What is diabetes and why should we learn about it? Diabetes has been one of the major health problems affecting approximately 246 million people around the globe. The number of diabetic people around the globe has been increasing so rapidly that the figure is expected to rise to 380 million by 2025. Diabetes affects people in many ways that’s why the fact that many diabetic people don’t even know they have the disease should alarm those who are experiencing its symptoms.
Diabetes is a malfunction of a body’s metabolism. Either a person’s pancreas does not produce enough insulin, the hormone responsibly for regulating one’s blood sugar, or he does not use insulin properly. That means that the glucose one takes in from carbohydrates and sugar are not properly utilized by the body. Instead of being used as energy, glucose stays in one’s blood streams causing some serious damage to organs like heart, eyes and kidneys.
Types of Diabetes
There are three main types of diabetes:
1. Type 1 diabetes– sometimes called insulin-dependent, immune-mediated or juvenile-onset diabetes
Type 1 diabetes occurs when a person’s pancreas produces too little or no insulin at all. Insulin-producing beta cells are attacked by the body’s defense system which hinders sugar from entering body cells. Without right amount of insulin in the body, cells will always be in need of glucose supply causing constant hunger to a diabetic person. However, when a person eats every time he feels hungry, the sugar level in his blood will rapidly increase, blocking the blood vessels in the body. Higher blood sugar level also makes a person urinate more, making him both thirsty and hungry most of the time.
This can be rapidly fatal without regular insulin injections to regulate one’s sugar in his blood.
Symptoms of type 1 diabetes are: excessive excretion of urine (polyuria), thirst (polydipsia), constant hunger, weight loss, vision changes, fatigue and some infections. When these symptoms occur but stay untreated for a long time, the person might also suffer from sleepiness, stomach pain, vomiting, rapid breathing, and increased pulse rate. This is due to the chemicals produced by the body called ketones. When at this stage the patient is still not treated, diabetes might lead to coma and death.
2. Type 2 diabetes– sometimes called non-insulin dependent diabetes or adult-onset diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes around the world, 90% of people with diabetes are suffering from this. This is not caused by any abnormality in insulin production but is usually the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity. People with type 2 diabetes are not dependent on insulin injections because they can just usually maintain their blood sugar level by watching their diet and activities.
This usually affects adults from 45 years and older. However, as many young people are becoming overweight and obese, diabetes type 2 is already becoming common among the youth.
Symptoms for type 2 diabetes are so much like the type 1although it is often not as obvious. They are: increased thirst and frequent urination, increased hunger, weight loss, blurred vision, erectile dysfunction, frequent slow-healing infections.
3. Gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes occurs when non-diabetic women get abnormal blood sugar level during pregnancy affecting about 3 to 6 % of all pregnant women. Usually begins at weeks 24 to 28 of pregnancy, gestational diabetes goes away after the delivery of the child. Unlike the other two kinds of diabetes, women with gestational diabetes produce normal amount of insulin but their bodies are still not able to utilize glucose because of the hormones, such as progesterone, estrogen and placental lactogen, blocking their blood streams. These hormones are produced in the placenta to nourish the growing fetus.
Symptoms of gestational diabetes are so much like types 1 and 2:Increased thirst, increased urination, increased hunger and blurred vision.