Understanding Diabetes: Types, Risks, and Complications

Understanding Diabetes: Types, Risks, and Complications

Blood glucose meter. Diabetes. Diagnosis. A woman checking her blood glucose level using glucometer.

Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects millions of people around the world, including the United Arab Emirates. In UAE, the prevalence is estimated at 19%. It is a condition that occurs when the body cannot produce enough insulin or use insulin effectively, resulting in high blood sugar levels.

What are the different types of diabetes?

There are three main types:

  • Type 1, an autoimmune condition in which the immune system destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. This causes a decrease in insulin synthesis, which is required to manage blood sugar levels. Although it can occur at any age, it is most commonly diagnosed in children and young adults.
  • Type 2, is the most common type, accounting for around 90% of all cases. The body cannot use it effectively.
  • Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy and affects around 3-10% of pregnant women. Hormonal changes make the body more resistant to insulin. It typically resolves after giving birth, although women who have had gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

What are the risk factors?

The most common ones are:

  1. Having a family history, especially a first-degree relative such as a parent or sibling.
  2. Being overweight or obese puts extra stress on the body’s ability to use insulin to properly control blood sugar levels. This can lead to insulin resistance.
  3. A lack of physical activity can also increase the risk.
  4. High blood pressure can damage the blood vessels and increase the risk of diabetes.
  5. High levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides can increase the risk.
  6. Smoking increases the risk of many chronic diseases, including diabetes.

It’s important to note that having one or more risk factors does not necessarily mean that a person will develop diabetes. However, being aware of these risk factors can help people take steps to prevent or manage the condition.

Is diabetes serious?

Yes, it is a serious condition that can lead to a range of health problems if not managed properly. Uncontrolled diabetes can damage blood vessels and nerves, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and blindness. It can also lead to problems with the feet, skin, and gums. In addition, people with diabetes may be at increased risk for infections and slow healing of wounds. However, patients can prevent or delay many of these complications with proper management and control of blood sugar levels.

What should you do?

Diabetes is a serious condition that requires ongoing management to prevent complications such as heart disease, kidney disease, and nerve damage. Treatment includes lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, and weight management, as well as medication such as Mounjaro, Ozempic, and insulin therapy. You can also fill your prescription online.

It is important for individuals with diabetes to work closely with their healthcare providers to develop a personalized management plan and to consistently monitor and manage their blood sugar levels.