Recently my poor cat Ollie was diagnosed at the age of 14 with Type 2 Diabetes mellitus. As you can imagine this was a big shock to us, as we had no idea what had caused it and how to treat it, if at all possible.
So this blog post is about the different types of diabetes, how to spot the symptoms and treatments to both types of the illness as it is the same for our furry friends as well as us humans.
What is Diabetes Mellitus?
According to diabetes.org.uk, in the UK 2.9 million people have been diagnosed with the illness and it is estimated that another 850,000 are unaware that they have the disease.
There are two types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2.
Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus
This accounts for between 5 – 15% of those diagnosed. Type 1 diabetes is where the bodies insulin producing cells have been destroyed, this is usually from an unknown reason, but could be an autoimmune response to cells/virus or other infection.
Type 1 can appear an anytime, but usually before the age of 40 and is especially prone to happen during childhood.
Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
Type 2 the body still produces insulin but it is either not enough or it does not work properly as in the case of Insulin Resistance, where cells fail to respond to the actions of insulin.
This is the main type of diabetes with between 85-95% of all cases and usually affects people over 40 years old, but South Asian and Black people at greater risk after the age of 25.
Risk factors of Type 2 diabetes is:
- lack of exercise/sedentary lifestyle
- eating too many processed foods with poor quality fats
- family history
- high blood pressure/high cholesterol
- gestational diabetes
Insulin, what is it and why do we need it?
What are the Symptoms of Diabetes?
These are the three major symptoms of diabetes
- Excessive thirst
- Passing more urine than normal
- Increased appetite
Other symptoms can include:
- Sudden and unexplained weight loss
- Blurred vision
- extreme tiredness
- Slow healing of cuts and wounds
Complications to Diabetes:
Also known as a hypo, is a condition where your blood glucose level is below 4mmols/l. This is too low for your body to produce enough energy to carry on with normal activities.
Symptoms of hypoglycemia:
- Difficulty in speaking
How to treat a hypo – A mild case can be treated easily by eating or drinking something sugary, but serious hypoglycemia needs immediate medical attention.
Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)
Diabetic Ketoacidosis is a very serious condition, in which consistently high blood glucose levels cause the body to use stores of fat instead of the glucose from food for energy, which in turn produces an acid by-product known as ketones.
Ketones are very poisonous to the body and make your blood acidic. Your body will try to get rid of the ketones by increasing your thirst to excrete them out in your urine.
If the levels of ketones continue to increase in the body then nausea and vomiting may start, where this can lead to more dehydration causing the ketones to increase quickly to dangerous levels which if left can lead to unconsciousness which can be fatal.
To recognise the signs of ketoacidosis there are 2 main stages to the symptoms:
- Going to the toilet more frequently
- Blood glucose level of more than 15mmol/l
- Ketones in your urine
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Moderate to large levels of ketones in your urine
- Deep, rapid breathing
- Breath smelling like pear drops
- Eventual unconsciousness
Who is at risk?
Anyone who relies on administering insulin and especially during times of illness, when the body’s response to infection and illness is to release more glucose into the bloodstream and stop insulin from working properly.
This is easily done by dipping special strips into urine to check the levels, and should be checked if a blood glucose reading of 15mmols/l is found.
If ketones are found – please contact your Doctor or Diabetes specialist for immediate care