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Diabetes-How Sweet It Is
Diabetes, or Diabetes Mellitus, is a disease affecting over 100-million Americans. While
diabetes has become manageable through intravenous treatments of insulin, there is no cure. If
left untreated, this condition can have serious complications leading to retinopathy and blindness,
nerve and kidney damage, heart disease and stroke. The CDC
reports “People with diabetes are at increased risk of serious health complications including
premature death, vision loss, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and amputation of toes, feet, or
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease affecting blood glucose and insulin. People with diabetes have higher than
average levels of blood sugar; this is where energy comes from when you eat food and your body
digests it. The pancreas then secretes a hormone called insulin to manage blood sugar and assist
the cells in metabolizing it into energy. Unfortunately, diabetes impairs the production of insulin
which affects the amount of sugar in the blood stream and impeding its delivery to cells.
Diabetes is often associated with food intake and obesity, and has been coined, “a touch of
sugar” in its early stages. There are three common types of diabetes, type 1, type 2 and
gestational diabetes which occurs during pregnancy. Type 1 diabetes is often severe and less
manageable than the others, forcing a permanent treatment plan of insulin injections. It
negatively impacts the immune system and kidneys and requires daily management to prevent
complication and death.
Type 2 diabetes is most common, but also most manageable, and if caught in the pre-diabetes
stage, can even be reversed. Unlike type 1 diabetes, individuals with type 2 diabetes may not be
put on a strict treatment plan of intravenous insulin. Depending on the intensity of the disease,
patients may only be required to change and manage eating habits and nutrition.
What Causes Diabetes?
Diabetes is caused by different triggers and biological data. For patients with type 1 diabetes, the
cause is usually the immune system. Your immune system is designed to protect the body from
intruding bacteria and infection, but if malfunctioning can attack your body instead. If the
immune system defects and breaks down the beta cells in the pancreas which make insulin, type
1 diabetes ensues. In this way, diabetes type 1 can be caused for hereditary reasons or due to
unforeseen viruses. It is common in children, and currently there is no way to prevent it. The American Diabetes
Association writes, “Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and
was previously known as juvenile diabetes”
Type 2 diabetes can also be caused by genetics but is most commonly associated with lifestyle
choices. Lack of physical activity and poor eating habits which lead to obesity also lead to type 2
diabetes. Too much sugar and not enough exercise to metabolize the sugar causes insulin
resistance in the body, making it difficult for the body to do its job and break down the sugar
being consumed. Insulin resistance begins with complications in the liver and tissue cells of the
body. They slowly become unable to properly manage insulin, making it difficult for sugar to be
absorbed by cells. The pancreas tries to balance this inconsistency by overproducing insulin, but
eventually it can’t keep up with supply and demand and sugar levels get too high.
Pacific islanders, African Americans, those of Asian descent, natives of Hawaii, Native
Americans, and Alaskan natives are at higher risk of developing type of diabetes genetically.
What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes?
Symptoms of diabetes include fatigue and dizziness, sudden weight loss, tingling limbs and
extremities, lasting unhealed wounds and sores, a rise in hunger and thirst, and frequent
urination. Symptoms of type 1 diabetes are more noticeable and severe, while some individuals
with type 2 diabetes may not experience any symptoms for some time. In fact, sufferers of type 2
diabetes can go undiagnosed for years until health problems ensue.
If you have experienced any of the above symptoms, or diabetes type 1 or type 2 run in your
family, speak to your doctor about getting tested. He or she will check your blood sugars through
a series of tests including urine analysis and blood analysis. The results will show higher than
normal levels of blood glucose, after which further testing may take place before you are
diagnosed, and treatment begins.
The earlier diabetes is diagnosed and treated, the more manageable it becomes and the less likely
it is that complications will arise. There may not be a cure for diabetes, but many individuals
with this disease go on to lead normal and healthy lifestyles.