Category Archives: Diabetes Explained

Diabetes Explained: What is Diabetes

Diabetes Mellitus popularly knows as Diabetes is a chronic and a progressive illness where the body doesn’t use the insulin effectively or doesn’t create a sufficient amount of insulin. Diabetes is a serious illness that takes more than 3 million lives each year; according to the latest statistics over 170 million people are affected by Diabetes Mellitus. Diabetes is a very serious illness obviously and if not treated properly it can become a life threatening condition, in order to deal with diabetes you have to learn the symptoms, what are the causes of diabetes and prevention and treatment options available.

Diabetes MellitusDefinition of diabetes according to Wikipedia: “Diabetes mellitus, often simply referred to as diabetes—is a group of metabolic diseases in which a person has high blood sugar, either because the body does not produce enough insulin, or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced. This high blood sugar produces the classical symptoms of polyuria (frequent urination), polydipsia (increased thirst) and polyphagia (increased hunger).”

Our body needs insulin, a hormone which is produced by the pancreas and is used to move (transport) energy in the form of glucose from the food we consume into our cells. Insulin is a requirement for us, and based on the type of Diabetes there are different methods to treat diabetes and of course different symptoms caused by Diabetes Mellitus. The basic types of Diabetes Mellitus are:

–    Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus – this type of Diabetes is when our body has difficulties producing sufficient amounts of insulin and as such it is required that we intake insulin on a regular level
–    Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus – This type of Diabetes is when our cells fail to use insulin in the proper way and thus fail to provide the body with sufficient energy levels
–    Gestational Diabetes – Is found strictly with pregnant women who never before had Diabetes but have high blood glucose levels showing during their pregnancy, it can develop into Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
–    There are also other rare types of Diabetes Mellitus to worry about – Congenital Diabetes that causes insulin secretion defects on a genetic level, Cystic Fibrosis Diabetes, Steroid Diabetes and different forms of Monogenic Diabetes.

All of these forms of Diabetes Mellitus are treated thanks to discovery of Insulin, early diagnosis and proper treatment are the key factors in living a normal life when you are diagnosed with any type of Diabetes.

Diabetes Explained: What is Diabetes
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Diabetes Explained: Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus

Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus is the most feared type of diabetes. The type 1 diabetes occurs because our pancreas doesn’t produce insulin or produces it in very little quantities. Since insulin helps our body to use and absorb nutrients our body needs from food and to build up proteins and even store fat, without it our blood sugar levels go up. Since this is a serious condition, in most cases fatal if not treated, type 1 diabetes mellitus requires constant treatment with insulin.

type 1 diabetes mellitusDefinition of Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus according to Wikipedia: “Diabetes mellitus type 1 (Type 1 diabetes, IDDM, or juvenile diabetes) is a form of diabetes mellitus that results from autoimmune destruction of insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. The subsequent lack of insulin leads to increased blood and urine glucose. The classical symptoms of polyuria (frequent urination), polydipsia (increased thirst), polyphagia (increased hunger), and weight loss result.”

As you can see above the common symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus are frequent urination, increased thirst and increased hunger and in most cases significant weight loss. Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus usually occurs at a young age, but it can develop at any time. It is a gene predisposition which enables this disease, but it can be triggered by outside sources.

In most cases the Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus develops as a result of our body’s autoimmune response, which is when our immune system destroys the cells which produce insulin in our pancreas. This process can last a few months or even years, and the symptoms mentioned above are usually seen when over 90% of the cells have been destroyed.

The Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus can develop if a person has a family history of Diabetes but it can develop without anyone having Type 1 Diabetes in your family. It can also be triggered by outside sources that cause the drop of our immune system and start the autoimmune response. But if anyone in your family has Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus you should check yourself and watch for the signs, as people with Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus in the family have higher chances of developing it themselves.

Once you have been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus you will undergo constant treatment in which you will receive insulin for the rest of your life. Depending on various factors like your weight, sugar levels and time of reaction you may receive larger or smaller quantities of insulin daily. Also, depending on those factors you may receive one of several types of insulin available.

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Diabetes Explained: Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus is the most widespread type of Diabetes on the planet. Millions of people across the globe are affected by Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and at least 30% of them are not aware of that yet. Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus is diagnosed when the body doesn’t produce sufficient quantities of insulin or our cells ignore and reject the insulin. Our body runs on glucose, which is broken down from starches and sugars. When glucose goes into our blood and builds up there instead of going to our cells that leads to Diabetes complications.

type 2 diabetes mellitusDefinition of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus by Wikipedia: “Diabetes mellitus type 2 – formerly non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) or adult-onset diabetes – is a metabolic disorder that is characterized by high blood glucose in the context of insulin resistance and relative insulin deficiency. Diabetes is often initially managed by increasing exercise and dietary modification. As the condition progresses, medications may be needed.”

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus is caused by genetic factors and environmental factors. People with family members that have Type 2 Diabetes are more likely to suffer from the same condition. Not just diabetes, but other medical issues as well, like high blood pressure, obesity or high cholesterol levels. Certain ethnic groups have higher chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus; African, Asian and Hispanic are more likely to develop this condition. What we eat and how active we are as well as genetic causes are all part of developing Type 2 Diabetes.

Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus are the same as with Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus. Once diagnosed you need to be treated or Diabetes can lead to other complications that will endanger your health. In most cases you will not have to take insulin like with Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus, but you will need to take certain medication and monitor your blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels. Regular activity and prescribed diet should keep your Type 2 Diabetes in check.

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Diabetes Explained: Gestational Diabetes

Gestational Diabetes is a type of diabetes found only in pregnant women. Around 4% of pregnant women will develop this type of Diabetes during their pregnancy, which doesn’t necessarily mean that they will have diabetes after giving birth to their child. Unlike Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, Gestational Diabetes carries a great risk for the baby.

Gestational DiabetesGestational Diabetes according to Wikipedia: “Gestational diabetes (or gestational diabetes mellitus, GDM) is a condition in which women without previously diagnosed diabetes exhibit high blood glucose levels during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes generally has few symptoms and it is most commonly diagnosed by screening during pregnancy. Diagnostic tests detect inappropriately high levels of glucose in blood samples. Gestational diabetes affects 3-10% of pregnancies, depending on the population studied. No specific cause has been identified, but it is believed that the hormones produced during pregnancy increase a woman’s resistance to insulin, resulting in impaired glucose tolerance. “

Causes of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus are not quite known, but due to hormonal changes during the pregnancy your body has a hard time keeping up with the needs and the production of insulin. In the end the woman’s body doesn’t get enough energy from the intake of food.

The symptoms are exactly like with Type1 Diabetes Mellitus and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. What causes the biggest issue with this type of diabetes is the risk for the baby. If Gestational Diabetes is caught in time there shouldn’t be a great risk, but if left unchecked it can cause the following issues:

–    Baby can have a low blood glucose right after being born
–    Baby can also have breathing problems
–    Can have extra fat

To make sure that your baby is ok the doctors will run immediate tests like ultrasound, special stress tests and kick counts. The issue here is that both mother and child are at risk of having Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus for the rest of their lives.

In some cases the symptoms of Gestational Diabetes will not show but nevertheless they may cause increased risk of high blood pressure, possibility of giving birth to a large baby which would require a Cesarean section.

On the bright side in most cases Gestational Diabetes disappears after giving birth. But if you are not careful later you are at high risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. You may also develop Gestational Diabetes if you get pregnant again.

Treatment is based on the seriousness of your condition. In some cases insulin may be needed, but in most cases a prescribed diet and regular activity will help you overcome this condition.

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Diabetes Explained: Rare Types of Diabetes Mellitus

There are various rare types of Diabetes Mellitus. Some of them are genetic and other are caused by environmental causes, like steroid diabetes which is caused by misuse of steroids which leads the body’s imbalance and causes the body to produce insulin in little quantities or leaves the body in a state in which the body cannot fully process the insulin.

Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young

Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young

There are types of Diabetes Mellitus that are paired with certain diseases and cause a new breed of diabetes, like Cystic Fibrosis Diabetes Mellitus which is only found with people who have Cystic Fibrosis.

The fact is that most of these rare forms of Diabetes are still a mystery to us and we know very little about them, for example Congenital Diabetes Mellitus which causes insulin secretion defects on a genetic level. We are still not sure what causes it and how to deal with it. From the rare types of Diabetes Mellitus there are three forms that are researched in detail, MODY or Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young, Impaired Glucose Tolerance and Metabolic Syndrome or Syndrome X.

MODY – Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young

MODY or Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young is genetically inherited type of Diabetes Mellitus. Unlike other types of Diabetes mellitus where the inheritance is only a risk factor, with MODY this is a trait. It is very similar to the Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus as it leads to insulin deficiency. Unlike regular Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus where the average diabetics are over-weight and older in age, MODY claims thin and active people in their early twenties and late teens. MODY doesn’t always require insulin treatment, it is different from case to case. One of its traits is that it is hardly recognized in the early stages and most people find out about it in their early twenties. Only 2% of Diabetics have Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young.

Impaired Glucose Tolerance

“Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) is a pre-diabetic state of dysglycemia that is associated with insulin resistance and increased risk of cardiovascular pathology. IGT may precede type 2 diabetes mellitus by many years. IGT is also a risk factor for mortality.” As described on the Wikipedia.

Metabolic Syndrome – Syndrome X

Metabolic Syndrome or popularly known as Syndrome X is actually a combination of various medical disorders which increase the risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. What is the scariest part about Metabolic Syndrome is that it affects 1 out of 5 people, and with age it turns into Diabetes Mellitus if not treated properly. Almost one quarter of the population in the US suffer from Metabolic Syndrome.

These are all serious conditions that need to be treated. Rare types of Diabetes Mellitus are always a great issue as they are very hard to notice, which is their greatest difficulty. Keeping constant checkups with your doctor will ensure that you recognize any of these types of Diabetes Mellitus in time.

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At Risk of Diabetes Mellitus – Frightening Statistics

Diabetes is the most widespread diseases in the world, in the US alone there are over 24 million people, both adults and children, suffering from a form of Diabetes Mellitus. That is almost 8% of the total US population, in other words, every 12th person in the US has a form of Diabetes Mellitus.

Maybe the even more frightening is when we present the numbers in this way; there are 18 million diagnosed people with Diabetes and almost 6 million undiagnosed people with Diabetes. And almost 60 million, yes, 60 million people are in a pre-diabetes state!

Diabetes ExplainedAlthough some types of diabetes are known to form in the early age in pre teen years and early adulthood so far people under the age of 20 have the least percentage of diabetes. One out of 400 kids in the age group between 12 and 19 has diabetes and over 2 millions kids in this group have pre-diabetes.

When we go pass 20 things start to get really heavy as people between 20 and 60 years old are in real danger of diabetes, in fact there are more than 23 million people in this age group with a form of diabetes which makes more than 10% of the US population. There is not a big difference when we compare men and women; there are about 12 million men with diabetes while there are about 11.5 million women.

But there is a slight difference when we compare the age group of above 20 years according to ethnicity. Around 6.6% of Caucasians have diabetes, 7.5% of Asians have diabetes and the highest percentage of people with diabetes is Hispanic with 10.4% and African Americans with 11.8%.

As the largest spread disease in the world it is no wonder that diabetes mellitus is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. There are many complications with our health that can start with diabetes. Almost 70% of people over 65 years of age with diabetes had a heart disease and 16% of them had a stroke. If we compare heart disease rates among people with diabetes and people without diabetes we can see that there are 3 times more heart disease deaths with people who have diabetes, the same goes for strokes.

Other complications that are very common with people who have diabetes include high blood pressure; in fact 3 out of 4 people with diabetes has high blood pressure. Not just that, diabetes is the number one leading cause of blindness in the world. It can also cause various kidney diseases and kidney failure and even neuropathy with mild or severe damage to the nervous system.

Most people fear being amputated, which is unfortunately an often the case with people who have diabetes. Over 60% of non-traumatic lower limb amputations are performed on people with diabetes.

You can clearly see that diabetes is a major health issue in the US and round the world. The statistics here are very clear, so you can imagine the issue here. One of the concerns that follows with such a number of people who have diabetes is the cost of medical treatment. Research conducted in 2007 showed that if it weren’t for diabetes the medical costs in the US would be 2.3 times smaller, which are amazingly high numbers.

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Myths Surrounding Diabetes Mellitus

Unfortunately Diabetes Mellitus is one of those things that are covered with myths, and it’s actually strange. This is the most widespread disease in the world, you would think that people are more knowledgeable about this subject, but no, some of the myths surrounding diabetes mellitus are really special. Although I would like to say that this is funny it’s not, it doesn’t help people understand Diabetes nor does it help people with Diabetes properly live with it.

diabetes mythThe ADA recently conducted a test of knowledge regarding diabetes, unfortunately our citizens didn’t score that well. One of the most common myths is that Diabetes is not a serious disease. Well, people would change their opinion if they knew that Diabetes causes more deaths each year than HIV and cancer combined.

Another myth that is popular in the US is that overweight and obese people will sooner or later develop diabetes mellitus type 2. Well this is utterly ridiculous as most overweight people don’t have diabetes type 2 and there are plenty of slim people with this type of diabetes. Yes, being obese is one of the factors that lead to diabetes, but just one out of many like ethnicity, family history, age and plenty of other risk factors.

This one you probably heard about, high quantities of sugar cause diabetes. That’s not true. Diabetes mellitus type one is mostly caused because of genetic predispositions and some still unknown factors. Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus is caused by our lifestyle and genetic factors. Any type of high calorie diet contributes to the fact that we can develop Diabetes, so sugar is just one out of many types of food that can eventually contribute to the condition of developing diabetes.

Another very common myth, one I must admit I believed myself is that people with diabetes need to eat diabetic foods. There is no such thing as a diabetic food; it’s just a normal healthy diet that all of us should eat low fat and moderate salt and sugar with plenty of vegetables and fruits.

Also a common myth that you probably heard about is that people with diabetes cannot eat chocolate and sweets, well it’s the same myth like the one with sugars. The only thing you need to do if you have diabetes is to eat them as a part of a diet plan or with certain exercises, they are no unhealthier to people with diabetes than to anyone else.

This is one myth that actually surprised me; people think that diabetes can be passed on from someone else. Well it can’t, diabetes can be developed due to some genetic predispositions but it is not contagious. So it’s not like we are talking about the flu.

The last myth we will present is about diets when you have diabetes, one common myth is that since fruits are healthy you can eat as much as you want. Well fruit is a healthy type of food, there are minerals, fibers and vitamins, but like any other food they have carbohydrates and taking them in a larger amount can be bad for your health. So you need to consult with your doctor about the amount you can consume every day.

I hope we cleared some myths related to Diabetes mellitus. Don’t believe everything you hear, and if you or someone close to you has Diabetes or any other diseases the best course of action is to talk to your doctor and seek professional help and advice rather than rely on hearsay.

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