Diabetes has become an increasing epidemic in the United States as our waistlines continue to expand. There are currently three types of Diabetes: Type 1, which is an autoimmune disease associated with adolescents; Type 2, which is associated with being overweight and was traditionally considered adult-onset; and Gestational Diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy. Although each are under the umbrella term “Diabetes”, there are variations in what causes each and how the body responds to each one. Because 85-95% of those with Diabetes have Type 2 (Diabetes Mellitus), for this blog I will write only about this type.
Pathology: When your body eats food, the sugars get broken down into glucose. This glucose is sent throughout your body as an energy store. One of the ways it is transported and further broken down is through insulin, a hormone secreted from your pancreas. Those with Type 2 Diabetes do not make enough insulin for the food they eat. So, instead of being broken down and stored as energy, the glucose stays in the blood stream, giving the diabetic too much sugar (glucose) in the blood.
This condition of having too high of blood sugar is called hyperglycemia. Over time, this extra blood sugar can cause terrible side effects including: blurred vision, excessive thirst and urination, dry mouth with a fruity smell, recurrent vaginal yeast infections, decreased consciousness, sadness, and ketoacidosis, a condition that can be fatal.
Because Diabetes occurs when there is not enough insulin in the body, it usually goes hand in hand with being overweight. The more body mass one has, the more likely it is that the body will not be able to produce enough insulin to break down the excessive consumption of food.
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Extreme tiredness
- Blurry vision
- Weight loss
- Genital itching
- Slow healing wounds
Treatment:For those with less severe diabetes, the disease can be controlled through better diet and exercise. The next level requires a combination of better diet and exercise with daily oral medication. The most severe level requires diet, exercise, and insulin injections. Some may even use an insulin pump, a device that continually monitors glucose levels and distributes the right amount of insulin into the body at all times.
Prevention: The best way to prevent Type 2 Diabetes is to make sure that you have a healthy body weight. Below you will find a BMI (Body Mass Index) chart , which gives a rough guide to how much you should weigh. (This chart is not accurate for those with a lot of muscle mass, or for those under 18). An easy way to maintain a healthy weight is to make sure you get at least 30 minutes of moderate to heavy exercise on most days. You should also eat a proper diet that keeps your cholesterol and blood pressure in a healthy range. Please consult your physician for proper dieting advice.
- Having a close family member with Diabetes Type 2
- Being overweight
- Family background is Alaska Native, American Indian, African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American, or Pacific Islander.
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease
- Having a baby that weighed more than 9 pounds at birth
Mortality (# of deaths):3 million deaths a year
Morbidity (incidence of disease):171,000,000 people in the world currently have Diabetes. About 10% live in the US
Epidemiology (Where it occurs):80% of those living with Diabetes are middle aged (45-64) and live in lower or middle income countries.
Interesting Facts/ Statistics:
- In 2002, the US spent an estimated $24.6 billion for the complications associated with diabetes, and an additional $44.1 billion for the condition itself. People with diabetes incur approximately $11,000 extra in medical costs compared to those who do not have diabetes.
- Diabetics CAN have sugar. In fact, if they did not have any sugar, they would likely be unhealthy. This common misconception is because many refined sugars (chocolate, candy, juice, etc) cause a rapid rise in glucose levels. But, if a person has good control over their Diabetes, they can and should be able to have sugar in moderation just like anyone else.
- Diabetes causes about 5% of the global deaths every year.
- Diabetes is projected to increase 50% over the next 10 years if there is no urgent action.
What you can do:The most important thing you can do is stay healthy! Eat a proper diet and make sure to get some exercise. Also, if you think you are at a higher risk for Diabetes, make sure to discuss getting tested with your physician. There are simple fasting blood tests that can be good indicators for whether you are prone to have Diabetes so you can prevent it before it starts.
For more information:The best scientists and researchers check all the data for themselves! Please consult these websites to learn more.