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In the United States, an estimated 16 million people have diabetes. Diabetes is a serious lifelong condition. Half the 16 million people who have diabetes do not even realize the condition exists and are not receiving treatment. 798,000 people each year are diagnosed with diabetes. It occurs most often in adults, but it is also one of the most chronic disorder in children. It is estimated that 123,000 children ages 19 and below have the disorder. Diabetes is recognized as one of the leading causes of death and disability in the United States.
It has contributed to over 193,140 deaths in 1996. It is associated with long term disorder that affects almost every major part in your body. It can cause blindness, heart disease, strokes, kidney failure, amputations, and nerve damage.
Diabetes is a metabolism disorder. A metabolism disorder affects the digestion of food in the body. After eating, most food is broken down by glucose, which is the main fuel for the body. Cells use glucose for energy after it moves into the bloodstream.
Insulin, which is a hormone produced by the pancreas, allows the glucose to pass into our cells. The pancreas’s job is to produce the right amount of insulin so the glucose can pass from the bloodstream into cells. In those with diabetes, the pancreas will provide little or no insulin, or the cells will not react to the insulin produced. This results in a build up of glucose, which the body disposes of through the urine. Even if there was a build up of glucose, the body loses it main source of energy.
There are three types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, and gestational diabetes.
Type 1 was once known as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. It is considered an autoimmune disease, which is where the body’s immune system turns against a part of the body. In diabetes, the immune system attacks the pancreas and destroys the insulin producing beta cells, resulting in production of little or no insulin. A person with Type 1 must administer himself injections on a daily basis to survive. Type 1 accounts for 5 to 10 percent of the diagnosed diabetes in the United States. (NIDDK) It develops most often in children and young adults, but the disorder can appear at any age. The symptoms are noticed over a short period of time. The symptoms include increased thirst and urination, constant hunger, weight loss, blurred vision, and extreme tiredness. If not diagnosed and treated with insulin, a person can lapse into a life-threatening coma.
The most common form of diabetes is Type 2. It is known as noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Ninety to ninety-five percent of the people with diabetes have Type 2. Type 2 usually develops in adults over the age of 40 and is most common in adults over the age of 55. (NIDDK) About 80 percent of the people with Type 2 are overweight. In Type 2, the body produces insulin, but the body can not use the insulin effectively ending up with a build up of glucose in the bloodstream. The symptoms of Type 2 are not as noticeable as in Type 1. The symptoms include feeling tired or ill, frequent urination (especially at night), unusual thirst, weight loss, blurred vision, frequent infections, and slow healing of sores. The third type of diabetes is gestational diabetes. It develops or is discovered during pregnancy. After the development of a child, it will disappear. Women who have gestational diabetes have a greater risk to receive Type 2 later in life.
Diabetes is not contagious. It can not be contracted from someone else, but there are factors that can increase the chances of getting it. People who have families with it (especially Type 2), who are overweight, or who are African American, Hispanic, or Native American. Type 1 occurs equally in men and women, but is more common in whites than nonwhites. Type 1 is rare in Asian, African, and American Indian populations, but in northern European countries, they have high rates of diabetes. The reason for this is not known. Type 2 is more common in older people, especially older women who are overweight and an African American, Hispanic, or Native American. Diabetes rates are 60% in African Americans and 110 to 120% in Mexican American or Puerto Rican. (NIDDK) American Indians have the highest rate of diabetes in the world.
Before insulin was discovered in 1921, those who were diagnosed with Type 1 died with in a year after the appearance of the disease. Insulin injections now are the basic therapy for Type 1. Balance meals, insulin injections, and daily activities while monitoring blood glucose level are necessary. The basic treatment for Type 2 is also diet, exercise and blood monitoring. Some people take pills or insulin to lower their glucose level. Diabetics must take responsibility for their day to day health. Daily care involves not allowing blood sugar level get too high or too low. Hypoglycemia occurs when the blood sugar goes too low, which makes a person nervous, shaky and confused. Personal judgement may also be impaired. Diabetics must eat or drink something with sugar in it to treat low sugar level. Hyperglycemia occurs when the blood sugar level rises too high. This condition can be life threatening. A doctor who monitors their diabetes control and checks for complications should treat people with diabetes. A doctor who specializes in diabetes is called an endocrinologists or diabetologists. The goal of diabetes management is to controls blood sugar level.
Several government agencies sponsor diabetes research. They are NIDDK, the center for disease control and prevention, the Indian Health Service, Health Resources, Service Administration, the Bureau of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Defense. There are also several organizations outside the government support. These include the American Diabetes Association, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation International, and the American Association of Diabetes Educators. In the recent years, diabetes research had led to better ways to manage and treat its complications. There are new forms of purified insulin, better ways for doctors to monitor blood glucose levels, and new ways to test their own blood glucose levels at home. The development of external and implantable insulin pumps that deliver appropriate amounts of insulin, replacing daily injections. Laser treatment is used for diabetic eye disease, thus reducing the risk of blindness. Successful transplantation of kidneys in people whose own kidneys fail because of diabetes. There are better ways of managing diabetic pregnancies, improving the chance of a successful outcome. New drugs to treat Type 2 diabetes and better ways to manage this form of diabetes through weight control. Intensive management of blood glucose reduces and may prevent development of microvascular complications of diabetes. Finally, an antihypertensive drug, called ACE inhibitors prevents or delays kidney failure in people with diabetes.
In the future it may be possible to administer insulin through nasal sprays or in the form of a pill or patch. Devices that can read blood glucose levels without having to prick the finger to get a blood sample are also being developed. Researchers continue to search for the cause or causes of diabetes and ways to prevent and cure the disorder. Scientists are looking for genes that may be involved in Type 2 diabetes and Type 1 diabetes. Some genetic markers for Type 1 diabetes have been identified and it is now possible to screen relatives of people with Type 1 diabetes to see if they are at risk. Transplantation of the pancreas or insulin-producing beta cells offers the best hope of cure for people with Type 1 diabetes. Some pancreas transplants have been successful. However, people who have transplants must take powerful drugs to prevent rejection of the transplanted organ. These drugs are costly and may eventually cause serious health problems. Scientists are working to develop less harmful drugs and better methods of transplanting pancreatic tissue to prevent rejection by the body. Using techniques of bioengineering, researchers are also trying to create artificial islet cells that secrete insulin in response to increased sugar levels in the blood. For Type 2, the focus is on ways to prevent diabetes. Preventive approaches include identifying people at high risk for the disorder and encouraging them to lose weight, exercise more, and follow a healthy diet.
Diabetes is a very common disease among people in the world. Some people have diabetes and do not even realize it. It is important for people to identify the symptoms and start receiving treatment. Diabetes could be life threatening if you are not receiving the proper treatment. It is important for people to understand who is at risk and the necessary treatment for each type. Diabetes is one of the major diseases in our society today.
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