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You are here : Home / Diabetes Zone / Diabetes FAQ and Information / What is Diabetes - a Walk Through

What is Diabetes - a Walk Through

What is Diabetes - a Walk Through

What is Diabetes - a Walk Through

Diabetes is a group of diseases marked by high levels of blood glucose resulting from defects in insulin production, insulin action, or both. Diabetes can lead to serious complications and premature death, but people with diabetes can take steps to control the disease and lower the risk of complications.

Types of diabetes

Type 1 diabetes was previously called insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) or juvenile-onset diabetes. Type 1 diabetes develops when the body's immune system destroys pancreatic beta cells, the only cells in the body that make the hormone insulin that regulates blood glucose . To survive, people with type 1 diabetes must have insulin delivered by injection or a pump. This form of diabetes usually strikes children and young adults, although disease onset can occur at any age. Type 1 diabetes accounts for 5% to 10% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Risk factors for type 1 diabetes may be autoimmune, genetic, or environmental. There is no known way to prevent type 1 diabetes. Several clinical trials of methods to prevent type 1 diabetes are currently in progress or are being planned.

Type 2 diabetes was previously called non–insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) or adult-onset diabetes. Type 2 diabetes accounts for about 90% to 95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. It usually begins as insulin resistance, a disorder in which the cells do not use insulin properly. As the need for insulin rises, the pancreas gradually loses its ability to produce it. Type 2 diabetes is associated with older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose metabolism, physical inactivity, and race/ethnicity. African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, and some Asian Americans and Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders are at particularly high risk for type 2 diabetes and its complications. Clinically-based reports and regional studies suggest that type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents, although still rare, is being diagnosed more frequently, particularly in American Indians, African Americans, and Hispanic/Latino Americans.

Gestational diabetes is a form of glucose intolerance diagnosed in some women during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes occurs more frequently among African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, and American Indians. It is also more common among obese women and women with a family history of diabetes. During pregnancy, gestational diabetes requires treatment to normalize maternal blood glucose levels to avoid complications in the infant. After pregnancy, 5% to 10% of women with gestational diabetes are found to have type 2 diabetes. Women who have had gestational diabetes have a 20% to 50% chance of developing diabetes in the next 5–10 years.

Other types of diabetes result from specific genetic conditions (such as maturity-onset diabetes of youth), surgery, drugs, malnutrition, infections, and other illnesses. Such types of diabetes account for 1% to 5% of all diagnosed cases.

Treating diabetes
  • To survive, people with type 1 diabetes must have insulin delivered by injection or a pump.
  • Many people with type 2 diabetes can control their blood glucose by following a healthy meal plan and exercise program, losing excess weight, and taking oral medication.
  • Many people with diabetes also need to take medications to control their cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • Diabetes self-management education (DMSE) is an integral component of medical care.
  • Among adults with diagnosed diabetes, 16% take insulin only, 12% take both insulin and oral medication, 57% take oral medication only, and 15% do not take either insulin or oral medications.
Diabetes Problems
Diabetes can affect any part of your body. The good news is that you can prevent most of these problems by keeping your blood glucose (blood sugar) under control, eating healthy, being physical active, working with your health care provider to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control, and getting necessary screening tests.

Manage Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus affects more than 246 million worldwide and 16 million in US. It damages blood vessels, including the coronary arteries of the heart. Up to 75 percent of those with diabetes develop heart and blood vessel diseases. Diabetes also can lead to stroke, kidney failure, and other problems.
Diabetes occurs when the body is not able to use sugar as it should for growth and energy. The body gets sugar when it changes food into glucose (a form of sugar). A hormone called insulin is needed for the glucose to be taken up and used by the body.
Symptoms of diabetes include:
  • increased thirst and urination,
  • weight loss,
  • blurred vision,
  • hunger,
  • fatigue,
  • frequent infections,
  • slow healing of wounds or sores.
There are two main types of diabetes:
  • insulin-dependent, or type 1,
  • noninsulin-dependent, or type 2.
Type 1 usually appears suddenly and most commonly in those under age 30. Type 2 diabetes occurs gradually and most often in those over age 40. Up to 95 percent of those with diabetes have type 2.
You’re more likely to develop type 2 if you are overweight or obese, especially with extra weight around the middle, over age 40, have high blood pressure, or have a family history of diabetes.
Diabetes is particularly prevalent among African Americans, Asians, and Native Americans.

Because of the link with heart disease, it’s important for those with diabetes to prevent or control heart disease and its risk factors. Besides diabetes, major risk factors for heart disease include smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, physical inactivity, and overweight and obesity.

Fortunately, new research shows that the same steps that reduce the risk of heart disease also lower the chance of developing type 2 diabetes. And, for those who already have diabetes, those steps, along with taking any prescribed medication, also can delay or prevent the development of complications of diabetes, such as eye disease and nerve damage.
According to the research, a 7 percent loss of body weight and 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week can reduce the chance of developing diabetes by 58 percent in those who are at high risk. The lifestyle changes cut the risk of developing type 2 diabetes regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, or weight.

To reduce the risk of developing diabetes, as well as heart disease, you should:
  • Follow a heart healthy eating plan, which is low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and moderate in total fat.
  • Aim for a healthy weight.
  • Be physically active each day–try to do 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity such as brisk walking on most and, preferably, all days of the week.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Prevent or control high blood pressure.
  • Prevent or control high blood cholesterol.
If you already have diabetes, you can delay its progression, or prevent or slow the development of heart, blood vessel, and other complications by following the steps given above and these:
  • Eat your meals and snacks at around the same times each day.
  • Check with your doctor about physical activities that are best for you.
  • Take your diabetes medicine at the same times each day.
  • Check your blood sugar every day. Each time you check your blood sugar, write the number in your record book. Call your doctor if your numbers are too high or too low for 2 to 3 days.
  • Check your feet every day for cuts, blisters, sores, swelling, redness, or sore toenails.
  • Brush and floss your teeth and gums every day.
  • Take any prescribed medication for other conditions, such as coronary heart disease.
  • Check with your doctor about taking aspirin each day if you have heart disease.
Diabetes Zone

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