What is Diabetes

What Exactly is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease characterized by abnormal high glucose (sugar) levels in the blood. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, regulates the amount of glucose in our blood.

In patients with Diabetes, the body either does not produce enough insulin or does not adequately respond to the insulin it is producing. This causes blood sugar levels to rise and be higher than normal.

Diabetes can be associated with serious complications such as heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, stroke, and the need for lower-limb amputations. The good news is that several steps can be taken to control the disease and lower the risk of complications.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes (previously called Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM) or juvenile-onset diabetes) develops when the body’s immune system destroys the pancreatic beta cells, which make insulin.

Type 1 Diabetes usually occurs in children and young adults, who must have insulin delivered by injections or a pump in order to survive. Type 1 Diabetes may account for 5% to 10% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Risk factors include autoimmune, genetic, and environmental factors.

Type 2 Diabetes

diabetes-testType 2 Diabetes – previously known as Non Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM ) or adult-onset diabetes – develops gradually, and is usually caused by a combination of impaired secretion of insulin and reduced sensitivity of the body’s cells to insulin, called insulin resistance. As a result, blood glucose levels become elevated.

Type 2 Diabetes usually occurs in adults, however it is increasingly being diagnosed in younger people, even in childhood and adolescence. Type 2 Diabetes may account for about 90% to 95% of all diagnosed cases of Diabetes, and the prevalence is rising at an alarming rate throughout the world. This is believed to be due to increase in longevity, sedentary lifestyles and a dramatic upsurge in obesity.

In just the United States alone, Diabetes affects over 20.8 million people, roughly 8% of adults age 20 and over. The cost to the nation is more than $100 billion every single year. Internationally, these Diabetes figures are even more shocking!

Type 2 Diabetes Can Be Controlled

Therapeutic lifestyle management such as following a careful diet and exercise program, and losing excess weight might help, though oral medications are often necessary. Risk factors include old age, obesity, a family history of Diabetes, prior history of gestational Diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, physical inactivity, and race/ethnicity.

African Americans., Hispanic / Latino Americans, American Indians, and some Asian Americans and Pacific Islander are at particularly high risk for Type 2 Diabetes.

Other types you should be aware of…

Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT)

Impaired Glucose Tolerance is an intermediate state between normal blood glucose control and Type 2 Diabetes. IGT is an early sign that a person’s carbohydrate metabolism is impaired. It carries a high risk of progressing to Type 2 Diabetes.

IGT and Type 2 Diabetes, result from a combination of impaired secretion of insulin and reduced sensitivity of the body’s cells to insulin. This is called insulin resistance.

Gestational Diabetes

pregnancyGestational Diabetes is a form of glucose intolerance diagnosed in some women during pregnancy, but usually disappears after the mother gives birth. Treatment is required to normalize blood glucose levels to avoid complications in the infant.

Gestational Diabetes occurs more frequently among African Americans, Hispanic / Latin Americans, and Native Americans. It is also more common among obese women and women with a family history of Diabetes.

Secondary Diabetes

Secondary Diabetes can result from other conditions such as specific genetic syndromes, surgery, drugs, malnutrition, infection, and other damage to or diseases of the pancreas.

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