How to detect diabetes in time and prevent diabetesDiabetes is a metabolic disease affecting an increasing number of people worldwide. B.Z. explains the causes, symptoms and treatments of this widespread disease on World Diabetes Day.
Diabetes mellitus is also commonly referred to as diabetes, as the umbrella term stands for various metabolic disorders that all lead to elevated blood sugar levels. This is usually either due to a reduced effect of the hormone insulin or a deficiency of the same.
About 7.2 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 79 in Germany suffer from diabetes mellitus. Most of them (about 90-95%) have type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes type 1 and type 2 – what's the difference??
A common distinction is made between type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Type 1 often begins in childhood and adolescence and is caused by insulin deficiency. In this form of diabetes, the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas are attacked by the body's own immune system, so that over the years they produce little or no insulin at all. Since this type of diabetes cannot yet be cured, those affected must inject themselves with insulin for the rest of their lives.
Type 2 diabetes used to be called "adult-onset diabetes" because it occurred more frequently at advanced ages. In the meantime, however, more and more adolescents and young adults are also falling ill with it. The cause is usually lack of exercise and obesity as well as a hereditary predisposition. On the one hand, this leads to a reduced sensitivity of the body's cells to insulin, and on the other hand to an "exhaustion" of the insulin-producing cells as a result of years of overproduction.
How to recognize the symptoms of diabetes?
The permanently elevated blood glucose level in both types of diabetes without treatment is not always immediately recognizable, but can lead to the following symptoms:
– Strong feeling of thirst – Nausea – Dizziness – Frequent urination – Fatigue and lack of drive
What are the consequences of diabetes??
The elevated blood glucose levels in type 1 diabetes lead to irreversible sequelae if not treated adequately. In this case, damage occurs to the smallest vessels in the retina or in the kidney, which can lead to blindness and kidney failure. Damage to the nerves is also a common consequence, with reduced sense of touch and impaired pain and temperature perception.
Diabetes patients need to check their blood glucose levels regularly (Photo: picture alliance / imageBROKER / Bernhard Schmerl)
With type 2 diabetes, the risk of heart attacks and strokes increases. Often there are also circulatory problems in the arms and feet. In conjunction with nerve damage, a so-called "diabetic foot" then frequently occurs. In this case, injuries to the foot are hardly noticed due to the nerve damage, so that a prere point can easily turn into a wound that heals only with difficulty due to the reduced blood circulation. In addition, it can lead to a regression of the foot muscles. Come to a deformation of the foot.
What therapies are available for diabetes?
Since type 1 diabetes cannot be cured, treatment mainly consists of consistent daily monitoring of blood glucose levels and regular insulin administration. The aim is on the one hand to keep the blood glucose level at a level that is not too high and not too low, and on the other hand to avoid long-term consequences of diabetes.
In addition to the amount of insulin supplied, individual factors such as diet, physical activity, illnesses, medications and hormonal changes, as well as the time of day, also play a role in the level of blood sugar. Diabetes type 1 patients therefore develop an exact to their body. Insulin therapy adapted to your daily habits.
Insulin injections using an insulin pen can regulate blood glucose levels (KEYSTONE/Christian Beutler)
The treatment of type 2 diabetes varies from patient to patient, as factors such as physical condition, age, diseases and life situations play a role. In some cases, more exercise, a healthier diet and weight loss can help lower blood glucose levels and improve the effect of insulin.
In cases of very severe obesity, surgery, such as stomach reduction, may also be considered. In other cases, taking medication helps with the condition. Insulin injections or taking hormone-like agents (incretin mimetics) to stimulate the body's own insulin production are also treatment options.
In both forms of diabetes, it may also be advisable to take medications that reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
How is diabetes diagnosed?
To detect diabetes, blood glucose levels are measured by blood sampling before the first food intake and throughout the day. In addition, the so-called HbA1c value is measured, which shows the level of blood sugar in the last two to three months.
Type 2 diabetes is usually detected during a routine blood or urine test that reveals elevated blood glucose levels.
How to prevent diabetes?
The onset of type 2 diabetes can be delayed by several years with a healthy lifestyle – a balanced diet, plenty of exercise and a favorable body weight. It is not yet clear whether diabetes can be completely prevented with these methods.
Where can I get information about diabetes?
The first point of contact for diabetes is always the doctor. There is also information and help available on the Internet, for example from the German Diabetes Center and the Diabetes Information Service.