Diabetes is a condition that affects one in eleven adults globally. It is a public health epidemic that heightens the risk of cardiac diseases, stroke, and may possibly lead to blindness, end-stage kidney diseases, amputation and liver problems.
While is it a chronic condition that requires lifestyle changes and strict discipline to manage it, endocrinologists along with a network of physicians and support staff work towards ensuring that those diagnosed with diabetes are able to lead a healthy life.
Diabetes is a disease of metabolism that limits the body’s capability to manage the glucose or sugar in the bloodstream. This condition is popularly referred to as blood sugar too.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus or commonly known as just diabetes is a combination of several conditions that primarily focus on the problems with insulin, a hormone, that is released by the pancreas, to help the body store and utilise the glucose and fat that one gets from that food that is consumed.
The following conditions lead to the development of diabetes:
• If the pancreas stops producing any insulin
• If the pancreas produces insulin is very limited quantities
• If the body is not able to follow the required response mechanisms to insulin which is a condition known as ‘insulin resistance’
Insulin is an important hormone and has a critical role to play in diabetes. The human body comprises of millions of cells that generate energy. In order to produce the energy, the cells require food in a simple form. The food and drink consumed by the body are processed and broken down into sugar or glucose. The sugar is then transported to the cells via the bloodstream which in turn is utilised to produce the energy that the body requires to be able to perform daily activities.
The quantity of sugar in the blood is precisely regulated by insulin which is the hormone released from the pancreas in limited amounts all the time. At the time that the amount of sugar in the bloodstream increases to a specific level, more and more insulin is released by the pancreas that then pushes the sugar into the cells. This results in the blood glucose levels experiencing a drop.
If the sugar levels in the blood are really on the lower end, the body automatically signals you to eat. This ensures that some glucose is released and subsequently stored in the liver. The body of those individuals diagnosed with diabetes either do not produce insulin or are insulin resistant. This eventually leads to increased levels of glucose circulating in the bloodstream. The condition is also known as high blood sugar.
Types of Diabetes
Diabetes may be categorised into different types including:
Type 1 diabetes which is a form of autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks and kills cells in the pancreas, where insulin is manufactured. The majority of individuals with type 1 diabetes produce no insulin and thus revert to insulin injections in order to regulate the blood sugar. Type 1 diabetes is common in people less than 20 years of age. However, it may develop at any age.
Type 2 diabetes is different from type 1 diabetes as the body does not stop producing insulin. However, the insulin secreted by the pancreas is either not adequate or the body becomes insulin resistant and the glucose levels begin to build in the bloodstream. This is the most common form of diabetes affecting adults across the world.
Prediabetes develops when the glucose in the bloodstream is higher than the normal quantities. However, the range is not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is a high blood sugar condition that occurs during pregnancy. This form of diabetes is caused by insulin-blocking hormones that are generated by the placenta.
Diabetes insipidus is a rare disease where the kidneys tend to remove large amounts of fluid from the body. The condition is not related to diabetes mellitus.
Symptoms of Diabetes
The general symptoms that indicate towards a diabetic condition are:
• If you experience increased hunger pangs
• If you feel thirsty more often than usual
• If you notice a sudden loss in weight without any probable reason
• If you experience the urge to urinate frequently
• If you observe that your vision is blurry
• If you feel more exhausted than usual
• If you notice that your sores are not healing in time
Adding on to the general symptoms of diabetes, men may go through the following:
• If you experience a decrease in your sex drive
• If you notice any occasions of ED or erectile dysfunction
• If you observe limited strength in your muscles
Women too may face additional symptoms in combination with the general symptoms, namely:
• If you suffer from urinary tract infections
• If you experience yeast infections
• If you notice that your skin is dry and itchy
Symptoms of diabetes can also vary depending on the type. Symptoms that indicate type 1 diabetes are:
• If you experience bouts of extreme hunger
• If you feel thirsty more often
• If you notice that you are losing weight suddenly
• If you feel the urge to urinate frequently
• If you observe that your vision is becoming blurry
• If you experience fatigue
• If you notice any sudden changes in your mood
Symptoms that may point towards type 2 diabetes include:
• If you feel hungry more often
• If you experience thirst more frequently than usual
• If you have the urge to recurrently urinate
• If you notice your vision turning blurry
• If you observe your sores taking more than usual time to heal
• If you experience recurring infections
Symptoms for gestational diabetes are not easily identified as most women don’t experience any. For the majority of cases of gestational diabetes, it is diagnosed during routine blood sugar testing or through an oral glucose tolerance test performed typically between the 24th and 28th week of the pregnancy.
However, in the rarest of circumstances, symptoms that may indicate to gestational diabetes during pregnancy are:
• If you experience frequent thirst
• If you need to urinate repeatedly
Causes of Diabetes
The reasons behind the development of diabetes in an individual are largely due to the following:
Type 1 Diabetes: Medical practitioners are yet to find out exactly what causes type 1 diabetes. While many are of the opinion that genes play a key role in this, it is possible that the immune system that mistakenly fights and kills the beta cells in the pancreas that manufacture insulin could be triggered by a virus.
Type 2 Diabetes: This disease may be caused by a combination of lifestyle and genetic factors. Other factors that may also contribute as a significant cause is being overweight or obese. Carrying additional weight on the body, especially in the abdomen region, pushes the cells towards being more resistant to the impact of insulin on the sugar in the blood.
Gestational Diabetes: Hormonal changes during pregnancy is the primary cause of gestational diabetes. During this time, the placenta that connects the mother and the child in the womb generates these hormones that make the mother’s cells less responsive to the powers of insulin causing high blood sugar throughout the pregnancy period. Being overweight prior to pregnancy or gaining weight more than necessary during this period is a likely cause of gestational diabetes too.
Hereditary and environmental factors are also leading causes that trigger diabetes in individuals.
Who is most at Risk of developing Diabetes?
The risk of diabetes is increased due to certain factors including:
Type 1 Diabetes:
Children or teenagers are likely to be at risk of developing type 1 diabetes is the parents or siblings carry specific genes that are linked to the condition.
Type 2 Diabetes:
You are more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes:
The risk of gestational diabetes is likely to be on the rise:
Testing for diabetes is important to confirm the diagnosis. The following diagnostic screenings may be recommended by your healthcare provider:
To diagnose prediabetes and diabetes:
• The FPG or fasting plasma glucose blood test may be required which requires fasting for 8 hours prior to testing
• The AC1 test is performed to project a snapshot of the glucose levels in the blood over a period of 3 months
To determine if there a possibility of gestational diabetes during the pregnancy, the healthcare provider may prescribe the following tests between the 24th and 28th weeks of your pregnancy:
• The glucose challenge test, the blood sugar levels are analysed an hour after consuming a sugary drink
• The 3-hour glucose tolerance screening checks the blood sugar levels post fasting overnight followed by drinking a sugary liquid
Treatment can begin as soon as the diagnosis for diabetes has been confirmed.
The following types of treatment are applicable depending on the type of diabetes:
• Treatment for Type 1 Diabetes: The key treatment for type 1 diabetes is insulin as it is able to replace the hormone that the body is unable to produce. There are four types of insulin that are commonly used. The administration generally depends on how swiftly the insulin starts working and the duration of its impact on the individual.
• Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes: Managing your diabetic condition is an important part of the treatment process for types of diabetes. This can be done by maintaining a healthy weight along with ensuring that your diet is as per the recommendations of your healthcare provider and combining it with an exercise plan.
You may also be prescribed medications that will help to regulate and control the blood sugar levels in the body.
• Treatment for Gestational Diabetes: The blood sugar levels need regular monitoring throughout the pregnancy. Dietary and lifestyle changes may be recommended if the levels are really high.
Endocrinology is a branch of biology and medicine that involves the endocrine system – the pituitary, thyroid, adrenals, ovaries, testes and pancreas. These organs are basically glands that secrete hormones into the bloodstream. These hormones are integral to the system as they perform several key functions.
What is Endocrinology?
Diagnosing and treating conditions of the endocrine system is known as endocrinology. The conditions may also be referred to as hormonal imbalances.
The field of endocrinology also comprises of studying aspects such as amalgamation of developmental events such as proliferation, progression and segregation. Histogenesis and organogenesis may also be included when researching the processes of segregation or differentiation.
Endocrinology also takes into consideration the coordination of several body systems comprising of the processes of metabolism, respiration, excretion, movement, reproduction and sensory perception. Examination of these systems is typically at a chemical or cellular level depending on chemical cues and secretions by a number of organs inside the body.
Causes of Endocrine Disorders
There are generally two types of endocrine disorders:
• When the glands produce too much or too little of an endocrine hormone, a condition also referred to as hormonal imbalance
• When there is the development of lesions in the form of nodules or tumours in the endocrine system, the presence of which may or may not impact the hormonal levels
Types of Endocrine Disorders
There are several types of endocrinal disorders including:
• Adrenal insufficiency such as Addison's disease
• Cushing's disease
• Gigantism (acromegaly) and other growth hormone problems
• Multiple endocrine neoplasias I and II (MEN I and MEN II)
• Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
• Precocious puberty
Your healthcare provider may recommend the following diagnostic screenings if he or she suspects your symptoms pointing towards an endocrine disorder.
• Blood tests and urine tests to check the levels of hormone levels
• Imaging tests assist in determining if the nodule or a tumour is present
Endocrine disorders and their treatment routes may be complicated due to its direct relation to the hormonal level in the body. A slight alternation in one or more hormones may throw the others off balance. Your endocrinologist, who is a specialist in treating endocrine conditions may request routine blood work so as to keep a check towards any further complications developing or to see if the prescribed medications or therapy plan requires any adjustment.
About the Department
Endocrine conditions can severely impact both children and adults alike. These disorders are also a contributing factor towards developing diabetes. At the Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes at Fortis Hospital in Chennai, our team or expert endocrinologists and diabetologists offer accurate evaluations and provide modern modes of treatment options for a broad spectrum of endocrine conditions.
Specialists at Fortis, Chennai help patients to make knowledgeable choices when it comes to choosing treatment options in order to manage their endocrine conditions and diabetes. This is done through a series of consultation and making lifestyle transformations, medicines and continued monitoring.
Fortis Hospitals in Chennai is proud of being one of the leading treatment centres of Endocrine Disorders and Diabetes in the city. Our team of experts along with the support staff continue to work extremely hard to keep earning this outstanding reputation.