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Diabetes - A Disease Of The Modern Age

Posted by Terry Cod on Sep 4th, 2007 in Information, Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes

There are two major variations of the disease – Type 1 and Type 2, and they are completely different in root cause. There also exists a type of the disease known as gestational diabetes that is only suffered by pregnant women.

To understand the disease, we must first understand the role that insulin plays in our body. When we consume glucose, fructose or carbohydrates, our body breaks them down into glucose within the blood stream. For us to be able to use the glucose for energy, our pancreas produces insulin which ‘unlocks’ receptors in our cells and permits the glucose to enter the cells and be used for energy.

In Type 1 diabetes the body fails to produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar adequately. It is often referred to as insulin dependant diabetes or juvenile diabetes, and it is usually found in people under the age of 30.

The symptoms come on quite quickly and is characterized by severe thirst brought on by an excess of glucose in the blood stream. This consequently results in frequent urination, another symptom. It is a chronic condition – in other words, it is a lifelong condition. It seems that the pancreatic cells that normally produce the insulin could have been damaged or destroyed by the body’s own immune system.

Type 1 diabetics make up around 5-10% of diabetes sufferers and it is treated by introducing insulin either by drip feed or more normally by regular injection. There is a danger for type 1 diabetics that they may suddenly lose consciousness and they are also at serious risk of contracting further complications in later life.

A recent medical breakthrough has formulated a new treatment involving the transplantation of islet cells, and although the patient has to take anti-rejection drugs, the newly introduced cells are able to produce insulin and patients in the medical trial have reported significantly reduced levels of insulin injection. The hope is that the injections may eventually be totally eliminated through the use of islet cell transplants.

Type 1 diabetics are liable in their later years to be affected by micro-vascular disorders, vascular disorders, sight problems and kidney problems due mainly to deterioration in their blood vessels.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90-95% of diabetes cases. Sufferers from type 2 diabetes can manufacture insulin, but their cell receptors have become resistant to insulin. Thus, their body has to produce ever increasing amounts of insulin in order to ‘unlock’ the cells so that they can utilise the glucose from the blood stream. Eventually, these sufferers reach the point where they are unable to produce enough insulin to lower the sugar levels in their blood stream.

Type 2 diabetes affects 15-20% of those over the age of 60. A large number of adults have the disease but are undiagnosed. It is frequently discovered during a physical check-up following complaints of problems such as urinary, skin or chest infections.

Type 2 diabetes can be managed through weight reduction and diet control or with prescription medicines. Although there is a definite genetic link to the disease in a high number of cases, it is brought about by being overweight, a lack of exercise and pursuing a diet full of high glycaemic index carbohydrates (sugar, white bread, white rice and fruit).Weight management, exercise and an eating regime low in sugars, fructose and processed carbohydrates are acknowledged to be important as avoidance techniques.

More alarming is the recent trend of children being found suffering from Type 2 diabetes. This is thought to be due to the prevalence of childhood obesity, together with the shortage of exercise that overweight children take and the foods they eat that are high in sugar and carbohydrates with a high glycaemic index.

Gestational diabetes affects around 4% of women during their pregnancy. Most women recover from this form of the illness after giving birth, but it does seem to indicate a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes in later life.

The most common symptom of diabetes is unquenchable thirst and subsequent regular urination. Other symptoms include unexplained weight loss, dizziness, constant fatigue, itching and leg pains walking.

If diabetes just meant taking insulin for the remainder of your life, it wouldn’t be such a serious disorder. Sadly, people suffering from diabetes have a variety of increased risks including:

  • twice the rate of heart disease as non-diabetics
  • five times the risk of having a stroke
  • the most frequent need for limb amputations outside of accidents
  • diabetes is the most likely cause in all new cases of blindness in people aged 24 to 74
  • the cause of over 33% of new kidney diseases and the leading cause of end-stage renal disease.

Accurate and consistent management of blood sugars reduces the odds of any of the above occurring.

Related Posts:
  1. Insulin Resistance: the Plague of Modern Society!
  2. New Treatment for Diabetes
  3. What is Insulin Resistance?
  4. Cause And Consequence: Type 2 Diabetes Explained
  5. Insulin Resistance - How It Starts and What We Can Do about It
  6. Diabetes and Exercise
  7. Insulin Resistance and Morbid Obesity
  8. How Insulin Functions in a Normal Body
  9. What are the Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes?
  10. Insulin Resistance and Morbid Obesity

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