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Diabetes-The Biggest Epidemic in India

India is a country with the highest number of diabetes cases in the world. Around 5% of the total population suffers from Diabetes. The International Diabetes Federation expects the number will soar to 123 million by 2040. As per WHO records, around 3.4 million deaths occur in India due to high blood sugar. Times of India once referred India as ‘Diabetes Capital’ as 50 million people suffering from type-2 diabetes.

The figures are alarming and it tends to grow only! Diabetes in India is a common lifestyle disease that needs your utmost attention. In the long run, an uncontrolled blood sugar level may cause major organ damage. Nevertheless, even a little awareness in this regard can go a long run!

What’s  Diabetes

Diabetes is a state of condition when your body glucose is too high. Glucose is the main source of energy that comes from the food you eat. But when it is out of whack over a long time, it could develop Diabetes. Diabetes affects the body’s ability to produce insulin. Insulin is an important hormone that helps glucose turns to energy. Frequent urination, constant thirst, hunger are some of the common symptoms of diabetes.

Know Your Diabetes: The Types

These days experts are no talking only about Type I or Type II diabetes, but go beyond them and define more types. Diabetes types are usually categorized into-

  • Type I diabetes
  • Type II diabetes
  • Type III diabetes
  • Gestational diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes

Type I diabetes occurs when your body is unable to produce insulin on its own. Insulin regulates the glucose level in the blood. Due to the destruction of bets cells in the pancreas leads to low production of insulin, resulting in high sugar level.

Symptoms:

The common symptoms of Type 1 diabetes include:

  • Constant hunger and thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Arid mouth
  • Vomiting and Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Weight loss
  • Exhaustion and Fatigue
  • Blurry eyesight
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Frequent skin infections

Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes complications also include:

  • Mental confusion
  • Hasty breathing
  • Constant stomach ache
  • Fainting or unconsciousness (in rare cases)

Diagnosis of Diabetes Include:

Type 1 diabetes diagnosis includes:

  • Glycated Haemoglobin (A1C) test: This test is done to have a clear idea of your blood sugar level for the past two to three months. It also measures the percentage of blood sugar attached in the red protein in the blood cells (Haemoglobin). Higher blood sugar means, more haemoglobin with sugar attached. As per the test, 6.5% or higher on two separate tests indicates diabetes.
  • Random blood sugar test: A frequent blood test at a random time is also required. Usually, the blood sugar level is counted in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Irrespective of when you last ate, a random blood test result showing sugar level 200 mg/dL indicates diabetes, coupled with the common symptoms such as frequent urination, extreme thirst etc.
  • Fasting blood sugar test: Here a blood test is taken after an overnight break. When the sugar level is below 100 mg/dL, it is normal. A level from 100 to 1`25 mg/dL is considered as pre-diabetes, and anything higher than that is considered diabetes.

Causes of Type 1 Diabetes

The exact cause of Type 1 diabetes is unknown. Usually, the body’s immune system that fights against the harmful viruses or bacteria accidentally destroys the insulin-producing cells (Beta Cells) in the Pancreas. The beta cell produces insulin, which further helps in turning the glucose into energy.

How to Treat Type 1 Diabetes

Treatment for type 1 diabetes includes:

  • Taking required Insulin
  • Monitoring of blood sugar level regularly
  • Healthy diet, rich in good fat, required carbohydrates, and protein
  • Following an active life with regular exercise

What’s More?

Let’s know about Type 1 diabetes and the role of glucose and Insulin:

Normally when you eat or drink something the body breaks down sugars from your food and turns them into energy. To perform this, the pancreas produces a hormone called insulin. Insulin facilitates the process of converting sugar into energy.

When you diagnose with diabetes, the pancreas either produces too little insulin or no insulin at all. Thus the required insulin level remains insufficient for the body. This, on the other hand, increases the glucose level in the blood, while the rest of your body cells are deprived of sufficient amount of much-needed energy.

When you have Type 1 diabetes, you require to take a regular dose of insulin, as your body is unable to produce it naturally. Insulin can be found in several types:

  • Long-acting insulin
  • Rapid-acting insulin
  • Short-acting (regular) insulin
  • Intermediate-acting (NPH) insulin
  • Pre-mixed insulin

You can’t take insulin orally. It is usually taken through injections or insulin pump. Also, the dosage is prescribed by your physician only. While suggesting it your age, weight, diet, overall health etc. are taken into consideration.

Additional Medications to Treat Type 1 Diabetes

Additional medications for treating type 1 diabetes may include:

  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs)
  • Aspirin
  • Cholesterol-lowering drugs

Risk Factors of Type 1 Diabetes

Some common risk factors of type 1 diabetes are:

  • Family History: Anyone in the family like parent or sibling with type 1 diabetes increases the chance of developing this health condition.
  • Genetics: It is also genetic. Certain genes indicate an increased risk of having type 1 diabetes.
  • Geography: The risk tends to increase as you travel away from the equator
  • Age: Although it is referred to as juvenile diabetes or can be founded among the youth, it can appear at any age. It usually occurs in two stages, first in children between 4 to 7 years, the other is in children between 10 to 14 years.

How Does Type 1 Diabetes Affect Your Body?

Diabetes can be managed if caught early, but when it is left untreated, it can cause potential health complications, by damaging major body parts. Some of the health risks associated with Type 1 diabetes include:

  • Diseases pertaining to cardiovascular issues leading to heart attack, stroke, chest pain
  • Damage of nerves
  • Kidney failure
  • Damage to gastrointestinal tract nerves
  • Serious vision issues
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataract
  • Various foot complications due to poor blood flow to the feet or nerve damage in feet
  • Skin infections
  • Mouth infections
  • Pregnancy-related complications

How to Cure Type 1 Diabetes?

Unfortunately, despite many research, there is no cure for Type 1 diabetes. However, treatment focuses on constant check on blood sugar level, insulin, right diet and active lifestyle.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a common type of diabetes that occurs mainly at the middle age. In type 2, a human is unable to use insulin properly. This stage is called insulin resistance. When it is usually found among the adults, but getting it at a much younger age is no surprise. Despite many research and study, a complete solution to type 2 diabetes is yet to found. However, an active lifestyle with a balanced diet is the way to keep the disease at a bay!

What’re the Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes:

The common symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes are:

  • Heavy thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Intense hunger
  • Skin infections
  • Blurry eyesight
  • Slow-healing sores
  • Unexplained Weight loss
  • Mouth infections
  • Regular tiredness and fatigue

How to Diagnose Type 2 Diabetes

The following tests are conducted to diagnose Type 2 diabetes:

  • Glycated Haemoglobin (A1C) test
  • Random blood sugar test
  • Fasting blood sugar test
  • Oral glucose tolerance test

Causes of Type 2 Diabetes:

When it comes to the cause of type 2 diabetes genetics and lifestyle causes are the main. A blend of these causes may cause insulin resistance, a stage when your body is unable to utilize the amount of insulin the way it should. Type 2 diabetes also can be hereditary. However, it doesn’t surely mean that if any of your parents has diabetes, you will surely develop it,  instead, it means that the chances are quite higher. Moreover, your lifestyle choices play an important role. If you take good care of your health, follow an active life and strict diet, you may not develop the disease.

Treating Type 2 Diabetes

If you develop this health condition, treating it can be possible through:

  • Ensuring a healthy diet
  • Following a regular work-out schedule. Brisk walk is especially recommended along with minor weight-management work-outs
  • Taking regular medicines to maintain the required sugar level
  • Insulin therapy
  • Monitoring blood sugar level

Additional Medication to Type 2 Diabetes

Medication for type-2 diabetes may include medicines such as:

  • Metformin (Glucophage, Glumetza)
  • Thiazolidinediones (Rosiglitazone, pioglitazone)
  • Sulfonylureas (DiaBeta, Glynase)
  • Meglitinides (repaglinide, nateglinide)
  • SGLT2 inhibitors (canagliflozin, dapagliflozin)
  • DPP-4 inhibitors (sitagliptin, saxagliptin, linagliptin
  • GLP-1 receptor agonists (Exenatide, liraglutide)

How does Insulin Therapy Work?

Type 2 diabetes patient also require insulin therapy. As we already have mentioned, you can’t take insulin orally, the only way is to inject in the stomach. The different types of insulin to consider in case of Type 2 diabetes are:

  • Insulin Aspart (Novolog)
  • Insulin glulisine (Apidra)
  • Insulin lispro (Humalog)
  • Insulin isophane (Humulin N, Novolin N)
  • Insulin glargine (Lantus)
  • Insulin detemir (Levemir)

Risk Factors

The below conditions increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes:

  • Age factor
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Prediabetes (if the glucose level is higher than normal)
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Obesity or excessive body weight

Health Complications of Type 2 Diabetes

There are short or long term health conditions to contend with if you ignore Type 2 diabetes or it is left untreated. It may damage some of the major organs such as heart, eyes, kidney, blood vessels. Some of the more serious health conditions you ought to consider in case of type 2 diabetes:

  • Heart and blood vessel related disease such as excessive chest pain, stroke, heart attack, atherosclerosis
  • Nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, constipation and erectile dysfunction
  • Kidney failure
  • Damage of nerves
  • Hearing impairment
  • Eyesight issues
  • Damage to feet due to low blood flow
  • Skin infection/allergies
  • Alzheimer's disease.

Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes

While there is no sure-shot scientific way of preventing type 2 diabetes, the only way to keep it at bay is to lead a healthy life. Regular exercise, balanced diet and a little improvement in the lifestyle will go a long run in preventing diabetes-related issues. Even if you are living with type 2 diabetes you can lead a good life only if you:

  • Ensure a balanced diet, which includes a sufficient amount of food, green vegetables or food that are rich in fibre.
  • Ensure regular physical activity, if not at least walk for half an hour daily
  • If you’re over-weight, reduce it immediately. Body weight increases the risk of developing diabetes 10 times higher.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is found among pregnant women. The normal blood sugar level in the body increases during pregnancy, which lead to Gestational diabetes. Remember that, despite having this, you can have a healthy baby with the help of your doctor and to maintaining your blood sugar level. In most cases, after the baby is born, Gestational diabetes also goes away. But there are chances you may develop Type 2 diabetes if timely precautions are not taken.

Symptoms

As it is found only routine maternity tests, there are no usual symptoms of this type of diabetes. In some cases, a pregnant woman suffering from this type of diabetes may experience:

  • Intense hunger
  • Heavy thirst
  • Frequent urination

Causes of Gestational Diabetes

During the pregnancy term, the placenta develops hormones that can cause excessive glucose in the blood. Usually, the pancreas can make sufficient insulin to encounter the excess glucose produced. If not the glucose level can go up and you develop gestational diabetes.

How to Diagnose Gestational Diabetes?

This diabetes may occur during the third trimester. A blood test is done to check if you have this type of diabetes during the 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. A sugary drink is to be taken an hour before the test is done. If the blood glucose is between 130 mg/dL or above, another test will be required. Fasting and a test will be done within 3 hours gap. A follow-up test may require if the report comes normal but the woman experience the common symptoms of gestational diabetes.

How to Treat Gestational Diabetes?

With a regular check-up and a little awareness, you can treat this diabetes easily. You’ll require

  • Having checked the blood glucose level 4 or more times within a day
  • Urine tests are also required. If ketones are found in the test, the diabetes is considered to be uncontrolled
  • You can take a diet plan from a nutritionist focusing on your pregnancy.
  • Ensuring daily mild exercises
  • Additionally, also keep a track of the excessive weight that you’ve gained during pregnancy

Risk Factors

Around 2% and 10% of pregnant women are affected by Gestational diabetes every year. Hence, the common factors that contribute to Gestational diabetes are:

  • Excessive weight gain before pregnancy
  • High blood pressure
  • Have given birth to a baby with excessive weight
  • High blood sugar level
  • Medical complications
  • Have experienced miscarriage before or baby with some birth defects
  • Family history of diabetes
  • History of gestational diabetes

Apart from the above, there is Type 3 diabetes as well. When type 1 and Typ2 diabetes are due to lifestyle changes, Type 3 diabetes is related to the human brain. When the brain is resistant to the generated insulin by the body, this stage is called Type 3 diabetes. Usually, it is the most unspoken types of diabetes, where very few types of research are done. The symptoms are quite common as the other types, however, brain dysfunction coupled with memory loss is one of the main symptoms.  Obesity is the main cause to develop this type of diabetes.

Diabetes in India-Myths Busted!

Myth 1: People with Diabetes can’t Eat Sugar!

Fact says: This is perhaps the most common of all diabetes myths. A large portion of the population tends to avoid sugar or sugary items when they develop diabetes. However, people suffering from diabetes can take sugar in moderation or they can use alternates as well to treat their taste buds.

Myth 2: Type 2 Diabetes is not a Serious Issue!

Fact says: Diabetes is a serious and chronic health condition. Even two out of three people die due to cardiovascular diseases such as stroke or heart attack where diabetes can one of the main causes of these. If it is not controlled with proper medications, it may pose a threat to your life.

Myth 3: Only Fat People can Develop Type 2 Diabetes!

Fact says: Completely wrong, diabetes can happen to anyone, irrespective of your body type. However, people with excessive weight are at high risk. But the reality is it can affect people with normal weight as well. Your lifestyle and family history also contribute to diabetes.

Myth 4: People with Diabetes become Blind and Face Leg Amputation

Fact says: Diabetes can be a leading reason for the loss of eyesight or leg amputation but it is no hard and fast rule that you face the same. If you control your blood sugar level and take proper medicines, you can lead your life normally.

Myth 5: Diabetes is an Infectious Disease

Fact says: It is not! Diabetes is not a contagious illnesses. It is non-communicable. Hence, if you touch a person affected with diabetes you can’t develop the disease. But it can be passed genetically, like from parents to children.        

Myth 6: I can develop low blood sugar if I exercise to control my blood sugar level!

Fact says: Better you keep your excuses aside. Exercise is crucial to keep diabetes at a bay. Even if you develop one of the man types of diabetes, it will help you maintain a healthy life by making life with diabetes easier. If you’re taking insulin or are on medicines, which may increase the production of insulin level, you should balance it through proper exercises as per your insulin and medicine schedule. Take doctor’s advice in this regard.

How Diabetes and Health Insurance Go Hand in Hand!

Changing lifestyle is taking a toll on people’s health; rising incidents of diabetes are examples. Also referred to as ‘silent killer’ the chances of getting hospitalized is quite higher for someone in case of a health condition arising out of diabetes. This other way means having to pay a large medical bill, considering the growing inflation in the medical sector. This compels one to be covered under a diabetes insurance plan.

Why’s Diabetes Plan Important?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that requires frequent medical advice. It may cause further severe health issues if not treated properly. Hence, an insurance plan specifically designed keeping the requirements of a patient with diabetes will serve the hospitalization concerns of the individual better. Moreover, in case of regular health insurance policies, diabetes is treated as a pre-existing illness where the coverage is offered after serving a specific waiting period around 2 to 4 years. So, it is sensible to buy diabetes health insurance, which covers you from day 1.

Best Health Insurance for Diabetics in India

With inflation and rising lifestyle costs, managing the expenses for treating a disease like diabetes is difficult. The situation is more complicated if you’re the only breadwinner of the family. Here, disease-specific insurance such as diabetes insurance comes in handy. Indian insurers have started introducing disease-specific insurance considering the growing rate of illnesses. In this regards, the below table shows some of the leading health insurers offering best health insurance for diabetics in India.

Insurer

Plan Name

Eligibility

Sum Insured (Rs.)

Star Health & Allied Company

Diabetes Safe Insurance Plan

18 years to 65 years

3/4/5/10 lakh

Apollo Munich

Energy Insurance Policy

18 years to 65 years

Rs. 2 lakh to Rs. 10 lakh

National Insurance

Varishta Mediclaim Insurance Policy

60 years to  8 years

Maximum Renewal Age: 90 years

Rs. 1 lakh and Rs. 2 lakh

ICICI Prudential

Diabetes Care Plan

25 to 60 years

Rs. 3 lakh, Rs. 5 lakh  and Rs. 10 lakh

Religare General insurance

Religare Care Freedom

18 years to no limit

Up to Rs. 5 lakh

If you’re among the one who is looking for an adequate diabetes insurance plan for yourself or your parents, don’t forget to consider these diabetes health insurance plans in India.

A Final Note!

Leading a life with diabetes can be difficult. You may come across many health issues. You may tend to give up at such point. However, if you get a handle on how to deal with this through proper medication or slightly alter your lifestyle, you’ll become comfortable in managing life with diabetes. The only thing to remember is to maintain your LIFESTYLE!

Diabetes FAQs

Q1: I’ve recently diagnosed with diabetes. What should I do now? Do I need to take insulin from the starting?

Ans: If you are diagnosed with diabetes, the best way is to take proper medicine from the starting, keep a check on your diet or consult a dietician regarding this and do regular minor exercises to keep you active. If your sugar level is maintained after being diagnosed with diabetes, you’ll not require to be on insulin. Insulin is given if you have comparatively higher sugar level, which is uncontrolled through medicines. Moreover, don’t ignore the physical activity part. Diabetes treatment and exercises go hand in hand.

Q2: How important it is to keep the blood sugar level under control? What is the ideal sugar level one must have?

Ans: Keeping your blood sugar level maintained is very important, if not you may develop diabetes. If you already have it, maintain the level is even more important. An uncontrolled blood sugar level may lead to other health issues or can damage major organs such as kidney, liver, heart etc. The below chart will help you interpret and address an ideal blood sugar level :

When to Check

Recommended Sugar Level for the People without Diabetes

Recommended Sugar Level for the People with Diabetes

Before meals

Less than 100 mg/dl

80–130 mg/dl

1-2 hours after a meal

Less than 140 mg/dl

Less than 180 mg/dl

Over a 3 months period- through A1C test

less than 5.7%

Less than 7%

less than 180 mg/dL

Q3: Are sugar and sugary items the leading cause of Diabetes?

Ans: Eating sugar or sugary products do not directly lead to diabetes. It may either lead to weight gain or obesity. And indirectly, obesity is one of the causes of Type-2 diabetes and the only cause of Type 3 diabetes.

Q4: How safe artificial sweeteners are?

Ans: Most artificial sweeteners come with ADI (acceptable daily intake) mentioned in the pack. ADI indicates the level of a substance that is safe to consume each day. If you are taking one, ensure the lave is lower than the suggested ADI, if you have diabetes. However, artificial sweeteners are not recommended for pregnant women.

Q5: How Much Physical Activity is required if I suffer from diabetes?

Ans: Being physically active, you can avoid the common complications of diabetes. Apart from the minor weight training (if your physician suggests), brisk walking is one of the best exercises to follow. You can start with five to ten minutes initially, gradually increase the timing over the period of time. In this regard, you can take advice from a health expert if you are a gym person.

Q6: Is there any possibility of my feet to suffer if I have diagnosed with diabetes?

Ans: Diabetes may cause insufficient blood flow or damage to the nerve in feet, affecting your feet differently. It is advised to keep a constant eye on your feet or if there is any complication, you suffer.

Q7: What type of Insulin can I take?

Ans: Insulin therapy is required to treat diabetes. There are different types of insulin and it is given as per the type of diabetes you have. It is advised to consult with your physician to decide the dose and type of insulin you require.

Q8: Is Diabetes Fully Curable?

Ans: Unfortunately no! Diabetes has no cure till date and people those who diagnose with this will have to live with this for the rest of the life. However, by marinating a healthy lifestyle and following a strict diet, one can lead a normal life even with diabetes.

Q9: What is Prediabetes?

Ans: It is a health condition in which the patient experience a higher blood sugar level than the normal. However, it is not high enough to be declared as diabetic. A large portion of the population across the globe suffer from pre-diabetes. It is necessary to take up a test to check whether you are pre-diabetic or not.

Q10: Can diabetes lead to serious health Conditions?

Ans: Yes! Diabetes can lead to serious and life-threatening medical emergencies. In diabetes, usually, the glucose level in the body tends to higher or lower than normal. The level may fluctuate frequently, which can lead to serious complications such as stroke, chest pain, kidney failure, cardiovascular issues etc.

Q11. How does stress affect diabetes?

Ans: Stress and diabetes are interlinked. Stress can be a major hurdle to control the glucose level. The stress hormones may directly affect body glucose level. During stress, your body releases adrenaline and cortisol into your bloodstream, due to which the respiratory rates increases. In this stage, the body may be unable to process the glucose by the firing nerve cells if you’re suffering from diabetes. When your body is unable o convert glucose into energy, it builds up in the bloodstream and causes the blood sugar level to rise.

Q12. I’ve heard being insulin means I have to make lifestyle changes. Is it true?

Ans: Your blood sugar level may be controlled through diet, exercise or medicines initially. However, your medicines may not be as effective as they were. At this stage, you may require to be on insulin to maintain the sugar level. With insulin, it is necessary to maintain your diet and keeping yourself active. This way by making a minimal lifestyle change, you can keep diabetes-related complications at bay.

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