What is Diabetes?

Have you been looking for a Diabetes – Introduction? We have complied and condense all the facts for you.

Overall, we will discuss what diabetes is, as well as the types. Diabetes means that your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Glucose comes from foods we eat, and is needed as fuel for our bodies even when we are at rest. Your blood always has a little bit of glucose. Extra glucose is normally stored in our liver and muscles until we need it for activity. To be used for energy the glucose has to be moved from the liver, muscle and blood into the cells. he problem happens when the glucose stays in your blood and does not reach the cell. This causes your blood glucose to reach an unhealthy level.

An organ in our body, the pancreas, makes insulin. After all, insulin is what helps glucose move from the blood into the cells. When you have diabetes, it is because the pancreas does not produce enough insulin. Importantly, another type of diabetes is caused when the pancreas makes insulin, but the cells are not using the glucose very well. In both cases, the blood glucose level rises too high. Clearly, it is unhealthy for the blood glucose to be too high. Finally, this elevation in blood glucose level causes damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, nerves and kidneys.

Types of Diabetes

Type 1

In Type 1 diabetes the beta cells in the pancreas that make insulin are destroyed. This is due to the immune system mistakenly attacking the beta cells usually leading to absolute insulin deficiency. In adults, type 1 diabetes accounts for 5% to 10% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Genes, toxins or viruses may cause a person to get type 1 diabetes. There is no known way to prevent type 1 diabetes. Several clinical trials for preventing type 1 diabetes are currently underway aimed at preventing beta cell destruction.

Type 2:

In Type 2 diabetes there is a progressive loss of adequate beta cell secretion usually due to insulin resistance. As a result, in adults, type 2 diabetes accounts for about 90% to 95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Evidently, it usually begins when the pancreas still produces insulin, but a disorder called insulin resistance develops. This happens when the cells do not use glucose properly. When the glucose cannot enter the cells, the glucose levels in the blood rise. This increase sends a signal to the pancreas to increase insulin, but the pancreas gradually loses its ability to produce it. It is important to note that type 1 and type 2 diabetes are not always straightforward at presentation and that misdiagnosis is common.

Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes:

– Older Age

– Obesity

– Family History of Diabetes

– History of Gestational Diabetes

– Impaired Glucose Metabolism

– Poor Diet and Nutrition

– Sedentary Lifestyle

– Certain Race/Ethnicities: African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, some Asian Americans and Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders

Gestational Diabetes 

Gestational Diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs when women are pregnant. During pregnancy, gestational diabetes requires treatment with diet and/or insulin to keep blood glucose levels within normal range to avoid complications in the infant.

It should be noted that gestational diabetes occurs more frequently among African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, and American Indians. It is also more common among obese women and women with a family history of diabetes. Immediately after pregnancy, 5% to 10% of women with gestational diabetes are found to have diabetes, usually type 2. Women who have had gestational diabetes have a 40% to 60% chance of developing diabetes in the next 5 to 10 years.

Pre-Diabetes

Millions of US adults have pre-diabetes. With action, pre-diabetes can be reversed. Find out if you or a loved one may be at risk.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Diabetes Association(ADA), and the American Medical Association(AMA) have teamed up to produce a free online screening test to predict whether someone might be at risk for pre-diabetes based on seven questions. The online test examines age (1 to 3 points), sex (1 point), gestational diabetes (1 point), family history (1 point), blood pressure (1 point), physical activity (1 point), and weight (1 to 3 points).

Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have “pre-diabetes”. This is blood glucose levels that are higher than normal hence not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. There are 88 million people in the United States who have pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes is a serious medical condition that can be treated. Several studies have shown that before pre-diabetes is even diagnosed some long-term damage to the body, especially the heart and circulatory system, may already be occurring.

The Good News

The good news is that by managing your blood glucose when you have pre-diabetes, you can delay or prevent type 2 diabetes from ever developing. Certainly, there is a lot you can do yourself to know if you are at risk for pre-diabetes and to take action to prevent diabetes if you have, or are at risk for, pre-diabetes. The results of a major study showed that people with pre-diabetes can prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. For instance,  by making changes in their diet and increasing their level of physical activity.

Although this same study showed that some medications may delay the development of diabetes, diet and exercise worked better. Participants in the study reduced their risk of diabetes by 58% with the inclusion of 30 minutes of daily physical activity and a healthy diet that lead to a small degree of weight loss (5% to 10% of body weight).

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