What is Diabetes? | Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

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What is Diabetes? | Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

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Diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) and disordered metabolism resulting from low levels of the hormone insulin (pancreas not producing insulin in type 1 diabetes) or abnormal insulin resistance (cells not responding to insulin in type 2 diabetes)Without proper management, it can lead to a buildup of sugars in the blood and cause serious complications such as heart disease and stroke.   

What Causes Diabetes? 

The common characteristic of all types of diabetes is the fact that they cause the affected person to have too much glucose in the blood. Everyone needs some glucose for energy. Your body gets energy when carbohydrates from the food and beverages consumed are broken down. The glucose is then released into the bloodstream.   

Your body also needs the hormone insulin produced by your pancreas. Insulin is responsible for allowing glucose to get into the cells and fuel the body. The pancreas of non-diabetics can sense the presence of glucose in the blood, and is, therefore, able to release the right amounts of insulin to drive glucose into the cells. If you are diabetic, it would mean that your system does not work well. 

Different Types of Diabetes 

The 3 main types of diabetes include type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.  

Type 1 Diabetes 

Also known as insulindependent or juvenile diabetes, this is the more severe type occurring when the body fails to produce insulin. The immune system of a type 1 diabetic mistakenly attacks the cells responsible for making insulin in the pancreas and destroys them. The attack is referred to as an autoimmune disease. Although it can be diagnosed at any age, type 1 is more common in children and young adults. The patients are insulin-dependent, meaning artificial insulin has to be taken every day.  

The causes are unknown, but type 1 is believed to stem from environmental factors and genetic susceptibility. For this type, weight is not considered a risk factor. The risk factors for type 1 would include: 

  • Ecological factors: Could include exposure to viral illness linked to type 1 diabetes 
  • Family history: Parents, siblings, or immediate relatives have type 1 diabetes 
  • Geography: Some countries have high rates of the disease especially Sweden and Finland 
  • The presence of autoantibodies: If you are tested to have damaged immune system cells, there are high chances of developing type 1 diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes 

With type 2 diabetes, your body does not make or use insulin properly. While in this type your body makes insulin, the cells do not respond to it effectively. Also known as adultonset diabetes, this is the most common type strongly linked to obese people with a sedentary lifestyle. However, not every obese person has type 2 diabetes. Although it can be diagnosed in children, it is common among the older and middle-aged groups. The main focus of treatment targets exercise and diet. 

A sedentary lifestyle, genetic and environmental factors are believed to be the major players in the onset of type 2 diabetes. The risk factors include: 

  • Lack of exercise: Exercise enables you to control your weight, which would prompt your body to use glucose as energy and cause your cells to have more insulin sensitivity. 
  • Weight: Obesity increases the chance of developing type 2 diabetes 
  • Family history: If any of your parents, siblings, or immediate relatives have type 2 diabetes, you are at a high risk of developing the disease. 
  • Age: The older you get, the higher the chances of developing type 2 diabetes. It could be a result of a sedentary lifestyle, inactivity, and loss of muscle mass.  
  • Race: Asian-Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians are at high risk.  
  • High blood pressure: With a blood pressure of more than 140/90 mm of mercury, your chances of developing type 2 diabetes increase.  
  • Gestational diabetes: Developing gestational diabetes when pregnant predisposes you to type 2 diabetes in the future.  
  • Abnormal triglyceride and cholesterol levels: Low HDL –high-density lipoprotein levels expose you to type 2 diabetes risk. 

Gestational Diabetes 

This type is common during pregnancy and often disappears after delivery. However, developing gestational diabetes increases your risk of type 2 diabetes.  

During the pregnancy period, your placenta releases hormones designed to sustain the pregnancy. The hormones cause the cells in your body to resist insulin. In response, the pancreas then produces more insulin to counteract the resistance. Sometimes, however, the pancreas gives up, causing little glucose to penetrate the cells and leaves much of it in the blood. This then results in gestational diabetes. The risk factors include: 

  • Family history: If a close family member has type 2 diabetes, you are at risk of developing gestational diabetes.  
  • Age: Pregnant women aged 25 and above are at a high risk 
  • Weight: Too much weight during pregnancy exposes you to gestational diabetes

Uncontrolled gestational diabetes can lead to the death of the baby before or shortly after birth. The mother may also suffer from preeclampsia characterized by high blood pressure and swelling in the legs. 


Poor management of diabetes exposes you to higher risk of complications. Most of the complications could be life-threatening. All types of diabetes increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, nerve damage (neuropathy), kidney damage, retinopathy, skin conditions such as bacterial and fungal infections, hearing impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, depression and foot damage such as infections which could eventually result in limb amputation 

The Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes 

The symptoms of diabetes vary depending on the elevation of blood glucose. If you have prediabetes or even a type 2, you are likely to miss the symptoms during the onset of the disease. Symptoms are more apparent and severe in Type 1. Here are some of the signs that could signal the presence of diabetes. 

  • Frequent urination 
  • Increased thirst 
  • Hunger pangs  
  • Unexplained loss of weight 
  • Ketones in the urine 
  • Irritability 
  • Fatigue 
  • Slow-healing sores 
  • Frequent infections

Diabetes Treatment 

The goal of treating diabetes is to achieve low glucose levels that is within the normal range. Type 1 is treated with insulin, a low carb diet, and exercise. In type 2, weight reduction, proper nutrition, and exercise are the first treatment measures. Should they fail, medications are prescribed to stabilize the elevated levels of blood glucose. In cases where the medications also fail, insulin may be initiated.  

Diabetic people are also likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, the two ingredients of a heightened level of blood glucose. In such a situation, it is essential to talk to a counselor to better cope with your condition.  

Because the complications of uncontrolled diabetes can be severe including kidney disease and stroke, it is vital to manage your condition accordingly.  

What Clothing Features Should Diabetics Look For?

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What Clothing Features Should Diabetics Look For?

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According to the World Health Organization, diabetes could be the 7th leading cause of death across the world by 2030. Worse still, the statistics show that the number of Americans with diabetes could record a rise of up to 1 in 3 by 2050. 

Because the stakes are already too high and the number of affected people devastating, there are possible ways of alleviating the symptoms of diabetes and perhaps even reach a cure. People living with diabetes have a lot to overcome. Maintaining an active lifestyle and keeping up with treatment plans are some of them. Type 1 diabetics, for instance, administer treatment through wearing an insulin pump or injecting insulin into their skin. Although combining exercise, the right diet, and oral medication can at times be sufficient for some diabetics, injections may still be required. 

Just because you are diagnosed with prediabetes or diabetes, it does not mean that you cannot start pumping the breaks. As the levels of your blood sugars begin to climb up to dangerous levels, you can embrace various lifestyle changes to get them trickling down. Let’s start with what you wear every day. For many, fashion may not come across as a major concern, but for diabetics it does. This is where proper diabetes clothing comes in. For people with diabetes, deciding what to wear each morning can be complicated. Look for diabetic clothing products with protective sleeves, arms and leg protectors for improved circulation.   

Diabetic Foot Problems and what to Wear 

Understand that poorly controlled blood glucose can greatly contribute to poor circulation. This can then cause major damages in various parts of your body especially the vessels and nerves that go to your feet. Neuropathy is a condition that sets in when nerves are damaged. Diabetic neuropathy causes a lack of feeling in the feet, making it difficult for you to realize a cut or an injury. Because diabetics suffer from poor circulation, cuts take too much time to heal.  Left untreated, an injury or a cut can result in a dangerous infection that could lead to amputation. The following are some of the foot problems diabetics suffer from: 

  • Corns 
  • Calluses 
  • Bunions 
  • Gangrene  
  • Fungal infections 

Although many people do not consider diabetic shoes and socks important, they play a crucial role in promoting health and preventing complications associated with diabetes. Wearing improper footwear can lead to painful foot ulcers if you are suffering from diabetes. Wearing the wrong footwear causes nerve damage which can then change the form of your feet. If you have diabetes, you are at risk of developing a deformity that can lead to inward bending of the toenails, referred to as hammertoe.  

Diabetic Shoes can Prevent Amputations 

For people living with diabetes, there is no perfect footwear, but there are shoe designs that can help delay or accelerate the onset of ulcers. When shopping, look for shoes that are not too loose or too tight. You can only keep your feet healthy by wearing well-fitting shoes. Features to look for include: 

  • Leather, suede, or canvas material 
  • Lightweight shoes 
  • Shock-absorbing sole 
  • Shoes with laces for easier loosening or tightening 
  • Solid back for better support 

Shoes a diabetic must avoid include: 

  • Unfitting shoes – These could injure your feet 
  • Pointed toes – These restrict circulation 
  • Shoes lacking arch support – These could cause tissue breakdown in your feet 

If you have diabetes but need to wear heels, ensure they have a roundedtoe style, must be below 2 inches, and should be worn sparingly.  

Who should Wear Diabetic Socks?

Diabetic socks are purely designed for healthy blood circulation. Some are moisture-wicking, others non-elastic, and do not constrict the foot. Because they are light and breathable, they can prevent the development of clots, which is great for pregnant women with gestational diabetes. 

How do you know if diabetic socks are meant for you? If you experience the following: 

  • Feet sensitive to changes in temperature 
  • Constant swelling of feet 
  • Nerve damages 
  • Frequent injuries on your feet 

Diabetic socks would be very beneficial for your feet. 

If you do not have any of these symptoms, any sock would suffice. Do note that you should avoid very tight or loose socks, and those with uncomfortable seams. 

Which are the Best Diabetic Socks?  

Socks designed for diabetics prevent blisters and reduce the pressure exerted to the legs and feet. The socks you choose should be seamless and non-elastic for maximum comfort.  Because diabetes exposes your feet to swelling, the non-elasticity feature should help prevent constriction.  

The seamless feature minimizes neurological pain and friction to the nerves. Wearing tight socks can lead to limited circulation in a diabetic person. Socks with the right features play a crucial role in preventing future amputation or even death resulting from an injured foot.  

White socks are also better options as it would allow you to spot blood from an injury quickly, especially if you have nerve damage. 

Should Diabetics Wear Slippers? 

Diabetics can wear slippers but with limitations. First, the choice of slippers a person with diabetes uses should offer more than just comfort. Diabetic slippers should contain cushioning to provide support to the knees, back, and the hips. Switching from shoes to slippers when indoors can help your feet to dry and prevent possible infections.  

Because your feet shed skin cells constantly, purchase a pair of new slippers each year. The dead cells are microscopic and tend to build up in your sandals. Because diabetics are prone to nerve damage meaning they feel pain when it is too late, they should opt for closed or open-back slippers to protect their feet from sharp objects.  

If you have diabetes and do not know the clothing to wear, you might want to get some insight from Natalie Balmain, a budding fashion designer living with type 1 diabetes. There are many styles and designs of clothing to choose from. Whichever brand or size you prefer, you could buy just one pair first to see how you like it. 

What are your Socks Made of?

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What are your Socks Made of?

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Your feet support the entire weight of your body and contain multiple sweat glands. It means your feet need to be kept dry under regulated temperatures. During the manufacturing process of socks, there are two main approaches incorporated to manage moisture. The first one is the insulation approach designed to reduce perspiration and the second one is a devised method of transporting moisture from the body.  

Common Sock Yarns 

The process of manufacturing socks has advanced. Today, there are dyes, fiber blending, and more. If you are diabetic, your doctor must have emphasized the need to wear clothes that encourage circulation, and a knee length sock comes in handy. Because there are a lot of materials used in making socks, it is crucial that you choose a comfortable material 


Cotton is 100 percent natural fiber with a soft and smooth feel. Even after repeated washing, this strong material stays in shape.  It is less likely to shrink, is biodegradable, breathable, and retains color. Although it can withstand wear and tear, and abrasion, it can also hold moisture wellIt soaks up uneven amounts of water, meaning it is not the best for people in sports. 

Cotton also tends to heat up, creating the perfect environment for bacteria and blisters. If you are in sports, avoid 100 percent cotton socks. The types of cotton mostly used in socks include: 

  • Recycled Cotton: This is normally spun from scraps that would have otherwise been discarded after cutting or weaving. 
  • Organic Cotton: This is cotton grown with the absence of fertilizers and pesticides. The method used to produce this type of cotton is believed to give room for biodiversity.  
  • Combed Cotton: This is combed cotton that leaves straight and long fibers behind. It is one of the most popular and expensive.  
  • Mercerized Cotton: This cotton goes through extra processing to offer softness and luster and to also intensify dyed colors. 


Wool is mostly used in cold climates and can also absorb moisture. Although prices depend on the type of wool used to manufacture the socks, quality is determined by the diameter and the length of the fibers. Finer and longer fibers are warmer. Understand that wool is anti-microbial, meaning it is resistant to odor.   

Merino wool is the most common type. It is a fine grade originally derived from the merino sheep. What makes it different from other types is its luxurious softness and comfort. This type of wool is shrinktreated allowing it to hold its shape and size. It also does not itch.  


Because it is excellent at wicking moisture away from your body, it is mostly used in the sports and medical industries. Unlike cotton, this material keeps the feet dry thereby preventing the occurrence of blisters during sports. With this material, thinner socks can be createdIt is a thin yet durable material that takes up very little room in your shoes. Since it is also resistant to stain, it is easy to maintain 


This is a popular polymer that is strong yet versatile and hard. It is bulky and thin often used in combination with other materials to produce stretchy and durable socks. This material is mostly used in modern socks to offer the stretchy feature needed in socks.  

Your Socks Have Dye 

Dyes used in manufacturing socks are many and different. The process of dyeing happens on the fiber which is then woven into socks. The most common dyes include: 

  • Natural DyesNatural dyes are derived from wild plants and natural materials. For a saturated color to be achieved, environmental materials are used in high quantities 
  • Low-Impact Dyes: These dyes do not contain toxic substances, have high water absorption rates, and are rinsed less, meaning they are great when you want to save water. 
  • Mordant: A mordant is used in dyes to enable them to bond chemically to the fiber. Without it, the molecules just lie on the surface of the fiber and could be rinsed off. It is an inorganic substance great at preparing and opening up the fiber chemically to allow it to bond. Sodium chloride, aluminum salts, tannic acid, and alum are the most commonly used mordants. 

When choosing socks, find out about the fabric content. Most are made from a blend of fabrics. Here, learn the most common fibers and techniques used to make your socks. 


These are fibers extracted from natural plants. It is a breathable and soft fiber with natural sheen on the surface and feels like cashmere or silk. Bamboo is naturally microbial, hypoallergenic, and durable.   


Although it is man-made, acrylic is highly durable offering warmth and softness. Acrylic is an all versatile fabric that retains elasticity amidst pulling.  


Cashmere is produced from the soft hair of Cashmere goat and offers natural and light-weight insulation. Because it is comfortable and soft, it considered a luxury fiber.  


Also referred to as polypropylene, it is a high-tech synthetic that repels water. It is commonly used alongside other layers to help in wicking away moisture from the body. Out of all manmade fibers, cashmere is the lightest.  

Most Breathable and Anti-Odor Socks 

With the feet containing more than 250,000 sweat glands, anyone can sweat. Normally, excessive sweating in the feet is attributed to hyperhidrosis. It can also result from hormonal changes and medications. However, wearing thick socks and those with poor fabric can cause sweating in your feet.   

Choose socks with moisture wicking properties to ensure sweat is absorbed from your skin and released into the air. Such socks can help keep your feet comfortable and prevent bad odor and the growth of bacteria. Olefin, polyester, and merino wool are the best moisture wicking materials.  

If you, at some point, have to treat blisters in the middle of a hike because of your wrong socks, then you know you can’t scrimp on that one piece of gear. Depending on what you want to do in your socks, knowing what they are made of can help you make a perfect choice.