What is Diabetes?
What is Diabetes? Diabetes is one of the most common chronic afflictions, affecting over 28 million Americans and 171 million people worldwide. There are three different types of diabetes: type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. The most common among the three is type 2 diabetes, which affects close to 90 percent of those afflicted with the disease. With the increasing number of diabetic patients, as a community, we have three different options; we can work to understand the illness better, work to prevent and treat the disease or work to find a cure for diabetes. Though many people might not have a thorough knowledge of what is diabetes, it is advisable to learn about the causes of diabetes, possible symptoms, prevention and treatment options.
Diabetes is an enduring condition in which the pancreas fails to produce a hormone, insulin, which is responsible for carrying digested sugars from food to other cells. Due to the absence or insufficient production of insulin, body cells don’t get the required glucose for producing ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate). ATP is an enzyme that allows cells to obtain and use energy. Glucose is an important energy source in the body. In a person with diabetes, the blood sugar levels are increased whilst cell sugar levels are depressed.
Diabetes is usually of two types: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 occurs as a result of an autoimmune response to a viral attack on the pancreas. Type 2 occurs when people consume high amounts of sugar, carbohydrates, and animal products causing fat reserves of the body to metabolize. In the common type of diabetes, type 2, an individual’s cells are said to be have developed insulin resistance. Insulin no longer has its desired effect and blood sugar is no longer absorbed, the glucose is then excreted in the urine.
In both types of diabetes, the common signs and symptoms are likely to be similar, resulting in high blood sugar due to defective insulin metabolism. The increased glucose levels in the blood results in different symptoms. The afflicted individual feels excessively thirsty, will urinate frequently, lose weight, have dry skin, have wounds that do not heal quickly and will feel tired most of the time. Below is a detailed review of typical symptoms of diabetes:
- Excessive urination and feeling very thirsty — the buildup of sugar in the blood forces the kidneys to work extra hard to absorb the excess amounts. When the kidneys find it difficult to keep up, the excess sugar gets absorbed by fluid that is drawn from the tissues and gets excreted in the urine. This loss of fluids causes you to feel very thirsty. As you drink more liquids quench your thirst, you feel like urinating even more.
- Extreme fatigue — since the body is not as efficient at using sugar to generate the energy it requires; you start to feel increasingly more tired. The increasing dehydration also contributes to your feelings of fatigue.
- Blurry vision — when the level of sugar in your blood becomes very high, it pulls fluids from tissues from all parts of the body including the lenses of your eyes. This causes the lenses to get dehydrate, which compromises its focus, resulting in blurry vision.
- Sudden pangs of hunger — Take note of sudden pangs of hunger especially if it comes together with unexpected weight loss. Since most people lead an active life, sleepiness and lethargy can be expected. However, should the signs persist, you should consult your doctor for diabetes checkup.
- Numbness and a tingling sensation in hands or feet — Poor blood circulation results in numbness in the feet and the hands. Sometimes, it is an indication of nerve damage caused by prolonged constant levels of high blood glucose. The diabetic experiences the pricking on the feet and hands as if someone is doing it with pins and needles. This nerve damage manifests itself as loss of sensation, tingling or burning in the hands, arms, feet and also the legs.
- Sores and cuts that are slow to heal and a higher frequency of infections — high sugar levels hinder the body’s ability to fight infections and also obstruct the natural healing process of the body so cuts and sores take unusually long to heal, and you may suffer from infections more often. Infections of the vagina and the bladder are common in women.
- Unusual weight loss or gain — Due to increased urination, metabolism of fat and protein your body may cause you to lose weight. Conversely, you may gain weight due to an increase in your appetite.
For you to recognize most of these symptoms, you need first to have a deep understanding of what is diabetes. However, since the symptoms of diabetes can be difficult to identify, it often goes undiagnosed. It is better to get a checkup by a doctor if you have any of the above symptoms. Even though the symptoms may differ from person to person, the two symptoms that occur in most people are increased thirst and frequent urination.
Preventing and Treating Diabetes
Treatment with Medications: There are several medications available that are prescribed to treat diabetes. In managing type 1 diabetes, a doctor may prescribe insulin shots to help to help in glucose absorption. Type 2 diabetes medications help by making the cells absorb glucose better or by limiting the amount of glucose absorbed in the gut. These medications help to manage the disease, but most patients hope that the science community will find a cure for diabetes.
- Treatment with Diet: Diet is an important part of treating diabetes. Limiting certain foods can help keep blood sugar levels under control.
- Preventing Diabetes: Prevention is better than finding a cure for diabetes. However, diabetes that is genetically inherited cannot be prevented. In contrary, type 2 diabetes can prevent.
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by exercising and eating right, an individual can help control glucose levels in their blood.
For those with a higher risk of developing diabetes, certain tests can help predict the development of diabetes.
Finding a Cure for Diabetes
Currently, most of the studies are focused on finding strategies of diabetes disease management and prevention. However, with obesity on the rise globally, diabetes is becoming an increasing health burden. Researchers are now shifting their focus and working hard to find scientifically proven methods of curing diabetes. Among the research being pursued are islet cell (insulin producing cells) transplants, artificial pancreases and the genetic manipulation of non-islet cells to produce insulin.
If you are suffering from this killer disease, it is advisable to have a thorough knowledge of what is diabetes, the symptoms, prevention measures and the available treatment options. Diabetes may prove to be fatal if not diagnosed and treated on time. However, if diagnosed in time, it can be easily managed through diet control and medication.