“The longing for sweets is really a yearning for love or ‘sweetness’.” ― Marion Woodman
If taking care of blood sugar was as simple as falling in love…
Blood glucose, or blood sugar as it is more commonly referred to, is the body’s main source of energy and comes from the food we eat. The pancreas helps create the hormone insulin and moves the glucose from the blood in our body cells, which is used for energy.
Sometimes our bodies do not make enough or any insulin, or use insulin ineffectively. Glucose then stays in our blood and doesn’t reach the cells and over time the body has built up too much glucose which, if untreated, can damage nerves, eyes, kidneys and other organs. Even though there is no cure, there are steps that can be taken to manage diabetes and stay healthy.
Let’s start off by taking a look at the different types of diabetes:
Potential diabetes risks should be discussed with a doctor. If you are potentially at risk, have your blood sugar tested and follow your doctor’s advice for managing your blood sugar.
Symptoms are caused by rising blood sugar.
Symptoms in men
Symptoms in women
In addition to the general symptoms:
Symptoms of type 1 diabetes
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes
Symptoms of gestational diabetes
Anyone who has symptoms of diabetes, or is at risk should be tested. Women are routinely tested for gestational diabetes during their second or third trimesters of pregnancy.
Prediabetes and diabetes
Doctors use the following blood tests:
Your doctor will test your blood sugar levels between week 24 and 28 of your pregnancy.
The earlier you get diagnosed with diabetes, the sooner you can start treatment.
Different causes are associated with each type of diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes
Certain factors increase your risk for diabetes.
You’re more likely to get type 1 diabetes if:
Your risk for type 2 diabetes increases if you:
Your risk for gestational diabetes increases if you:
High blood sugar damages organs and tissues throughout your body. The higher your blood sugar is and the longer you live with it, the greater your risk for complications.
Complications associated with diabetes include:
Uncontrolled gestational diabetes can lead to problems that affect both the mother and baby.
Complications affecting the baby can include:
The mother can develop complications such as high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes. She may also require caesarean delivery. The mother’s risk of gestational diabetes in future pregnancies also increases.
Doctors treat diabetes with a few different medications. Some of these drugs are taken orally, while others are available as injections.
Healthy eating is a central part of managing diabetes. In some cases, changing your diet may be enough to control the disease.
Many other diabetes risk factors are controllable. Most diabetes prevention strategies involve making simple adjustments to your diet and fitness routine.
Type 1 isn’t preventable because it’s caused by a problem with the immune system.
Some causes of type 2 diabetes, such as genes or age, aren’t under our control either. Yet if you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes, here are a few things you can do to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes:
Women who’ve never had diabetes can suddenly develop gestational diabetes in pregnancy. Hormones produced by the placenta can make your body more resistant to the effects of insulin.
Some women who had diabetes before they conceived carry it with them into pregnancy. This is called pre-gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes should go away after you deliver, but it does significantly increase your risk for getting diabetes later.
About half of women with gestational diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 to 10 years of delivery, according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF).
Having diabetes during your pregnancy can also lead to complications for your new born, such as jaundice or breathing problems.
If you’re diagnosed with pre-gestational or gestational diabetes, you’ll need special monitoring to prevent complications.
Children can get both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Controlling blood sugar is especially important in young people, because the disease can damage important organs such as the heart and kidneys.
Visit Diabetes South Africa’s website for more information, recipes, support groups, etc.
Accessed November 2020
Last reviewed 2018