Diabetes - a lifelong and incurable metabolic disease, which is marked by high levels of blood sugar. Diabetes is divided into two categories: Type 1 Diabetes that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to properly control blood sugar levels, and Type 2 Diabetes which is the more common type of diabetes, marked by high levels of blood sugar (glucose). Diabetes affects more than 20 million Americans and over 40 million Americans have pre-diabetes.
Diabetes is caused by unbalanced production of insulin by the body. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas to control blood sugar. Not enough insulin, or a resistance to insulin, can cause diabetes to occur. In people without Diabetes, during food digestion, a sugar called glucose enters the bloodstream. Glucose is an energy source. An organ called the pancreas produces insulin which moves glucose from the bloodstream into all the body organs, where it can be used as fuel.
Diabetes patients have high blood sugar because their pancreas does not make enough insulin, and their organs are not able to get enough of the glucose to function well.
Other causes of Diabetes are age (people over 45 are susceptible to Diabetes), genetics (if the disorder runs in the family), heart disease, high cholesterol levels, former Gestational diabetes, being over-weight, lack of exercise, or already poor glucose tolerance. A number of ethnic groups are at an increased risk of Diabetes. Groups such as African Americans, Native Americans, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Hispanic Americans have higher rates of Diabetes. Additionally, inability to afford and maintain a healthy diet is becoming an increasing factor in developing Diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes symptoms develop at a rapid rate and causes patients to experience fatigue, increased thirst and frequent urination. Patients also report nausea, vomiting with weight loss in spite of increased appetite. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in childhood or before reaching the age of 20 years old. In this type of Diabetes, the body makes little or no insulin and patients require daily insulin injections.
This form of Diabetes develops slowly and some diabetes patients do not realized they have the disorder until a medical diagnosis is made. It causes patients to have fatigue, blurred vision, and above abnormal appetite, thirst and urination amount and frequency. Type 2 Diabetes usually occurs in adulthood, but young people are increasingly being diagnosed with it as well, due to poor diets and lack of active lifestyles. The pancreas stops functioning normally and does not make enough insulin to keep blood glucose levels normal, often because the body does not respond well to insulin.
Since Diabetes is a life-long problem, treatment focuses on long-term issues such as blood pressure and cholesterol control, self testing of blood glucose levels, exercise, foot care, diet planning and weight control. Additional treatments are insulin or medications. Type 1 Diabetes patients are typically treated in a hospital after diagnosis, because blood sugar levels have to be normalized immediately.
People with type 1 Diabetes should eat regularly in an attempt to keep blood sugar from becoming extremely high or low. Meals should occur at about the same time each day. Consistency of food choice is important. Type 2 diabetes patients should follow a well-balanced and low-fat diet.