Diabetes is a complex condition which can affect the entire body. Diabetes requires daily self-care and if complications develop, diabetes can have a significant impact on quality of life. The three main types of diabetes are:
- Diabetes type 1
Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease where the immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. People with type 1 diabetes cannot produce insulin and require lifelong insulin replacement for survival. The disease can occur at any age, although it mostly occurs in children and young adults. Type 1 diabetes is sometimes referred to as ‘juvenile onset diabetes’ or ‘insulin dependent diabetes’.
- Diabetes type 2
Type 2 diabetes is associated with hereditary factors and lifestyle risk factors including poor diet, insufficient physical activity and being overweight. People with type 2 diabetes may be able to manage their condition through lifestyle changes; however, diabetes medications or insulin replacement may also be required to control blood sugar levels.Type 2 diabetes occurs mostly in people aged over 40 years old; however, the disease is also becoming increasingly prevalent in younger age groups
- Gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy. The condition usually disappears once the baby is born; however, a history of gestational diabetes increases a woman’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
How does diabetes affect the body?
When someone has diabetes, their body can’t maintain healthy levels of glucose in the blood which is the main source of energy for the body. Unhealthy levels of glucose in the blood can lead to long term and short-term health complications. For body to work properly, need to convert glucose (sugar) from food into energy. A hormone called insulin is essential for the conversion of glucose into energy. In people with diabetes, insulin is no longer produced or not produced in enough amounts by the body. When people with diabetes eat high glucose level food it can’t be converted into energy.
Instead of being turned into energy the glucose stays in the blood resulting in high blood glucose levels. After eating, the glucose is carried around the body in the blood. The level of glucose in the blood is called glycemia.
Two things you need to know about diabetes:
All types of diabetes are complex and require daily care and management
Diabetes does not discriminate, anyone can develop diabetes
In type 1 diabetes, symptoms are often sudden and can be life-threatening; therefore, it is usually diagnosed quite quickly.
In type 2 diabetes, many people have no symptoms at all, while other signs can go unnoticed being part of ‘getting older’.
Therefore, by the time symptoms are noticed, complications of diabetes may already be present.
Common symptoms include:
- Being more thirsty than usual
- Passing more urine
- Feeling tired and lethargic
- Always feeling hungry
- Having cuts that heal slowly
- Itching, skin infections
- Blurred vision
- Unexplained weight loss (type 1)
- Gradually putting on weight (type 2)
- Mood swings
- Feeling dizzy
- Leg cramps
According to Ayurveda, diabetes can be traced to an imbalance of kapha energy, which is comprised of the elements earth and water. Ayurvedic practioner attribute the development of diabetes to a decrease in the digestive fire( “agni”) and thereby a diminished ability of the body to metabolize energy and eliminate toxins.
Ayurveda classifies diabetes as one of the Prameha diseases. Prameha means excessive secretion of diseased urine.
Prameha is classified in two types according to etiological classification:
a)Sahaja prameha/ beeja doshaj – It includes people with prameha since birth or born to the parents suffering with this disease.
b)Apathya nimitaja prameha / doshaj – This type of prameha is manifested in people with bad eating habits and lifestyles leading to aggravation of doshas. These factors aggravate kapha which further vitiates meda (fat), mamsa (muscle tissue) and kleda (liquid dhatus). Vitiated liquid dhatus transform into urine while kapha obstructs urinary channels.
Excessive intake of astringent, cold and pungent things, keeping awake at night, stress, anxiety, suppression of urges for urine and stool, excessive administration of emesis are also aggravating factors. Aggravated vata draws vasa (muscle fat), lasika (lymph) and ojas to channels carrying urine. Excretion of ojas through urinary bladder is mentioned as Madhumeha (Diabetes mellitus) in Ayurveda. Poorva Rupa (Premonitory symptoms) are sweet taste in mouth, excessive sleep & continuous drowsiness, dryness in mouth, numbness & burning sensation in hands & feet, attraction of insects & ants by urine, thirst and laziness.
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