Diabetes: The Types, The Causes, The Treatments
BY JALESSA CASTILLO, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Diabetes, also referred to as diabetes mellitus, describes a group of long-term metabolic diseases in which the person has high blood glucose (blood sugar), either because insulin production is inadequate, or because the body's cells do not respond properly to insulin, or both.
Metabolism refers to the way our bodies use digested food for energy and growth. Most of what we eat is broken down into glucose, a form of sugar in the blood.
When our food is digested, the glucose makes its way into our bloodstream. However, glucose cannot enter our cells without insulin, a hormone that is produced by the pancreas that moves the glucose present in our blood into the cells.
Types of Diabetes
There are three types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational.
Type 1 is not preventable and develops when the pancreas does not produce insulin. People are usually diagnosed as young adults or teenagers. Patients need to take insulin injections for the rest of their life and they must ensure proper blood-glucose levels by carrying out regular blood tests and following a special diet.
The gradual destruction of cells in the pancreas, susceptibility genes, autoantigens, various viruses, infant exposure to dairy products, high nitrates in drinking water and low vitamin D intake have all been linked to the development of type 1 diabetes.
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), about 1.25 million Americans have type 1 diabetes and an estimated 40,000 people will be newly diagnosed each year in the U.S.
With the case of Type 2 diabetes, blood glucose levels rise higher than normal. This is called hyperglycemia as opposed to hypoglycemia which refers to low blood glucose. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, with approximately 90% of all cases of diabetes worldwide being type 2.
Medical News Today reported that overweight and older people have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Those with a close relative who has the disease, people of Middle Eastern, African, or South Asian descent also have a higher risk of developing the disease, as well as men with low testosterone levels.
“Eating well-balanced meals is an essential part of taking better care of yourself and managing diabetes,” said Kent Donahue, Public Information Officer at Florida Department of Health in Orange County. “So is regular physical activity, which is especially important for people with diabetes and those at risk for diabetes. Balancing what you eat and your physical activity are key.”
The third type is Gestational diabetes. Usually around the 24th week of a pregnancy many women develop this form of the disease. This doesn't mean that she had diabetes before she conceived, or that she will have diabetes after giving birth. Women with gestational diabetes often have no symptoms, which is why it's important for at-risk women to be tested at the proper time during pregnancy and follow their doctor's advice.
Diabetes can cause difficulties during pregnancy such as a miscarriage or a baby born with birth defects.
Some common symptoms of diabetes include: frequent urination, blurry vision, cuts/bruises that are slow to heal, weight loss, lack of energy, and excessive thirst. Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet is one for those developing type 2.
The vast majority of patients with type 2 diabetes initially had prediabetes. Their blood glucose levels where higher than normal, but not high enough to merit a diabetes diagnosis.
Doctors can diagnose patients with one of three different tests: The A1C test, The FPG (fasting plasma glucose) test, and The OGTT (oral glucose tolerance test).
Retinopathy - disease of the eye, Nephropathy - disease of the kidneys, Neuropathy - disease of the nerves, are some complications associated with the disease. Adults with diabetes are 2-4 times also more likely to have heart disease or a stroke than those without.
“There are a number of steps that anyone can take to prevent or delay the development of type 2 diabetes. They include maintaining a healthy weight and staying active — and the ADA recommends incorporating movement of some kind into your day every 30 minutes,” said Matt Petersen, Managing Director of Medical Information at ADA.
“In Florida, it is estimated that over 2.4 million people have diabetes and over 5.8 million have prediabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States,” said Donahue.
While some innovations have allowed those with diabetes to live a “normal” life, Williams’s textbook of Endocrinology revealed that in 2013 it was estimated that over 382 million people throughout the world had diabetes, so only time will reveal the future of this disease.