Diabetes Overview and Guide
Diabetes has many forms include diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidis. The most common of the diabetes is the diabetes mellitus which is a group of diseases that affect the blood glucose or blood sugar. Diabetes has an impact on how the body uses blood glucose. The term diabetes means that there is too much glucose or sugar in the blood which can lead to serious health implications if left untreated.
Chronic diabetes conditions such as Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes and reversible conditions such as prediabetes all relate to conditions in which the blood sugar levels are higher than normal and must be treated. For people with prediabetes these symptoms can be reversed so that diabetes does not result. Also, gestational diabetes is another concern which is a condition in which a woman develops diabetes during pregnancy. This type of diabetes may or may not go away following the birth of the child.
Symptoms of Diabetes
The symptoms of diabetes are slightly different for each type of diabetes. Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes may include the symptoms of being thirsty all the time, urinating often and feeling extremely hungry at times. For some, weight loss and fatigue may also accompany diabetes but not for all. People with diabetes usually have slow healing times especially on the limbs or extremities due to poor circulation.
Type 1 diabetes is most often present at an early age such as during childhood or early adolescence but it may appear later in life as well. Type 2 diabetes is a preventable form of diabetes that was once reserved for adults who had poor eating habits or who were overweight but has now affected an equally high number of children as a result of poor habits in diet and exercise.
Diabetes Causes and Risk Factors
The cause of diabetes most often depends on the type of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a condition in which the immune system attacks and destroys insulin cells leaving little or no insulin to to work with the blood sugar. As a result the sugar builds in the body and this can cause dire side effects for the individual. Type 1 diabetes is most often inherited or genetic and cannot be prevented.
Type 2 diabetes is often preventable. With type 2 diabetes, the cells are resistant to insulin and the pancreas cannot make enough insulin to overcome the resistance which results in the blood sugar being high. Excess fat, especially abdominal fat may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Healthy people who take part in diet and exercise are at a lowered risk of developing this type of diabetes.
People who are overweight or are not physically active may be at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Physical activity uses up glucose and makes the cells more receptive to the insulin which can greatly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Additionally, family history and race also increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. People who have parents or siblings with diabetes and blacks, Hispanics, American Indians and Asian Americans are all at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Treatment for Diabetes
Treatment for diabetes depends on the type of diabetes that the individual has. Treatments range from dietary changes to changes in physical activity, surgery to medication. Depending on the blood sugar levels, the insulin production levels and other factors all play a role in determining the best possible treatments for diabetes.
Blood sugar monitoring is important for all types of diabetes. Some treatment plans will require that the individual monitor and record blood sugar a few times a week or even multiple times per day. Careful monitoring of the blood sugar is the most effective way to assure that the blood sugar levels remain within the target range for the individual.
Blood sugar may change in response to diet, exercise, mood, medication, illness, alcohol and even stress so it is important to understand how these changes can effect the individual and the body. Depending on the levels of blood sugar, insulin may or may not be needed. People who have type 1 diabetes must have insulin in order to survive but those with type 2 diabetes may or may not need insulin for effective treatment of the diabetes.
Most often, insulin is injected with a syringe or with an insulin pen. For severe diabetes, an insulin pump may be required as part of the treatment protocol for diabetes. The insulin pump is a small device that is worn outside the body but has a catheter that is inserted just under the skin of the abdomen. The pump is programmed to dispense a set amount of insulin automatically and can easily be adjusted to deliver more or less insulin based on activity.
For people with type 1 diabetes, a pancreas transplant may also be a viable treatment option for the diabetes. Pancreas transplants can result in the patient never needing insulin again because the new pancreas would deliver the correct amount of insulin and prevent blood sugar levels from rising. Unfortunately, transplant rejection drugs would be required in order to prevent the pancreas from being rejected and these may have considerable side effects that are not worth the risk.