Diabetes is quite a common ailment. Over 29 million people in the United States have it, which means just under 10% of the population has diabetes. Aside from those 29 million, there are an additional 8.1 million that are unaware and undiagnosed. In recent times, diabetes has become increasingly prevalent.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common; 90-95% of diabetes cases are type 2. While diagnoses are on the rise, the disease is largely preventable.
Diabetes is a kind of umbrella term. There are many different types of diabetes that fall under the heading of diabetes. There are types that may be reversible, such as prediabetes or gestational diabetes. However, there are also the two types of chronic diabetes that seem to be what most people think of when they think of the term “diabetes.” These are separated into type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Your immune system is essential in fighting off viruses or harmful bacteria, but it can also play a role in type 1 diabetes. In this disease, the immune system defends the body from cells within in the pancreas which produce insulin. In turn, there is no insulin in the body and sugar builds up in the system.
Type 2 diabetes is different. Cells in the body are resisting the actions of insulin, and the pancreas cannot create enough to compensate. Again, sugar builds up in the body and leads to the symptoms of diabetes.
Symptoms can change depending on the amount of sugar in the blood. Occasionally, individuals may not experience initial symptoms. This is typically in cases of prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. However, in type 1 diabetes, the symptoms are usually more severe and come on more suddenly.
Some of the most common symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are:
♦ Extreme hunger
♦ Increased thirst
♦ Frequent urination
♦ Unexplained weight loss
♦ Ketones in the urine
♦ Blurred vision
♦ Frequent infections
♦ Slow-healing sores
The direct causes of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are unknown. The going assumption is that genetics and environment play a key role. There is a link between developing type 2 diabetes and being overweight, though not everyone that develops type 2 diabetes is overweight.
Family history plays a role. You are more likely to develop type 1 diabetes if a family member has it. There are also circumstances in the diet that may lead to type 1 diabetes, such as a vitamin D deficiency, exposure to cereals before four months, and early exposure to cow’s milk. There is no proven, direct correlation, but have been commonly found in those with type 1 diabetes.
There are clear factors that increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Most of them are linked to physical activity and diet. Being overweight and inactive increases your risk, as well as having high blood pressure. The risk also increases with age, contrary to type 1 diabetes.
Diabetes also seems to target certain ethnic groups. Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and African Americans are more likely to develop diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented. However, because the preventative actions taken to treat the other types of diabetes are essentially healthy lifestyle choices, they can also be used as treatment techniques.
Eating a healthy diet plays a definite role in preventing the development of type 2 diabetes. Reducing your consumption of foods that are high in fat and calories is essential, as well as increasing your intake of fiber. Avoid trans fats and lower your intake of saturated fats.
Monitoring your intake of carbohydrates is also important. A doctor can help you work out how much you need versus how many you are eating in order to maintain a consistent blood sugar level.
Increasing activity is also helpful. If every day had at least thirty minutes of moderate activity, your risk would be greatly lessened. In those who are at risk of developing diabetes, exercise can even prevent the disease from evolving. However, it is crucial to talk to your doctor before embarking on any exercise regimen.
Lose weight. Losing 5-10% of your body weight can help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Making permanent changes to your life is helpful not only to reduce the risk, but also to increase your overall quality of life.
Diabetes has to be treated by a doctor, however. You cannot treat it on your own. Working with a physician will help you develop a plan of action that includes changes in eating, activity, and lifestyle, leading to a higher success rate. You may also need to rely on professionals, such as nutritionists or specialists.
Treatment begins with blood sugar monitoring. A doctor will set a goal for your blood sugar levels and with a combination of exercise, diet, and medication, will minimize the steep changes in blood sugar.
Common changes that you should consider might be to wear a MedicAlert bracelet or tag that shows you have diabetes. Making others aware of your situation can be scary at first, but helpful in the long run. Brushing and flossing your teeth also becomes much more crucial to a healthy mouth, as diabetes has the potential to deteriorate gums and even lead to disease.
There are also some alternative methods of treatment on the market, but many of them have less conclusive evidence than the tried and true methods of blood sugar monitoring. There are vitamins, such as B, C, and E, that can help limit the damage done to the body. Magnesium can also be helpful in controlling blood sugar levels.
There are also herbal remedies for nerve pain that is common in diabetic patients. Capsaicin cream has been cited as being helpful in lowering pain in the extremities. Primrose oil can help diabetic nerve pain as well.
Diabetes can be prevented if the steps are taken early. While prevention and treatment require a whole lifestyle overhaul, it is worth it for good health. Eat right, move more, and stay at a healthy weight.