What is Diabetes? And Why Does it Affect So Many People?
Diabetes is a disease which is quite simple to define. A person with diabetes has blood sugar levels which are not considered normal.
Almost all of the food that human beings eat is converted to glucose or sugar in the body. This glucose is used to supply energy for the body. The organ which controls the levels of glucose in the body is called the pancreas. When sugar is available for use, the pancreas secretes a hormone called insulin which allows the sugar to enter cells and perform work.
If the pancreas is unable to secrete enough insulin or is damaged in some way, glucose often will continue to build up in the bloodstream. This is what is commonly called “high blood sugar” or diabetes.
There are several types of diabetes but the disease has a fairly well-defined series of symptoms. These symptoms include extreme thirst, extreme hunger, unexplained weight loss, changes in vision and very dry skin.
Many people are diabetic and are not aware of their condition. A blood test is normally used to diagnose the disease. The test measures the amount of sugar in the bloodstream at certain times of the day or after meals that contain large amounts of sugar.
Some risk factors for this disease include a family history of diabetes, an episode of gestational diabetes during pregnancy, obesity and other genetic or environmental factors. Diabetes is divided into three main categories.
Type I Diabetes occurs in about five percent of the population. This type generally requires insulin injections or supplements. The onset is normally during puberty rather than as an adult.
Type II Diabetes is the most common form of this disease. About ninety percent of all cases of this disease are adult onset type cases. Type II Diabetes generally does not require insulin injections or supplements for control of blood sugar levels.
Diet and exercise are commonly recommended for this form of diabetes. The patient is required to monitor his or her blood sugar frequently and adjust food intake to create a level of blood sugar that is normal. Exercise alone can also lower blood sugar significantly. Some cases of Type II Diabetes do require oral medication or insulin injections.
Gestational diabetes occurs in about five to ten percent of pregnancies. It is generally treated with exercise and diet changes and disappears after the birth of the child. Unfortunately, women with a history of gestational diabetes tend to be much more likely to get the disease later in life.
There are other types of diabetes which come from surgical problems, genetic issues, malnutrition and drug use. These are relatively rare and occur in about five percent of the reported cases of the disease.
There currently is no cure for diabetes. There are several options being tested in hopes of curing this disease. These options include pancreatic transplants, artificial pancreas creation or genetic manipulation. Unfortunately, none of these solutions are viable at this time.
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