Image credit: Harvard Health


Keywords: Diabetes, mellitus, gestational, type 2, glucose, glucometer, insulin



  • Introduction
  • What is diabetes?
  • What are the types of diabetes?
  • What do I feel when I have diabetes?
  • What are the medical treatments of diabetes?
  • What are the complications of diabetes?
  • How do I prevent diabetes?
  • Diabetes facts



Diabetes is a metabolic disease that is characterised by high blood glucose. It is caused by failure of body to regulate glucose levels. WHO estimates that 422 million people are diabetic. There are several types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, gestational diabetes, and the newly proposed type 3 diabetes (Alzheimer’s disease).



Diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) medical condition in which the patient’s blood has high glucose concentrations. Normal blood sugar levels are as follows:

  • when fasting (last meal was more than 8 hours ago): between 4.0 to 5.5 mmol/L (72 to 99 mg/dL)
  • 2 hours after eating a meal: Up to 7.8 mmol/L (140 mg/dL)

Thus, diabetes is when one’s blood glucose concentrations are above 5.4mmol/L when fasting or 7.8mmol/L after eating. Blood glucose levels are measured using a machine called a glucometer, one can find it in any health institute.



There are 3 main types of diabetes mellitus: type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes.

  • Type 1 Diabetes: this is the diabetes caused by failure of the body to produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that converts excess glucose to glycogen which is stored in the body. So, if this insulin is lacking, glucose will accumulate in the body leading to the diabetes.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: this is the diabetes caused by failure of the body to respond to hormone insulin. Therefore, insulin will not exert its effects leading to accumulation of blood glucose, resulting in diabetes.
  • Gestational diabetes: Gestational diabetes is the diabetes that appears in pregnant women who never had diabetes before. This diabetes usually disappears after giving birth. Its cause is unknown. Gestational pregnancy causes the baby to be at a higher risk of health problems.
  • Type 3 Diabetes: Alzheimer’s disease has been proposed to be type 3 diabetes in that the brain cells fail to respond to glucose hence these brain cells are affected leading to symptoms like dementia.



Symptoms of diabetes are:

  • Increased hunger
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Blurry vision
  • Fatigue

Additional symptoms of diabetes in men include: decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction and decreased muscle strength

Additional symptoms in women include: urinary tract infections, and itchy dry skin

Gestational diabetes usually presents with no symptoms.



Diabetes cannot be cured but it can be monitored and suppressed to make sure the blood glucose levels remain low.

Treatment of diabetes includes lifestyle modifications mainly diet and physical diet. The diet of a diabetic person should include more fruits, vegetables, lean meat and fibre; and less refined carbohydrates, saturated fats and sweets. Exercise and physical activity are essential for diabetic people. Exercise moves glucose from blood into cells where it is used to produce energy, thereby lowering blood glucose levels.



Severe uncontrolled or untreated type 1 and 2 diabetes can cause a number of problems as it ends up damaging some body organs and tissues.

These include:

  • heart disease, heart attack, and stroke
  • neuropathy
  • nephropathy
  • retinopathy and vision loss
  • hearing loss
  • foot infections and sores
  • skin disorders such as bacterial and fungal infections
  • depression
  • dementia


Gestational diabetes poses health problems to the unborn baby and to the mother. Complications of gestational diabetes include:

  • premature birth
  • higher-than-normal weight at birth
  • increased risk for being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes later in life
  • low blood sugar
  • jaundice
  • stillbirth



Type 1 diabetes can not be prevented as it is caused by the immune system. Type 2 diabetes caused by genetics cannot be prevented also.

Prevention of diabetes is mainly via lifestyle modifications in the following ways:

  • eating smaller quantities
  • undergoing aerobic exercise, such as walking or cycling for at least 150 minutes per week
  • reducing consumption of saturated fats and refined carbohydrates
  • eating more fruits, vegetables and grains
  • avoid being obese



  • Did you know that regularly drinking sugar-sweetened beverages increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by 13% over 10 years?
  • Did you know that alcohol can initially raise blood sugars, but will then create an environment where blood sugars will go down – potentially to dangerous levels – over several hours after consumption?
  • Did you know that patients with diabetes are most likely to be dehydrated?
  • Did you know that dogs can smell diabetes?
  • Did you know that adding fiber to your food can stop the blood sugar spikes in your food?
  • Did you know that number of people living with diabetes has doubled since 1980.
  • Did you know that cats and dogs can also get diabetes, and are can be treated with insulin?