What is Diabetes? The sooner you know about it, the better!

“One in six people with diabetes in the world is from India.” 

In a survey conducted in 2019, finding the ‘ top 10 countries of diabetic patients ‘, India stands in the second position around 77 million diabetics, with China being the first with around 116 million cases. 

With the above-mentioned statistics, we can understand the prevalence of diabetes in India, where you can relate to the situation; anytime you visit a doctor in India regarding any complaints, they’ll have these standard questions like: do you have BP [ hypertension] or do you have blood sugar [Diabetes Mellitus]. 

These questions are important because these are serious conditions that make our body susceptible to other diseases. These are also the conditions that can be missed easily, as symptoms don’t usually show up at the early stage. 

Having these conditions are risky as it invites unnecessary problems to our body. 

Did you know, the Rajinikanth is a patient of Type 2 Diabetes too. (yeah it didn’t spare Superstar too )

In this article, I will simplify diabetes and make it understandable and not look at it as a fancy medical term. 

Normal functions of the Body.

“ I a universe of atoms, an atom in the universe.”

Our human body is made up of billions of cells. We cannot see these cells with our naked eye. But when you observe it under a microscope, you’ll get to see the diversity of that small cell. It is shocking to know how these small cells carry out huge roles and help us maintain our life with ease. 

When the functioning of these cells is messed up, we’ll be disturbed from our ease (Dis-Ease).

The primary energy source for a cell is a glucose (sugar) molecule. Now when there is no energy going to these hard-working cells, that’s a problem. The functionality of the cells will be affected.

What is Diabetes?

The medical definition of Diabetes Mellitus – 

it’s a heterogeneous group of diseases, characterized by a chronic state of hyperglycemia ( abnormally high sugar/glucose level in blood), resulting from a diversity of aetiologies, environmental and genetic, acting jointly. 

In simple terms, Diabetes mellitus is a state in which our body has abnormally high levels of glucose /sugar in the blood. The reasons for this vary from person to person.

One of the important reasons for diabetes is defective production or action of insulin. 

World Diabetes day is celebrated on the 14th of November every year. 

Diabetes in different languages!

Tamil –  commonly called as சர்க்கரை நோய்(Carkkarai nōy)

Hindi –  मधुमेह  (madhumeh )

Malayalam – പ്രമേഹം (pramēhaṁ)

What is Insulin?

Insulin is a hormone which is produced by a part of your pancreas ( Beta cells of the islets of Langerhans present in the pancreas )

It has a vital role –  it acts like a key for the glucose from the blood to enter into the cell.

For some cells, like cells of the Brain, don’t need this key. But most of our body cells, including skeletal muscle cells, are dependent on insulin for its glucose uptake.

Therefore, this hormone’s deficiency will result in an increased blood glucose level, but on the other hand, glucose deficit cells. 

Types of Diabetes

Diabetes is an “ice-berg” disease. There are still many mysteries about this topic, and various studies are being carried out.

Based on the current data available, the condition is classified into:

  1. Diabetes mellitus(DM)

1.a type 1 Diabetes Mellitus- A most severe form of DM. is usually seen in people less than 30 years. The defect here is the amount of insulin produced. There will be literally no insulin present in the body. 

1.b type 2 Diabetes Mellitus – much more common than type 1 DM. Most common in middle-aged individuals. The defect here is insulin sensitivity.  

1.c Malnutrition Related DM (MRDM)

1.d other types (secondary to pancreatic, hormonal, drug-induced, genetic and other abnormalities)

2. Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT)- people at the border/ risk of developing diabetes

3. . Gestational DM( GDM)- diabetic state observed in a pregnant woman, who had a normal blood sugar level before her pregnancy 

What are the causes of Diabetes?

According to studies, it can’t be stated that only one “thing” causes diabetes. Many factors contribute to diabetes. 

  • Insulin deficiency 
  • Pancreatic disorders
  • Defects information of insulin 
  • Decreased insulin sensitivity
  • Genetic factors 
  • Auto-immunity

Other factors related to a person include: 

  • Age of the person
  • Sex
  • Obesity 
  • In the case of females; gestational diabetes
  • Lifestyle
  • Diet
  • Alcohol
  • Viral infections

The normal blood glucose level 

Normal blood glucose level or normal blood sugar level varies with regard to time of consumption of food. 

Tests for Diabetes:

Blood glucose test, HbA1c level, oral glucose tolerance test. The needs of the tests depend on the patient.  

Therefore there are three types of tests for blood glucose:

  • Random- blood sample for glucose test taken at anytime 
  • Fasting- a blood sample is taken for blood glucose testing at least eight hours of fasting and is usually taken in the morning before having any food.
  • Postprandial- blood sample taken for blood glucose testing at least 2 hrs to 1and half hours after food.

Normal values of blood sugar: 

  1. Random blood sugar level – should be below 200mg/dl
  2. Fasting blood glucose level- should be below 100mg/dl
  3. 2-hour postprandial blood glucose level – should be below 140mg/dl 

Pre-diabetes state:

  1.  Fasting blood glucose level- between 100- 125 mg/dl
  2. 2 hour postprandial blood glucose level – between 140-199 mg/dl 

Diabetic state :

  1. Random blood sugar level – above 200 mg/dl
  2. Fasting blood glucose level- above 126 mg/dl 
  3. 2-hour postprandial blood glucose level – above 200mg/dl 

HbA1c level

This level is checked to know about the recent changes(past 2-3 months) in blood glucose levels. It’s a useful tool to monitor blood glucose levels of people with diabetes. 

  • Normal: Below 6.0%
  • Prediabetes: 6.0 to 6.4%
  • Diabetes: 6.5% or over

 The American Diabetes Association recommends that the following people be screened for diabetes:

  • Anyone with a body mass index higher than 25 (23 for Asian-Americans), regardless of age, 
  • Anyone older than age 45 
  • Any woman who has had gestational diabetes, 
  • Anyone who has been diagnosed with prediabetes

What are the signs and symptoms of Diabetes?

There is a general set of findings noted in undiagnosed diabetic patients.

One of the first signs of diabetes is

  •  frequent urination (because of this extreme thirst)  
  • Tiredness
  •  High appetite,
  •  vision changes, 
  • unexplained weight loss, 
  • numbness or tingling sensation of the hands or legs,
  •  dry skin.

Complications of Diabetes:

  • kidney failure
  • nerve damage
  • retinopathies
  • heart diseases
  • stroke
Diabetes complications

Treatment for Diabetes:


Lifestyle modifications and exercise can control the initial stage of diabetes or pre-diabetic condition. It’s said to reduce the rate of incidence of type 2 DM by 35-58 %

The treatment also varies according to the type of diabetes a person has. 

For example, an insulin supplement is recommended in type 1 DM.

Prevention of Diabetes:


“Prevention is better than cure.”

There is no cure for diabetes as such. You can maintain the blood sugar level and, therefore, the symptoms and complications of diabetes. 

REGULAR EXERCISE and BALANCED DIET are the only secret ingredients to maintain your diabetic state.

Diet – fruits and vegetables with low sugar content and good fiber content are advised to diabetic patients.

  • Bananas are not a very specific fruit recommended to diabetics, specifically like it’s considered in general. One banana can be taken once a day.  
  • A balanced diet is important to be followed.

Regular exercise, like walking and yoga, are recommended to control blood sugar levels.

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