Diabetes often referred to as diabetes mellitus, is a group of metabolic diseases which occurs as a result of high blood glucose (blood sugar) in such a person. This may be caused due to inadequate insulin production, or improper response to insulin by body cells or both. Patients who have high sugar content in their blood will experience frequent urination (polyuria). They will also become increasingly hungry (polyphagia) and thirsty (polydipsia).
These high blood sugar levels may occur over a prolonged period. If not properly taken care of, diabetes can lead to a lot of complications. Some acute complications include nonketotic hyperosmolar coma and diabetic ketoacidosis. Serious long-term complications include stroke, cardiovascular disease, and damage to the eyes, foot ulcers, and chronic kidney failure.
Diabetes is usually caused when the pancreas does no produce enough insulin for the body or the body cells are not giving a proper response to the insulin being produced.
The common symptoms of untreated diabetes include increased urination, increased thirst, weight loss, and increased hunger. Symptoms may develop quickly between weeks or months in type 1 DM. in type 2, they usually develop slowly and may be absent or subtle.
In addition to the known ones above, some other signs and symptoms of diabetes which may not be specific to the disease include a headache, fatigue, blurry vision, itchy skin, and slow healing of cuts. Persistent high blood glucose levels may cause glucose absorption in the eye lens. This will lead to changes in its shape, thereby resulting in vision changes.
COMMON SYMPTOMS OF DIABETES
- Recurrent urination
You will urinate more frequently if there exist too much glucose in your blood level. If insulin becomes ineffective in your body, your kidneys may not be able to filter the glucose back into the blood. Water is taken from the blood by the kidney in order to be able to dilute the glucose. This, in turn, fills up your bladder.
- Inconsistent thirst
Once you keep urinating more often than usual, the body may need to replace that lost liquid. This will make you consume more water. Have you been taking in water, more than usual lately?
- Extreme hunger
Since your body insulin is not working appropriately, or not even available, the body cells will not get be able to get their energy. The body may end up reacting to this current lack of energy situation by finding more energy in the form of food. Extreme hunger sets in.
- Weight gain
This is often caused when you begin to eat too much as a result of extreme hunger.
- Unusual weight loss
This is common with people having Type 1 Diabetes. As your body is not producing enough insulin, it begins to seek out for another energy source. Fat and muscle tissue will be broken down to generate energy. Weight loss is more obvious with Type 1 since it is of a more sudden onset.
- Increased fatigue
Energy is provided for the cells by glucose. If your insulin is not working properly or inadequate, glucose will not be able to enter your body cells. This means nothing to provide the cells with energy. This will, in turn, make you feel inactive and fatigued.
Irritability can occur as a result of your lack of energy.
- Blurred vision
This can occur when tissues are being pulled from your eye lenses. The focusing ability of your eyes is affected. This may end up leading to prolonged vision problems or even blindness.
- Slow healing of Cuts and Bruises
When there is more sugar in your body, the healing ability of the white blood cells can be weakened.
- More skin infections
The body becomes prone to infections when there is more sugar in it. The ability to recover from infections are also affected. Women with diabetes usually find it very difficult to recover from vaginal and bladder infections.
- Itchy skin
A sense of itchiness on your skin is at times a symptom of diabetes.
- Gums become red and/or swollen
If your gums are red, swollen or tender, this could be one of the symptoms of diabetes. Your teeth will become loose. The gums will begin to pull away from them. You may also experience frequent gum infections.
- Sexual dysfunction among men
Increased blood sugar level tends to cause frequent or constant sexual dysfunction in men, especially 50 years and above. Erectile dysfunction could be a symptom of diabetes.
HOW DOES EXERCISE IMPROVE DIABETES?
Exercise helps to reduce the need of the body for insulin by keeping the body weight down. It also helps in increasing the sensitivity of the body to insulin, so glucose is more effectively used.
EXERCISE AND INSULIN
Insulin is required to shift glucose from your blood into the muscles. In the deficiency of insulin, an alternative energy source used by the muscles are fats. If this continues for too long, it may lead to acidosis. Acidosis can be lethal.
As long as there is enough insulin in your body, your muscles will begin to burn glucose during exercises. This naturally reduces your blood sugar level.
From research, exercise helps in improving diabetes by the following:
- Exercise increases the effectiveness of insulin in your body.
- Exercise lowers blood pressure.
- Exercise lowers blood sugar levels.
- Exercise increases good cholesterol (HDL) and lowers levels of bad cholesterol (LDL).
- Exercise helps weight loss.
- Exercise increases fat loss.
- Exercise improves wellbeing.
- Exercise builds muscle.
- Exercise reduces cardiovascular risk.
- Exercise improves circulation.
- Exercise helps to tackle the root cause of type 2 diabetes. This is because regular insulin resistance is reduced by performing an exercise.
HOW MUCH EXERCISE IS ADEQUATE FOR THE BODY?
Taking a 30 to 40-minute brisk walk for at least three to four times a week should be enough to improve the body’s fitness level. It can also reduce cardiovascular risk.
Since there is an increased risk of stroke and heart disease when you have diabetics, same as excess weight. It is advisable to perform exercises for at least five days in a week if not daily.
- Some of the simple ways to increase activity levels include:
- Walk or cycle short journeys rather than using the car.
- Making use of stairs instead of the escalator or lift.
- Use your lunch break as an opportunity to stroll.
- Get off the bus early and trek the remaining.
- Regular walking of a dog, playing and golf swimming.
Energetic housework, such as gardening and vacuuming, remains a good way to exercise. This is because when you set aside your exercise as something that is only done at a certain place or time, you find it very hard to avoid.
As far as your blood sugar level is concerned, it is also a very good idea to spread you day to day activities across the day. This will help keep the level of glucose in the blood stable for as long as possible.