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Weight Gain Due To Unmanaged Diabetes

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Weight gain due to unmanaged diabetesDiabetes mellitus is an endocrine disorder characterized by decreased insulin secretion or decreased action of insulin at the end organs. It presents in various ways. It may be hereditary and present in early childhood or it may arise as a result of poor lifestyle practices. 

Table Of Contents


What is Diabetes mellitus?

Diabetes mellitus is an endocrine disorder characterized by decreased insulin secretion or decreased action of insulin at the end organs. It presents in various ways. It may be hereditary and present in early childhood or it may arise as a result of poor lifestyle practices.

Can diabetes be cured?

Most newly diagnosed diabetic patients and most patients with a family history of diabetes mellitus are worried whether diabetes can be cured or not.

Diabetes mellitus is a condition rather than a disease. Its cure depends on the age of onset, the severity of the disease, the level of hyperglycemia, the extent of complications and the co-morbid conditions of the patient. It can definitely be controlled with modern anti-diabetic agents but cannot be completely cured.

Controlling Diabetes Mellitus

Various anti-diabetic agents are available in injectable and oral formulations to control diabetes mellitus. Diabetic patients should monitor their blood glucose levels regularly which should ideally be less than at least 140 mg/dL.

Blood glucose levels can fluctuate throughout the day and hence another blood test known as Hemoglobin A1c is considered apt to know the level of control. This value should ideally be less than 7. It gives the approximate level of diabetic control in the past 3 months.

Uncontrolled diabetes

Strict control of glucose levels in diabetes is very important to prevent complications. There may be many reasons for uncontrolled or unmanaged diabetes:

  • Lack of proper medical attention
  • Not taking the anti-diabetic drugs prescribed
  • Non-compliance of prescription drugs
  • Not taking anti-diabetic medications at the appropriate time specified
  • Presence of other conditions which exaggerate diabetes
  • Intake of other drugs which cause hyperglycemia
  • Taking multiple prescriptions from multiple medical practitioners

Symptoms of uncontrolled diabetes

The usual signs of diabetes are exaggerated in uncontrolled diabetes mellitus. The following are the most common symptoms of unmanaged diabetes:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive hunger
  • Frequent urination
  • Blurry vision or frequent change of glasses
  • Increased appetite but no weight gain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent infections
  • Bad or unusual breath
  • Genital itching
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Blood glucose monitor reveals excessive blood glucose levels

Sudden weight loss in diabetes

Due to deficiency of insulin, the body’s cells are unable to utilize glucose for energy. As a result, fat and muscle are burnt for energy which results in unexplained and unexpected weight loss in patients with early diabetes mellitus.

Sudden weight gain in diabetes

Weight gain in diabetic patients can actually be good! It may sound ridiculous but weight gain is an indication that the body is utilizing glucose, proteins and fats in the correct manner.

The goal of anti-diabetic therapy is to control hyperglycemia and the complications of diabetes. One inevitable side-effect of insulin which is the main drug used for the treatment of diabetes, is weight gain.

With the help of insulin, the body’s cells are able to utilize glucose more effectively and hence the net effect is a build-up of weight.

Weight gain may also be caused by intake of other oral anti-diabetic agents.

Uncontrolled diabetes and weight gain

While weight gain may be a sign that the body is responding to insulin therapy, many patients are already obese and this may impair the actions of anti-diabetic drugs.

Weight management and loss of weight in obese diabetic patients is very important because such patients may have a condition called insulin resistance. In insulin resistance, which usually occurs in Type 2 diabetes mellitus, the muscles and other cells are non-responsive to the action of insulin though adequate insulin may be available.

In such patients, weight loss is an essential part of the management of the disease without which diabetes cannot be controlled successfully.

How to control weight gain in diabetes

When insulin is working in a diabetic patient, as mentioned earlier, it leads to effective usage of fat, protein and carbohydrate in the form of glucose. This means that whatever glucose is available can also be stored in the form of glucagon or fat. This issue needs to be addressed to prevent excess weight gain in diabetes mellitus.

Also, good diabetic management ensures that the body is rehydrated popularly. Rehydration may lead indirectly to weight gain. That being said, the body should not be allowed to dehydrate which is more complex and risky for the patient.

The following steps may be followed to lose weight gained in diabetic patients:

Anti-diabetic drug management

Diabetic patients should always be aware of what medications they are taking and at what time. Insulin analogs are known to cause weight gain as a side effect, but the newer insulin alternatives do not have this side effect. Consult your doctor for switching over to the recent insulins.

Certain oral anti-diabetic drugs such as metformin improve insulin resistance and helps to lose weight. This drug can be taken either alone or in combination with insulin after discussion with your medical practitioner

At all times, one should never self-adjust the dosage of insulin or any other anti-diabetic drug. If you feel that a change would benefit you, then you can do so only after consultation with your doctor.

The best enemy of weight gain is exercise!

Exercising for at least 30 minutes a day for at least 5 days of the week is very important for diabetic patients. Exercise burns up excess fat and calories and causes a loss in weight. This improves insulin resistance and helps to manage diabetes effectively.

Controlling your diet controls your diabetes

Diet management is a challenge for diabetic patients. If insulin is the reason for your weight gain, then you can adjust your meal potions depending on the timing of insulin administration. Any adjustment in the dosage of anti-diabetic drugs should be done only after consultation with your prescribing doctor.

Your doctor is your best guide

Since your entire disease from diagnosis to prevention is managed by your doctor, it is always best to discuss all doubts with him. You can ask for a healthy diet or exercise plans or any changes that can be incorporated in your drug schedule to help prevent weight gain.

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