 95 per cent of diabetics have type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes can be prevented if one identifies the warning signs and takes action on time.
Warning signs of type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes usually affects children and young adults, and five to 10 per cent of diabetics suffer from this type. “In some cases, type 1 diabetes can occur in older people as well,” Dr Harish Kumar, Clinical Professor and Head, Centre for Endocrinology and Diabetes, Amrita Hospital, Kochi, told ABP Live.
“Usually, there is a sudden onset of type one diabetes. The patient may be feeling unwell only for about two to three weeks, and then run up to the diagnosis. Usually there will be some degree of weight loss, increased thirst, increased appetite, general tiredness and so on. So, the patient must have been feeling sick for about two to three weeks prior to the blood sugar levels having risen,” he added.
Warning signs of type 1 diabetes inchildren are weight loss, increased thirst and urination. “The patient develops something called ketones in their blood, that comes out through the urine. This condition is called ‘Diabetic ketoacidosis’. This is common in type 1 diabetes. These children are usually lean and thin, and generally do not have a family history of diabetes. There is a very quick onset of type 1 diabetes,” Dr Dheeraj Kapoor, Chief, Endocrinology, Artemis Hospital, Gurugram, told ABP Live.
“Type 1 diabetes symptoms that should get the bell ringing are increased thirst, increased urination, increased appetite and on top of that, weight loss. These are the four cardinal signs,” Dr Kapoor added.
Warning signs of type 2 diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes is generally very silent, Dr Kumar said. The vast majority of patients who are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes find out that they have the condition when they undergo a blood test, because the symptoms are silent.
“However, patients can experience a number of symptoms such as weight loss, feeling tired, increased urination, and respiratory infection or a urinary tract infection. Various symptoms like these can be present in a number of patients, but the majority of patients are asymptomatic,” Dr Kumar added.
Patients with type 2 diabetes may have had high blood sugar levels for some months or even years prior to the diagnosis. So, type 2 diabetes, unlike type 1, is a smouldering kind of diabetes which shows no warning signs,” Dr Kumar said.
“Almost every Indian is prone to diabetes, but those who have a family history of diabetes, are obese, have a bulging belly, have had PCOS or pregnancy-induced diabetes are at much higher risk of having diabetes as compared to others,” Dr Kapoor said.
How to distinguish between the warning signs of type 1 and type 2 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes occurs suddenly. The patient will be significantly ill, experience sudden weight less, feel exhausted, and could suffer from infections, Dr Kumar said.
“Type 2 diabetes is a quiet disease. Patients often unexpectedly find out that they have diabetes. The symptoms of type two diabetes are much milder. These patients may experience some degree of tiredness, weight loss, and increased thirst, but not like those in type one diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is dramatic in its presentation and short in its duration,” Dr Kumar added.
Risk factors for type 1 diabetes
There are no particular risk factors for type 1 diabetes. It might be triggered by a viral infection, Dr Kumar said.
“Type 1 diabetes can sometimes be idiopathic, which means that there is no particular cause, and it happens out of the blue. So, there is no real risk factor for type 1 diabetes,” Dr Kumar added.
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes has clear-cut risk factors. “If one has a family history of diabetes or obesity, then they are quite likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Also, if one leads a very sedentary lifestyle, puts on weight, and has associated conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and increased body weight, they are likely to develop type 2 diabetes. So, there are people who live in what we call a diabetogenic environment. This is an environment where an individual’s propensity to develop diabetes comes out,” Dr Kumar explained.
“If one eats a lot of junk food, and high-calorie food which they should not be consuming, and leads a very sedentary life and has put on weight, they are likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes. If one has a family history of type 2 diabetes, then they are quite likely to develop the condition. On the other hand, if the same individual, despite having a family history of type 2 diabetes, takes care of his diet, exercises regularly, and ensures he or she does not put on weight, then the person can actually prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. So, these are all clear-cut risk factors,” Dr Kumar added.
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