By Marina Woodard
Diabetes is a condition when the body’s inability to convert food into energy resulted from the pancreas failure to produce enough or any insulin. Over time, the high blood sugar (glucose) levels caused by the condition can lead to several health problems and complications. According to the statistics provided by the American Diabetes Association and Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), 29.1 million people or 9.3% population have diabetes (21 million diagnosed, and 8.1 million undiagnosed). Millions more are at great risk of developing the condition. Further, diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in United States in 2013.
There are three types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational.
- Type 1: This type, also known as Juvenile diabetes, is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. This is a form of diabetes where the body’s pancreas produces little to no insulin that the body needs to break down sugar to survive, resulting in increase of high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period. The cause to this condition is still unknown. People with type 1 diabetes often develop autoimmune system disorders such as thyroid and gastrointestinal diseases. Treatment of type 1 diabetes requires daily injections of insulin. Insulin cannot be administered orally.
- Type 2: This type, also called adult-onset or noninsulin-dependent diabetes, is the most common form of diabetes that affects the way your body metabolizes sugar (glucose). Your body uses sugar as a source of fuel. Unlike type 1, type 2 diabetics produce insulin; however the pancreas either does not secrete enough or the body is resistance to the insulin produced (insulin resistance), which causes the glucose level to rise higher than normal. This is also known as hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). The cause can be hereditary-, lifestyle, excessive body weight and lack of exercise. Over time, this condition can cause health problems such as blindness and glaucoma, foot complications, skin problems, high blood pressures, heart problems, nerve damage and many more. Treatment of type 2 diabetes varies including diet, oral medication and perhaps insulin.
- Gestational: Develops and diagnosed during late pregnancy and often occurs to women who have no prior history of diabetes. The gestational diabetes is caused by the malfunctioning of insulin production due to the presence of placenta that releases the hormone to help the baby grow. This makes it harder for the body to produce or use insulin (insulin resistance). The risk factors include obesity, history of gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy, pre-diabetes, ethnicity, parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes, history of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and previous high weight birth of over 9 lbs. Gestational diabetes may increase the risk of C-section delivery due to a larger than normal fetus, pre-eclampsia, depression and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
Diabetes Management and Awareness: Learn the symptoms since diabetes (especially type 2) may often go undiagnosed or simply mistaken for other common illnesses. Symptoms of diabetes include extreme thirst, frequent urination, sudden weight lost, increased appetite, sudden vision change and etc. Knowing the signs and early stages of diabetes can save your life or the life of your loved ones. There is no cure for diabetes, but it can be managed with diet, exercise and medicine. Living with diabetes can be frustrating and overwhelming, but it can be managed with proper care from doctors as well as your good management plan.
To learn more about diabetes, go to America Diabetes Association at www.diabetes.org or for public employees diabetes prevention resources go to HCA Public Employees Benefits Diabetes Prevention.