Diabetes occurs when your body cannot absorb sugar (glucose) into its cells and use it for energy. This results in extra sugar building up in your bloodstream. Poorly controlled diabetes can lead to severe consequences, causing damage to several organs and tissues in your body – including your heart, kidneys, eyes, and nerves. This article will help you to know about diabetes and ways to prevent it.
Different types of diabetes
Type 1 diabetes:
This type is an autoimmune disease, which means your body attacks itself. In this case, the cells of the pancreas that produce insulin are destroyed. Up to 10% of people who have diabetes have type 1. It is usually diagnosed in children and young adults (but can develop at any age). It used to be better known as "juvenile" diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day. Therefore, it is also called insulin-dependent diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes:
In this type, your body does not make enough insulin, or your body's cells do not usually respond to insulin. This is the most common type of diabetes. Up to 95% of people with diabetes have type 2, which generally occurs in middle-aged and older people. Other common names for type 2 include adult-onset diabetes and insulin-resistant diabetes. Your parents or grandparents may have called it "with a touch of sugar."
Some women develop this type during pregnancy, and gestational diabetes usually goes away after pregnancy. However, if you have gestational diabetes, you have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
How common is diabetes?
About 34.2 million people of all ages—about 1 in 10—have diabetes in the US. About 7.3 million adults age 18 and older (about 1 in 5) are unaware they have diabetes (less than 3% of all US adults). The number of people diagnosed with diabetes increases with age. More than 26% of adults age 65 and older (about 1 in 4) have diabetes.
Diabetes risk factors depend on the type of diabetes.
Risk factors for type 1 diabetes
Although the exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown, factors that may signal an increased risk include:
- Family history. Your risk increases if a parent or sibling has type 1 diabetes.
- Environmental factors. Circumstances such as exposure to a viral disease likely play a role in type 1 diabetes.
- Presence of damaging cells of the immune system (auto-antibodies). Sometimes family members of people with type 1 diabetes are tested for diabetes auto-antibodies. If you have these autoantibodies, you have an increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes. But not everyone who has these autoantibodies will get diabetes.
- Geography. In some countries, such as Finland and Sweden, the incidence of type 1 diabetes is higher.
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes
Scientists do not fully understand why some people develop type 2 diabetes and others do not. It is clear that certain factors increase the risk, including:
- Mass. The more fatty tissue you have, the more resistant your cells are to insulin.
- Inactivity. The less active you are, the greater your risk. Physical activity helps you control your weight, uses glucose for energy, and makes your cells more sensitive to insulin.
- Family history. Your risk increases if a parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes.
- Race or ethnicity. It's unclear why some people — including African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Asian Americans — are at higher risk.
- Age. Your risk increases as you age. This may be because you tend to exercise less, lose muscle mass and gain weight as you age. However, type 2 diabetes is also increasing in children, adolescents, and young adults.
Risk factors for Gestational diabetes
If you develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy, your risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases. If you have given birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds (4 kilograms), you are also at risk for type 2 diabetes.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome. For women with polycystic ovary syndrome – a common condition characterized by irregular periods, excessive hair growth, and obesity – it increases the risk of diabetes.
- High blood pressure. Blood pressure greater than 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or "good" cholesterol increases your risk of type 2 diabetes. Triglycerides are another type of fat carried in the blood. People with high triglycerides have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Your doctor can tell you what your cholesterol and triglyceride levels are.
The symptoms of diabetes vary depending on how high the blood sugar is. Some people, especially those with type 2 diabetes, may sometimes not experience symptoms. In type 1 diabetes, symptoms usually appear quickly and are more severe.
Some of the signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes are:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Extreme hunger
- Unexplained weight loss
- The presence of ketones in the urine (ketones are a by-product of the breakdown of muscle and fat that occurs when there is not enough insulin available)
- Blurred vision
- Slow healing ulcers
- Frequent infections such as gum or skin infections and vaginal infections
- Managing diabetes
Diabetes affects your entire body. To best manage your diabetes, you'll need to take steps to keep your risk factors under control and in the normal range, including:
- Keep your blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible by following a diet plan, taking prescribed medications, and increasing your activity level.
- Keep blood cholesterol (HDL and LDL levels) and triglycerides as close to normal as possible.
- Check your blood pressure, which should not be higher than 140/90 mmHg.
The keys to diabetes management:
- Planning what you eat and sticking to a healthy eating plan. Follow the Mediterranean diet (vegetables, whole grains, beans, fruit, healthy fats, low sugar) or the Dash diet. These diets are high in nutrients and fiber and low in fat and calories. See a registered dietitian to help you understand nutrition and meal planning.
- Regular exercise. Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes most days of the week. Take a walk, swim, or find an activity you enjoy.
- Losing weight if you are overweight. Work with your health care team to create a weight loss plan.
- Taking medications and insulin when prescribed and following the instructions on how and when to take them.
- Blood glucose and blood pressure monitoring at home.
- Keeping appointments with health care providers and performing laboratory tests as directed by the physician.
- Stop smoking (if you smoke).
Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes
Although risk factors for diabetes, such as family history and race, cannot be changed, there are other risk factors over which you have some control. Adopting some of the healthy lifestyle habits below can improve these modifiable risk factors and help reduce your chances of getting diabetes:
- Eat a healthy diet such as the Mediterranean or Dash diet. Keep a food diary and count the calories of everything you eat. Cutting 250 calories a day can help you lose ½ pound weekly.
- Be physically active. Aim for 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week. Start slow and work up to that amount, or break those minutes into more manageable 10-minute segments. Walking is excellent exercise.
- Lose weight if you are overweight. Don't lose weight if you're pregnant, but talk to your obstetrician about healthy weight gain during pregnancy.
- Reduce your stress. Learn relaxation techniques, deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, yoga, and other helpful strategies.
- Limit your alcohol intake. Men should drink no more than two alcoholic drinks a day; women should not drink more than one.
- Get enough sleep (usually 7 to 9 hours).
- Stop smoking.
- Take medications—to manage existing heart disease risk factors (e.g., high blood pressure, cholesterol) or to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes—as directed by your healthcare provider.
If you see any symptoms, see your doctor.
Prevention of Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, which means your body attacks itself. Scientists aren't sure why someone's body would attack itself. Other factors, such as genetic changes, may also be involved.
Prevention of long-term complications of diabetes
Chronic complications are responsible for most of the illnesses and death associated with diabetes. Chronic complications usually appear after several years of elevated blood sugar (hyperglycemia). Because patients with type 2 diabetes may have elevated blood sugar levels for several years before diagnosis, these patients may have signs of complications at the time of diagnosis.
Complications of diabetes have been described earlier in this article. Although complications can be broad and affect many organ systems, there are many common principles of prevention. These include:
- Take your diabetes medication (pills and insulin) as directed by your doctor.
- Take all your other medications to treat risk factors (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, other heart problems, and other medical conditions) as directed by your doctor.
- Monitor blood sugar levels closely.
- Follow a healthy diet such as the Mediterranean or Dash diet. Don't skip meals.
- Exercise regularly, at least 30 minutes five days a week.
- Lose weight if you are overweight.
- Stay well hydrated (water is your best bet).
- Stop smoking if you smoke.
Diabetes has become one of the most prevalent health concerns among all ages and genders. With the increasing cases and environmental changes along with dietary effects, preventing it is inevitable. Still, measures can be taken to manage diabetes if you are a patient. Follow Cured.com for more articles on health and lifestyle.From the Web