Posted by Denise on 12 6th, 2009 | 40 responses

What is Diabetes?

Why Should You Care About Diabetes?

November was American Diabetes Month®.

If your goal is the have a healthy body, you need to know what can happen to it as you age.  Diabetes can affect anyone.  Why should you care about diabetes?  Because it is the leading cause of kidney disease, blindness, and amputations, yet nearly 25% of people who have it don’t even know it. In the United States 24 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes and the American Diabetes Association estimates that there are another 6 million who have the disease but don’t know it. So chances are, you or someone you love have been affected by diabetes in some way. But even if you haven’t been affected by diabetes, you need to know that diabetes is one of the major public health crises of the 21st century, and it continues to grow to epidemic proportions. And a very worrisome concern is that the death rate for diabetes has continued to grow since 1987, whereas the death rates due to heart disease, stroke and cancer have actually declined.

What’s Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose levels are elevated because of inadequate insulin production in the pancreas or from insulin resistance in the cells of the body, felt to be caused by obesity and an unhealthy diet. Elevated blood sugar levels are quite damaging to your cells and this can lead to short-term and long-term complications.

Diabetes

There are three types of diabetes – type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, formerly called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes is usually first diagnosed in children, teenagers, or young adults. In this form of diabetes, felt to be caused by an autoimmune response that essentially destroys the beta cells of the pancreas so that they no longer produce insulin, daily insulin administration is a lifelong reality. Treatment also includes a healthy diet, close monitoring of carbohydrate intake, calorie control and regular exercise to minimize complications.

Type 2 diabetes, formerly called adult-onset or non-insulin-dependent diabetes, is the most common form of diabetes. Approximately 90% of all people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. People can develop type 2 diabetes at any age, even during childhood. This form of diabetes usually begins with insulin resistance, a condition in which cells in fat, muscle and liver tissue do not use insulin properly. At first, the pancreas keeps up with the added demand by producing more insulin. Over time, however, the pancreas can no longer secrete enough insulin and blood sugars begin to rise. People who are overweight and inactive are FAR more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Treatment includes a healthy diet, weight loss, exercise and ultimately the need for diabetes medications if people are not successful with weight loss and calorie control.

Gestational diabetes is an all too common complication of pregnancy, usually developing in women who have an excessive weight gain during pregnancy. Although this type of diabetes usually goes away after childbirth, these women are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

This is the first in a series on Diabetes.  Come back again.  Thanks Denise



40 Responses to “What is Diabetes?”

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