Understanding Diabetes

By ParkwayHealth 2021-10-21 16:37:35

The prevalence of diabetes has been increasing throughout the years, along with obesity. If you think you may have diabetes, always consult a doctor.


What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition where there is excess sugar, known as glucose, in the blood. This excess sugar thickens the blood, making it like syrup. This kind of elevated sugar will cause stickiness or blockages in both small and large blood vessels. This leads to increased risk of organ damage.

• Eyes – including blindness

• Nerves – including numbness of the feet and risk of injury

• Foot infection and various other infections

• Heart disease 

• Stroke and death


What is the problem? 

At the heart of it, the problem lies with a deficiency in insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, a leaf-like gland that sits behind the stomach. When we eat carbohydrates such as rice or pasta, our body breaks them down into their basic molecule, glucose, a sugar. 

The glucose level rises in the blood, signaling the pancreas to release insulin.

Insulin is the key to allowing glucose to enter the cells and be used as fuel. When there is too much glucose, it’s converted into fats and placed in long-term fuel storage.

In Type 1 diabetes, the patient has no insulin, absolute insulin deficiency. Insulin must be added to their body to survive.

In Type 2 diabetes, the issue is insulin resistance. With increasing obesity, there is a corresponding increase in the resistance to insulin. This increased resistance makes insulin less effective. In the early stages of Type 2 diabetes, oral medications can be used to great effect. 

However, as time and the disease progresses, the pancreas might not produce much insulin anymore. The patient might tip into absolute insulin deficiency where insulin has to be added to maintain good control of diabetes.



Diagnosing diabetes

The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention in 2017 said, 21.4% of diabetes patients were unaware they had diabetes.


Comprehensive and Customized Management

To manage diabetes is to manage all the consequences that arise, not just the glucose levels.

There are screening tests that detect if organs for diabetes patients have been affected. Tests should be done regularly.

There are millions of people who are suffering from diabetes, and no two are identical. Their disease is a contribution of both genes and environment, which is the resistance to insulin that arises from obesity.

With advancing technology, more drugs have been discovered to act on complementary aspects of diabetes. In addition to controlling the sugars, they may have additional benefits such as preserving the function of the pancreas as well as weight loss.

For the management of chronic diseases, drugs should go hand in hand with proper nutrition. Since the body cannot handle carbohydrates efficiently, it would be good to cut down on the percentage of “processed” carbohydrates in the diet to less than 20% of overall daily nutrition.


Dr PJ Chiang, Family Physician

Dr Chiang specializes in Family Medicine at ParkwayHealth in Suzhou.


Website: www.parkwaypantai.cn

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