Take care of diabetes before it kills you

We need food to give us energy. The carbohydrates we consume are eventually broken down into a simple sugar called glucose. Glucose then passes into the bloodstream, where it becomes available for the body to use for growth and energy. Glucose use by cells in the body requires a hormone called insulin which is produced by the pancreas.

In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas makes too little insulin and the cells throughout the body are unable to respond to the insulin that is produced. The result is a build-up of glucose in the blood, which eventually spills over into the urine. High blood glucose levels are responsible for the many health problems associated with diabetes.

* Type 2 diabetes is also known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) or adult onset diabetes. More commonly, it’s called type 2.

How common is type 2 diabetes?

Nearly 90 percent to 95 percent people have type 2 diabetes. People with type 2 usually develop the condition after age 45, and the risk for getting it increases with age. However, the number of children with type 2 diabetes is increasing rapidly. In someone with type 2 diabetes, the pancreas usually produces insulin; but for some reason the body resists the action of the insulin and it does not control blood sugar.

Risk factors

* Obesity. Most people with type 2 diabetes are obese, weighing at least 20 percent more than what is recommended for their height. Insulin resistance increases when weight is too high.

* Heredity. Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes tends to run in families.

* Age. The risk for developing type 2 diabetes increases with age. Half of all new cases of type 2 diabetes occur in people 55 or older. Ten million, or 21 percent, of people 60 and older have diabetes.

* Race. Compared with Caucasians and Asians, type 2 diabetes is more common among American Indians, African-Americans and Hispanics.

* Sedentary Lifestyle. Insulin resistance increases with lack of exercise.

* Women who have had gestational diabetes. Women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy have an increased risk of getting type 2 diabetes later on in life. Women who give birth to babies weighing 9 pounds or more also have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

* Certain medications. The use of certain drugs, including thiazide diuretics and steroids, may contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.

Treatment

Treatment may involve diet modification and exercise alone, oral medications and/or insulin injections to control blood glucose levels.

Self care

You have the power to control your diabetes and live a full life, especially if you follow a few basic principles.

* Get regular care for your diabetes. Make sure you see your health care providers regularly. Check with your doctor to see how often you need to come in. Keep a list of things you want to talk about during your visit.

* Learn as much as you can about your condition. Talk regularly with your health care providers such as the diabetes educator, dietitian and your doctor, about how well you are managing your health and what you can do better. Also research your condition online.

* Keep tight control of your blood sugar by taking your medications, following a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise. This is important for reducing the risk of complications later on. See your doctor to get hemoglobin A1c tests.

* Get regular checkups for eye disease, kidney disease, nerve damage and heart disease.

* Reduce stress. That can cause a rise in blood sugar.

* Exercise regularly. This can help your body to better utilize blood sugar. Check with your doctor first.

* Get vaccinated for the flu and pneumonia.

Recent discoveries in type 2 diabetes Diabetes research has led to better management of not only the disease itself but also the complications that are associated with it. Some of the more recent advances in type 2 diabetes research include:

* Newer drugs to treat type 2 diabetes.

* Better and easier ways to monitor blood glucose levels.

* Laser treatments for diabetic eye disease.

* Insulin pumps, replacing the need for daily insulin injections for some people.

* Newer forms of rapid-acting and long-acting insulin.

* New evidence that drugs called ACE inhibitors prevent or delay diabetic kidney failure.

* The discovery of a number of genes associated with type 2 diabetes.

* Increasing knowledge about the relationship between obesity and type 2 diabetes.

* Continuing research in the area of islet cell transplants and engineered islet cells.

* Treatment with inhaled insulin. Indeed the future for those affected by diabetes looks hopeful. Research during the last 80 years has led to improved management and treatment of diabetes today. Although much work remains in diabetes research, the path to a cure for diabetes is getting shorter each day. What are the signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes? Unlike type 1 diabetes which produces symptoms that cannot be ignored, the symptoms of type 2 diabetes often develop gradually, may be vague in nature and often go unnoticed. The most common symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes include:

* Increased fatigue

* Extreme hunger

* Excessive thirst

* Frequent urination (especially the need to get up during the night to pass urine)

* Blurred vision

* Irritability

* Weight loss

* Frequent infections (especially urinary tract infections, boils, and fungal infections)

Source: The News, 23/7/2008

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