Diabetes is a growing problem in our country. With our population at an all time high in weight gain and a low in health care, the problem is only growing. Diabetes (or Diabetes Mellitus) is a disease characterized by a malfunctioning metabolism and a high blood sugar level. The result can be low levels of insulin or abnormal insulin resistance. This mixed with inadequate levels of insulin secretion results in diabetes.
Our metabolism is the way our bodies use digested food for energy and growth. Most food that is processed through our bodies is broken down by digestive juices into a sugar called glucose. Glucose is the fuel our bodies run on. When we eat, and our food is processed, the pancreas is supposed to produce the right amount of glucose from our blood automatically and release the right amount of insulin into our blood. In people with diabetes, little to no insulin is produced or the body’s cells don’t respond correctly to the insulin that is produced. Therefore the glucose builds up and overflows into the urine and passes out of the body. This is how the body loses its main source of fuel even though the bloodstream contains good amounts of the natural glucose.
The three types of diabetes
There are three types of diabetes, type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. Each type has a different cause and different severity of symptoms. But all forms of diabetes are dangerous if not treated. With proper management though, people with diabetes can live a long, healthy, normal life.
Type 1 Diabetes
People who have type 1 are known as insulin-dependent. Type 1 diabetes mellitus is typically found in children and young adults. It is also termed juvenile diabetes. It is the most common form of diabetes in children with ninety to ninety-five percent of carriers being under 16. In the last 30 years the number of juvenile diabetes had increased three times over and in Europe and the US. It is believed that a mixture of genetics and environmental factors are what triggers juvenile diabetes. But the majority of children don’t have a family history of diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease, which means the bodies own defense system attacks the body’s tissues or organs. In the case of type 1 diabetes, the system attacks the insulin producing cells and destroys them. Therefore the pancreas can produce little to no insulin. These people are in need of daily injections of insulin to live. Five to ten percent of diabetes cases are type 1 in the US. Type 1 diabetes accounts for five to ten percent of diabetes cases in the United States. A person who is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes must receive insulin shots daily to replace the insulin the body is not producing properly, along with careful blood glucose monitoring.
Scientists are not exactly sure why the body attacks the immune system and the production of insulin, but it is believed that both genetics and viruses are involved. Type 1 diabetes is most commonly found in children and young adults, but can appear at any age and symptoms can develop over a short period of time. Symptoms include increased thirst and urination, extreme fatigue, weight loss and constant hunger.
If a person with type 1 diabetes is not diagnosed and treated with insulin, there is a risk of that person slipping into a diabetic coma that may prove life threatening. The key when first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes is to arm yourself with information. Being diagnosed is not the end of the world. In fact, most people go on to live normal, healthy lives as long as they stay aware of their condition and continue to treat it. Doctors should consider the possibility of diabetes in children who have unexplained stomach pains for a few weeks, along with the typical symptoms. If you believe your child may be experiencing these symptoms you should schedule them for a thorough examination and tell your doctor what you suspect your child may have. Be sure to tell them about any and all symptoms your child may be experiencing.
After being diagnosed with diabetes, it is important to maintain your general health paying special attention to the care you give your eyes, feet and skin as well as your heart and oral health. This basic care could prevent complications brought on by diabetes later in life. Other recommendations are to stop smoking and reduce the amount of alcohol you consume.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form found in the US. Ninety to ninety-five percent of people diagnosed with diabetes have this type. Usually developed later in life, it is most commonly diagnosed in people over the age of fifty-five, but in many cases as young as forty or even younger. This is because eighty percent of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are overweight. With obesity at an all time high, the diagnoses for type 2 diabetes is also at an all time high.
In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas is still producing insulin, but for some unknown reason, the body is not able to utilize it effectively. As a result, just as in type 1 diabetes, type 2 people develop a dangerous buildup of glucose in the blood and the body is not able to utilize it for fuel. People who have type 2 diabetes may see their symptoms develop over time. They are not usually as noticeable as the type 1 symptoms.
Symptoms include fatigue, frequent urination, especially throughout the night hours, unusual thirst, weight loss, frequent infections and slow healing sores. In fact, sores may never heal and if not treated it is common for people to have limbs amputated. This usually occurs in the legs, feet and toes. Also as with type 1, if the symptoms go untreated and insulin is not administered when necessary, the patient runs the risk of slipping into a diabetic coma, which can be fatal. It is important if you have any symptoms of type 1 or 2 diabetes you speak with a health professional and get tested.
Gestational diabetes is a disorder in which women that previously did not carry diabetes test positive for high blood glucose levels during their pregnancy.
Though not uncommon, it is thought that anywhere between three and ten percent of pregnant women are diagnosed with gestational diabetes sometime during their pregnancy. But just what does this diagnosis mean to the health and welfare of the mother and her unborn child? Since no specific cause has been identified for gestational diabetes, scientists don’t know how to prevent it. The closest they have come to understanding is that it is believed that hormones produced during pregnancy reduce a woman’s sensitivity to insulin and the result is high blood sugar levels.
Every pregnant woman is tested for gestational diabetes during her prenatal care visits because generally there are very few symptoms. If the mother has gestational diabetes, babies are at a higher risk for complications. These are typically growth abnormalities and low blood sugar. The good thing is that gestational diabetes is completely reversible and women who otherwise have good control over their glucose levels can decrease the risk of these birth problems. In fact, women who can keep their gestational diabetes under complete control are known to give birth to perfectly healthy babies.
The down side is women who develop gestational diabetes during their pregnancy now run a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes post-pregnancy. Some children are prone to develop childhood obesity and develop type 2 diabetes later in life. Pregnant women who develop gestational diabetes are generally treated with diet modification and exercise, but in some extreme cases they are administered an anti-diabetic drug, such as insulin. The goal of treatment is to reduce the risks for both m other and child without endangering either.
With obesity levels being at an all time high, the epidemic of type 2 diabetes is growing at an alarming rate, and will only get worse. Not knowing is the worst because risks of untreated diabetes puts us at a terrible risk of complications including but not limited to blindness, amputations and ultimately death. The stickler is, that type 2 diabetes is almost completely preventable. Doctor’s say eat less, eat better and exercise. The numbers show just how many Americans are currently overweight.
Statistically, people are now living longer, and it has been on the rise for years. But this will not continue if type 2 diabetes is not put under control. We are a gluttonous society and ultimately it is affecting how we live and how long we live. And unfortunately, the diabetes epidemic is not just a US problem. It is spreading worldwide with epidemic reports in Asia, the Middle East and the Caribbean.
It is estimated that by 2025, the number of diabetics worldwide will rise to 380 million. And diabetes is now affecting more of the young and middle-aged population in developing countries between the ages of 40 and 59.
All too often we get sick but ignore the symptoms we may be feeling, shrugging them off to a cold, stress from work, or just not feeling well. There are certain symptoms that shouldn’t be ignored if they develop. These symptoms could lead to blindness, amputation of limbs, coma or even death.
Symptoms of type 1 diabetes often come on suddenly and are severely dramatic. The extra stress of diabetes can lead to something called diabetic ketoacidosis. Symptoms of ketoacidosis may include nausea and vomiting, which may also lead to dehydration and serious problems with the blood levels of potassium. This could lead to a diabetic coma and ultimately death. Other symptoms of diabetes may include extreme fatigue. We all get tired at times, but diabetes triggers a more severe fatigue than normal. People with diabetes also experience unexplained weight loss. This is because they are unable to process many of the calories they consume. Losing sugar and water in the urine also contributes to the weight loss. Extreme thirst is another symptom of diabetes. Diabetes develops high blood sugar levels and the body tries to compensate by diluting the blood, which translates to our brain that we are thirsty.
With this is also excessive urination. It is another way our bodies have of getting rid of the extra sugar in our system. But this can also lead to dehydration. One of the hardest symptoms to deal with is poor wound healing. Wounds heal slowly, if at all when the carrier has diabetes. This along with infections that are not easily remedied can attribute to ulcers and loss of limbs. Diabetes Management
As of 2007, there is no cure for either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. This may seem like a dim outlook for many people, but the fact is that even though there is no cure, there certainly are ways to manage your diabetes. Proper management can give you many years of healthy living.
Diabetes management starts with a visit to your doctor. first, finding out you have diabetes, what type you have then arming yourself with as much information as possible about the diabetes you are diagnosed with. All management begins with controlling the glucose cycle.
The glucose cycle is affected by two factors, entry of glucose into the bloodstream and blood levels of insulin to control the transport out. Your glucose levels are very sensitive to both diet and exercise, so change in either should first be discussed with your physician. Proper management of diabetes can be very intrusive to the patient. Proper management requires a complete lifestyle change and frequent, sometimes multi-daily checks of glucose in the blood.
It can change as people grow and develop and no two cases are ever really the same. Today it is easier to measure the blood sugar level. Glucose meters are readily available and are quite easy to use with a little practice and patience. With a small drop of blood to the testing strip attached to the glucose meter, the user is given the number, which represents their blood sugar level. This in turn will let the user know if and when insulin is needed.