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Diabetes is a lifelong condition that affects the way the body produces or utilizes insulin. In human anatomy, an organ known as the pancreas, located right behind the stomach produces insulin. This hormone has the role to store and breakdown fat as well as glucose we get from food. Diabetes starts as a result of either the pancreas failing to produce enough insulin or the body does not respond well to the insulin being provided. In certain cases, the pancreas ends up producing no insulin at all.
There are two broad types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes occurs due to pancreatic dysfunction whereby insulin is not being produced. In this particular case, insulin injections are used to control blood glucose levels. Type 2, on the other hand, involves the body producing insulin but not in enough quantity to regulate the blood glucose levels.
Over the years, diabetes has become exceedingly common. It is a lifelong disease. Type 1 diabetes can occur before the age of 20. Type 2 is the most common kind, which can easily appear in children as well. According to the World Health Organization, the number of people with diabetes increased from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. Adults over the age of 18 who have diabetes increased by 8.5 percent in 2014. Furthermore, diabetes has been on the rise in middle income and low-income countries over the years. It is also important to note that in 2016, WHO estimated diabetes to be the 7th leading cause of death.
The risk of contracting diabetes is increasing because of the lifestyle choices people make. Following are a few of the most common risk factors:
Pre-diabetes: If your blood sugar levels are a little higher than normal, you are more likely to develop diabetes.
Obesity: Obesity is the number one cause of type 2 diabetes, especially in children. It is also common in people above the age of 40 years and the chances of getting it increase due to being overweight.
Diet: Having an unhealthy lifestyle and the excessive consumption of sugary drinks and fast food only speeds up the process of developing diabetes.
Family History and Genetics: One of the leading causes of diabetes is genetics meaning having family members who have had it.
High Blood Pressure: This only adds to the chances of developing an autoimmune condition like diabetes.
Gestational Diabetes: This type of diabetes is common in pregnant women who suffer from it during pregnancy due to hormonal changes. If a patient has suffered from it during pregnancy, it is likely they will develop it later on in life.
High Cholesterol: People who have high cholesterol levels tend to develop diabetes as well.
Lack of Exercise: Inactivity is yet another leading cause of this disease. Inactivity leads to organ dysfunction and consequently increases the chances of getting diabetes.
Depression: Mental health conditions play an important role as well. Diseases like depression are more likely to cause diabetes, especially in young adults.
Age: This is yet another factor. It is often diagnosed in people 45 years of age or older.
Type 1 diabetes has the following symptoms:
Type 2 diabetes has the same symptoms as those mentioned above. However, there may be a few others as well:
The doctor is likely to perform a complete physical exam and go through the patient’s and his/her family’s medical history.
Hemoglobin A1c Testing: This is a blood test that is used most commonly to check the glucose level in the blood. It also helps to show how well diabetes is being controlled.
Diabetes and Urine Testing: There are two very simple tests that are used to check the patient’s urine. These tests allow the doctor to check for any kidney related disease as well as whether or not the patient has a high blood sugar level.
Diabetes is a disease that does not have a cure. Once diagnosed, it is a lifelong condition that needs to be managed and monitored frequently. If neglected, it can cause heart attacks, strokes, nerve damage, kidney failure, infections, and blindness. In extreme cases, excessive nerve damage can cause limb amputations as well.
It is important to remember that early diagnosis is an absolute must and even though this condition does not have a cure; it can be managed and controlled. Blood sugar levels need to be monitored as frequently as possible. Be sure to visit your doctor and take regular checks so that adequate preventative measure can be taken before the situation escalates. Medication and insulin injections need to be taken on time and as prescribed by the doctor. A little negligence can be very dangerous when it comes to diabetes. So it is important to be careful. If you have a family history of diabetes, adopt a healthier lifestyle to reduce the chances of getting it. Doctors also prescribe exercise to help control the weight as well as the blood sugar levels. It is always beneficial to talk to a health care professional who can help the patient come up with an exercise regiment that would work for him or her.
The most important prescription your doctor will give you is to follow a healthy eating plan. A nutritious diet low in cholesterol, fats, and sugar will allow you to better manage your condition. Often times, doctors prescribe smaller portions with a variety of grains, vegetables, and fruits.
If the patient is a smoker, the doctors will suggest that they quit smoking. Smoking leads to insulin resistance in the body and is seen as a cause of type 2 diabetes. Also, if the patient has problems with blood pressure, it is important that they keep an eye on it. It is suggested to try to maintain it and not cross the 130/80 benchmark.
It is important to keep in mind that early diagnosis is the key to successfully managing diabetes. As mentioned previously, diabetes can lead to many other conditions and diseases as well. Hence, it is suggested that the patient keeps on getting tested and screened for diabetes-related diseases.
If managed and controlled properly, diabetes is a disease that does not restrict or hinder an individual from leading a normal life.