Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Diabetes : Information And Advice

Diabetes : Information And Advice

Diabetes is a disorder that affects the way your body uses food for energy. Normally, the sugar you take in is digested and broken down to a simple sugar, known as glucose. The glucose then circulates in your blood where it waits to enter cells to be used as fuel. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps move the glucose into cells. A healthy pancreas adjusts the amount of insulin based on the level of glucose. But, if you have diabetes, this process breaks down and blood sugar levels become too high.

Types of Diabetes

- Type 1 Diabetes
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Pre-Diabetes
- Gestational Diabetes

There are two main types of diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes are completely unable to produce insulin. People with type 2 diabetes can produce insulin, but the cells in their body don't respond to it. In both cases, the glucose can't move into the cells and blood glucose levels can become too high. Over time, these high glucose levels can cause serious problems and complications. Pre-diabetes means that the cells in your body are becoming resistant to insulin and your blood glucose levels are higher than they should be. Gestational diabetes appears in women with no previous history of diabetes, usually during the last half of pregnancy.

Diabetes Symptoms

- Frequent hunger or thirst
- Weight loss
- Dry skin
- Feeling tired
- Greater need to urinate
- Blurred vision
- Tingling/numbness in hands or feet
- Slow-healing sores
- Infections

How Do You Know If You Have Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes often does not have any noticeable symptoms, and you may not know that you have it. Regular check-ups with your doctor and some basic blood tests will help you find out early if you have the disease. Early detection helps you to get control of your blood sugars. If your blood sugar is controlled, then your risk for complications is greatly reduced. Diagnosis includes a blood glucose test and an oral glucose tolerance test.

Available Treatments

Medications are usually prescribed in addition to lifestyle changes. The medications work in different ways but their effect is to lower blood glucose and help the body's own insulin become more effective. If oral medications are not enough, insulin injections may be used to help gain control of glucose levels.

- Medications - oral antihyperglycemic agents, injectable antiyperglycemics, insulin
- Blood glucose monitoring
- Keeping excess weight off
- Dietary changes - more vegetables and fruits, complex carbs and whole grains, fewer over-processed, fatty, starchy, sugary choices
- Daily exercise

Can You Prevent Diabetes?

Prevention is actually possible. If you have risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes, it is possible to prevent the disease. Healthy eating, maintaining a normal weight and daily exercise will not only help you feel your best, but may greatly reduce your chances of getting diabetes.


Pre-diabetes means that the cells in your body are becoming resistant to insulin or your pancreas is not producing as much insulin as required. The blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be called diabetes. A diagnosis of pre-diabetes is a warning sign that diabetes will develop later. The good news is that you can prevent the development of Type 2 diabetes by losing weight, making changes in your diet and exercising.

Risk Factors

- Overweight or obese
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Family history
- Age
- Race - African Americans, Hispanics and American Indians are at greater risk for type 2 diabetes
- A previous diagnosis of gestational diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease of the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. It is believed that it may be a virus that triggers the immune system to attack the cells and permanently destroy them. The pancreas can no longer make the insulin necessary to transport sugar from the blood into the other cells of the body for energy. Sugar builds up in the blood and over time can damage internal organs and blood vessels.

A person with Type 1 diabetes must take insulin everyday to survive. They have to find the right amount of insulin necessary to keep the blood sugar level as close to normal as possible. The person with diabetes has to check their blood sugar levels often and then inject themselves with the correct amount of insulin to counteract the amount of sugar. This mimics the action of the pancreas.

Warning Signs

This can be an overwhelming process for the newly diagnosed person, especially since Type 1 diabetes typically strikes children and young adults, although adults age 40 and older, can get Type 1. The onset of the disease happens quickly. As the insulin stops being produced and the blood sugar rises, this causes hyperglycemia. Several warning signs appear. Increased thirst, increased urination, fatigue, weight loss and blurred vision are a few of the most noticeable signs of Type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes:

A person with Type 2 diabetes has adequate insulin, but the cells have become resistant to it. Type 2 usually occurs in adults over 35 years old, but can affect anyone, including children. The National Institutes of Health state that 95 percent of all diabetes cases are Type 2 because it is a lifestyle disease, triggered by obesity, a lack of exercise, increased age and to some degree, genetic predisposition.

Risk Factors For Type 2 Diabetes:

- Obesity
- Poor diet
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Increased age - almost 21% of people over 60 have diabetes
- Family history
- Ethnicity - diabetes is more common in the African-American, Native American, Latino, Pacific Islander and Asian-American populations
- History of metabolic syndrome
- History of gestational diabetes

Complications Caused By High Glucose

- Neuropathy - nerve damage, especially in extremities
- Nephropathy - kidney damage, kidney failure
- Retinopathy - vision problems, blindness
- Cardiovascular Disease - heart disease and increased risk of strokes
- Erectile dysfunction in men and decreased desire in both men and women
- Depression

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes affects about 4 percent of all pregnant women. It usually appears during the second trimester and disappears after the birth of the baby.

Certain hormones increase during pregnancy, transferring nutrients from the mother to the baby so that the fetus develops and grows. Other hormones block the action of insulin, ensuring that the mother herself does not develop low blood sugar. To compensate, the mother’s insulin levels rise.

If her insulin levels cannot increase sufficiently, rising blood sugar levels will eventually result in gestational diabetes. Untreated, gestational diabetes can lead to complications for both the mother and the baby. These complications may include:

- Macrosomia (oversized baby)
- Increased chance of cesarean section delivery
- High blood pressure during pregnancy
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) in the baby immediately after birth
- Stillbirth
- For the child, risk of obesity and developing type 2 diabetes later in life

Risk Factors

Many pregnant women who develop gestational diabetes have no risk factors, but in others, risk factors may include:

- Being overweight or obese
- Having a family history of type 2 diabetes
- Age 25 or older
- Multiple gestation (twins, triplets or more)
- Gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
- Being American Indian or Alaska native, African American, Asian, Hispanic or Pacific Islander

Diabetes Complications

- Diabetic Neuropathy
- Kidney Disease in Diabetes
- Heart Disease and Diabetes
- Erectile Dysfunction and Diabetes
- Diabetic Ketoacidosis

By: Imgenmk
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