Over 21 million people in the United States are affected by Type 1 diabetes. This is a staggering 7% of the population. It is estimated that another 6 million people has diabetes and are not even aware of it. Researchers believe that 41 million more people suffer from pre-diabetes, a condition that lead to Type 2 diabetes over the course of their lifetime. Now that you know the statistics can see why diabetes is such a major health concern in this country
WHAT IS DIABETES
Diabetes is the inability to regulate the amount of sugar, especially glucose, in the blood. Glucose in the blood gives you the energy that you need to do things like walking, running, bicycle riding and a host of other daily activities.
When we eat food blood glucose is produced by the liver. Under normal conditions glucose is regulated by several hormones, including insulin. Insulin is produced in the pancreas along with other important enzymes that aid in the digestion of food. Insulin allows glucose to move from the blood into the liver, muscles and fat cells where it is used as fuel.
When a person does not produce enough insulin this is known as Type 1 diabetes. Another situation when a person can not use insulin properly is called Type 2 diabetes. People can have either one or both forms of the disease. The problem is that glucose can not move from the blood to the cells that need it for energy and the high levels that remain in the blood can do damage to other tissues and organs.
WHAT ARE THE COMPLICATIONS FROM DIABETES
Both forms of diabetes lead to high blood sugar levels which is called hyperglycemia. This condition, over a long period of time will result in several serious medical conditions. Damage to the retina of the eye from diabetes is the leading cause of blindness. It can also cause damage to the kidneys resulting in kidney failure. Damage to the nerves from diabetes is the leading cause of foot wounds and ulcers which may result in amputation of feet and legs.
Damage to the nerves can also lead to paralysis of the stomach (gastroparesis), chronic diarrhea, and an inability to control heart rate and blood pressure during postural changes.
Diabetes can also cause atherosclerosis, which is when fatty plaques form inside the arteries. This can lead to heart attacks and strokes as well as decreased circulation in our arms and legs.
Diabetes can also contribute to a number of short lived medical problems. Many infections are associated with diabetes. Infections are also more frequent and dangerous for people with the disease because it hinders the body’s ability to fight it off. The condition is also made worst because infections may worsen glucose control, which further delays recovery from the infection.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF DIABETES
Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes are often dramatic and come very quickly. It is usually recognized during early childhood or adolescence and is picked up during other less serious medical problems such as an illness or injury. The extra stress can cause a condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis. Symptoms of this are nausea and vomiting along with dehydration. It can also affect the potassium levels in the blood. If ketoacidosis is left untreated it can result in coma or even death.
Type 2 Diabetes is often more subtle and is associated with aging or obesity. A person can have this form of diabetes for years and be unaware of it. If left untreated, this can lead to complications such as nerve damage, blindness, heart disease and kidney failure.
Some of the more common symptoms associated with both forms of diabetes are fatigue, unexplained weight loss, thirst, and excessive urination. Other symptoms can include excessive eating, open wounds that do not heal properly, infections, blurry vision and a noticeable change in mental status.
In conclusion, as you can see diabetes can be a serious and life threatening disease. This is true in both childhood diabetes and for people who come down with the disease later on in life. Understanding what diabetes is and some of the more common symptoms will enable you to seek medical attention if you or anyone in your family is experiencing one or more symptoms.