2010, among Americans 30 and older, 13.7% of men and 11.9% of women have diabetes. Almost one-third of them have never received a diagnosis of the disease. Ninety-five percent of diabetics have type-two diabetes — a disease caused by obesity (Diabetes: A state-by-State Breakdown, Nicholas Bakalar, October 12, 2009, New York Times).
In the opening of January 9, 2006, New York Time feature story on diabetes, N.R. Kleinfield writes:
“Begin on the sixth floor, third room from the end, swathed in fluorescence: a 60-year-old woman was having two toes sawed off. One floor up, corner room: a middle-aged man sprawled, recuperating from a kidney transplant. Next door: nerve damage. Eighth floor, first room to the left: stroke. Two doors down: more toes being removed. Next room: a flawed heartâ€¦these assorted burdens were all the work of a single illness: diabetes.
As the percentage of over-weight children and adults has to grown and the resulting cases of diabetes has develop, the United States has created a medical epidemic with horrifying consequences.
WHAT IS DIABETES?
When you have diabetes, your body is unable to process sugar properly. Normally, your body uses insulin to break down sugar into glucose, which moves through your blood stream to deliver energy to the cells. When you have diabetes this process in not working correctly.
There are four types of diabetes: type-one, type-two, gestational and pre-diabetes. In each type of diabetes the body’s ability to process sugar is impeded. Type-one diabetes occurs when your pancreas no longer produces insulin. Type-two diabetes is the result of your body’s inability to produce enough insulin or the body’s inability to properly use the insulin produced by the pancreas. Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy when changing hormone levels impact the body’s use of insulin. Pre-diabetes is when glucose levels in the blood are above average but have not yet reach the levels that are associated with diabetes.
Type-one diabetes occurs when the body is unable to produce insulin. Insulin is made in beta cells; a type-one diabetic’s body destroys these cells. Symptoms of type-one diabetes are extreme thirst, frequent urination, weight loss and hunger. To treat type-one diabetes insulin must be injected into the body at regular intervals to help maintain the proper blood sugar levels. The doctor will recommend the type of insulin the amount and the frequency that will best help the patient.
If type one diabetes is untreated, the body reacts by breaking down fat. When fat is broken down it produces and releases ketones into the bloodstream causing a person to feel flush, loose their appetite, feels of restlessness and confusion. This is called diabetic ketoacidosis, which can damage the eyes, heart, nerves, and kidney and in extreme cases, it can cause death.
Typically, type-one diabetes starts in childhood. The cause of type one diabetes is unknown, however there is a heredity link; if one of your blood relatives has it, you are twice as likely to be a type one diabetic (https://members.kaiserpermanente.org/kpweb/healthency.do?hwid=hw34303).
Type-two diabetes is when the body is either unable to use the insulin it produces or it produces too little to do its job of breaking down sugars. Symptoms of type-two diabetes include: increased thirst and hunger, frequent urination, weight loss and numbness or tingling of the hands and feet. Doctors use a fasting plasma glucose test to confirm a diagnosis of type-two diabetes. A patient must fast for 8 hours prior to giving a blood sample (http://diabetes.webmd.com/guide/diagnosing-type-2-diabetes). If it is determine that the patient has diabetes, the doctor will prescribe diet management and exercise. In some cases, insulin shots or pills may also be prescribed.
Unlike type-one diabetes, type-two develops because of lifestyle choices. If you are overweight and get little or no exercise, you have a greater chance of developing type-two diabetes. Other un-controllable factors known to contribute to type-two diabetes include: family history, age, race, ethnicity and a low body weight at birth (https://members.kaiserpermanente.org/kpweb/healthency.do?hwid=hw135189§ionId=ur1000&contextId=hw135189).
COMPLICATIONS AND EFFECTS OF DIABETES
There are many long-term health issues are associated with diabetes. If a patient fails to be diagnosis or a patient does not maintain their insulin schedule, complications may occur. Diabetics have a higher likelihood of developing eye problems than non-diabetic including glaucoma, cataracts and retinopathy. Diabetics need to have their eyes checked regularly in order to catch and treat these eye problems.
Foot problems may happen due to nerve damage and poor circulation. These problems may be as simple as dry skin, foot deformity and in severe cases, foot amputation due to infection. Diabetics cannot rely on pain to signal a foot problem and must check their feet regularly and take immediate action if a problem is found.
Two-thirds of all diabetics have high blood pressure, which can lead to very serious health problems. Diabetes combine with high blood pressure increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, eye and kidney disease (http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/high-blood-pressure-hypertension.html). A diabetic has the ability to lower the risks associated with high blood pressure by making healthy lifestyle choices. Diabetics who choose a diet low in fat and salt and high in fruits, vegetables and lean protein can reduce their blood pressure. Additional preventive measures include maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, refrain from drinking alcohol and smoking and if prescribed, regularly taking high blood pressure medications.
One of the most serious complications is nephropathy (kidney disease). As discussed above, diabetes increases the likelihood of high blood pressure; high blood pressure causes more blood than normal is filter through the kidneys which will weaken and damage the kidneys. If a kidney fails, the patient will need either kidney dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Diabetes is a terrible disease; it changes your everyday life and has the potential to cause great discomfort and pain. Most cases of diabetes are linked to a bad diet and a lack exercise. Americans need to change their lifestyles to reduce their chances of becoming diabetic and experiencing the daily burden of managing there blood sugar and eliminate other serious health problems linked to diabetes.
www.webmd.com www.diabetes.org www.kaiserpermanente.org
Bakalar, N. “Diabetes: A state-by-State Breakdown,” New York Times, October 12, 2009.
Kleinfield, N.R. “Diabetes and Its Awful Toll Quietly Emerge as a Crisis,” New York Times, January 9, 2006
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