What is diabetes?
Posted on September 10th, 2011

DrƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Hector PereraƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ EnglandƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

Diabetes is a common life-long health condition. This is a condition where the amount of glucose in the blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly. This is because the pancreas does not produce any insulin, or not enough, to help glucose enter your bodyƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s cells ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” or the insulin that is produced does not work properly (known as insulin resistance).

According to DiabetesUK, there are 2.8 million people diagnosed with diabetes in theUKandƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ an estimatedƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 850,000 people who have the condition but donƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t know about it. The general population ofSri Lankais not as much inUKbut according to Consultant Physician and Endocrinologist Dr. Sisira Siribaddana, every one in ten is affected by this condition. The sad thing is just like inUK, the people inSri Lankaalso are unaware of this condition. The worse thing is everywhere it is on the increase.

Three Types of diabetics

Type one diabetes is the most serious but least common form and usually develops before age 30. People with this type of diabetes cannot make the hormone insulin in their pancreas to help energy (glucose) get into the body’s cells. They need to take insulin as an injection and balance their food intake and physical activity with their insulin.

Type (II) diabetes is the most common and usually develops after age 40. Type (II) diabetes is more likely to develop if you are overweight and have high blood pressure, high levels of fat in the blood, or a history of diabetes in the family. The treatment is, weight loss and increased physical activity, sometimes along with medication (pills or insulin injections).

Type three. Gestational diabetes develops in some women during pregnancy and often results in unusually large babies if not treated. Women who are overweight and older are more likely to have gestational diabetes. All pregnant women should be tested for diabetes between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy so that gestational diabetes, if found, can be treated.

Cause of diabetics

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ According to The Diabetics UK reports that nobody knows for sure the actual cause of type one diabetic. It arises due to a damage of this insulin producing cells but why these cells have been damaged is still under research.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  It says the most likely cause is the body having an abnormal reaction to the cells. One of the explanations is that it may be triggered by a virus or other infection. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ There is nothing that you can do to prevent Type 1 diabetes. This type of diabetes is always treated with insulin injections.

Type 2 diabetes is when the body either does not produce enough insulin, or the insulin it produces does not work as well as it should (insulin resistance). This type of diabetes is treated with lifestyle changes, following a healthy balanced diet, increasing physical activity, and losing weight if you need to. Some people may need medications and/or insulin injections to achieve normal blood glucose levels.

InsulinƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ is the hormone produced by the pancreas that allows glucose to enter the bodyƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s cells, where it is used as fuel for energy so we can work, play and generally live our lives. It is vital for life.

GlucoseƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ comes from digesting carbohydrate and is also produced by the liver.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ CarbohydrateƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ comes from many different kinds of foods and drink, including starchy foods such as bread, rice, potatoes and chapattis; fruit; some dairy products; cakes, sugar and other sweet foods.

If you have diabetes, your body cannot make proper use of this glucose so it builds up in the blood and isnƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t able to be used as fuel.

The medical advice is to go for regular checks for your own health sake but if they do so how come 850,000 people inUKand one tenth of the population inSri Lankaare unaware of this hidden illness in them? When there is food, they just eat not thinking for a moment of the health. We all need food to get energy or the fuel for the bodily functions breathing, walking and many other activities.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Diabetes symptoms

The Diabetics UKhave published some guidance to check the symptoms about diabetic. If you have any of the following symptoms contact your GP.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  But it is always safe to check for diabetic with any doctor not necessarily with your family doctor because you are embarrassed. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ If there is excess glucose in the blood, the body tries to flush it out of the body in the urine that means if you feel like using the toilet frequently, it could be day or night especially at night. To replace the water lost, you might feel thirsty, may feel very tired all the time. In some people there may be unexpected weight loss. Sometimes it can take a long time to heal simple cuts and wounds. If your vision is blurred, it may be a sign of diabetic but frequently they just ignore to visit a doctor to check for diabetic condition.


People with diabetes often need additional treatments to making lifestyle changes such as medication to control their diabetes, blood pressure and blood fats. Your doctor would advice the best for you.

Blood fats (cholesterol)

Cholesterol level can be improved by, stopping smoking, following a healthy, balanced diet, watching out your body weight, if you are drinking then cutting down but no binge drinking then undertaking regular but simple physical activity such as walking. Are you couching potatoes, watching too much television? How come one not sees all the TV channels, no wonder you sit down for hours at one place.

You may find that lifestyle changes are not enough and you will need to take medication as well to help control your blood fats within the target range. Some people care a dog because you need to take the dog for a walk then automatically you get exercised. There are a number of different treatments which might be prescribed but your doctor will be able to discuss these with you and advice on the best choice for you.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Once it is under control, it is important to continue taking your medication until your doctor tells you otherwise. Early diagnosis, treatment and good control of diabetes is vital to reduce the chances of developing serious diabetes complications.

Some things that do not cause diabetes

Eating sweets and sugar in moderation do not cause diabetes, but eating a lot of sugary and fatty foods can lead to being overweight. I remember the varieties of sweetie things they make during the Sinhalese new year, kaum, aggala, athiraha and milk toffee are just a few. Please be honest and tell me, how come one resist not to eat them! There are sweet shops full of too many to mention, the question is how to control the temptation not to eat them. No wonder many people have undetected diabetics.

You cannot catch diabetes, like a cold. Stress does not cause diabetes, although it may make the symptoms worse in people who already have the condition. An accident or an illness will not cause diabetes but may reveal diabetes if it is already there, how because they test the blood, urine and the blood pressure.

Diabetics and eye check upƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

The diabetic patients are required to check the eye or have retinal screening to avoid any future blindness. It is reported about more than half a million of people inEnglandare at risk of blindness because they have not received retinal screening which is an annual check up.

The people with ulcers in feet must check the feet for nerve sensitivity because the complications can arise, eventually needing surgery. I have my doubt how many Sri Lankans have checked the eyes and feet to avoid any complications. To begin with they must visit a doctor, any blood checking laboratories so that a doctor can diagnose what is wrong by inspecting the blood report. Sometimes these laboratories analyze the blood as well as urine to make a medical report. There are plenty of facilities now in private as well in government hospitals. Any comments perera6@hotmail.co.uk


One Response to “What is diabetes?”

  1. Ben_silva Says:

    Excellent article by Dr Perera. Could you publish this in National Newspapers in Lanka to have a wider audience ?

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