What is diabetes?

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diabetes-diagnosis

Diabetes is a chronic, often debilitating and sometimes fatal disease, in which the body either cannot produce insulin or cannot properly use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that controls the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Diabetes leads to high blood sugar levels, which can damage organs, blood vessels and nerves. The body needs insulin to use sugar as an energy source. In general, people with diabetes either have a total lack of insulin (type 1 diabetes) or they have too little insulin or cannot use insulin effectively (type 2 diabetes).
Type 1 diabetes (formerly called juvenile-onset or insulin-dependent diabetes), accounts for 5 to 10 out of 100 people who have diabetes. In type 1 diabetes , the body’s immune system destroys the cells that release insulin, eventually eliminating insulin production from the body. Without insulin, cells cannot absorb sugar (glucose), which they need to produce energy.
Type 2 diabetes (formerly called adult-onset or non-insulin-dependent diabetes) can develop at any age. It most commonly becomes apparent during adulthood. But type 2 diabetes in children is rising. Type 2 diabetes accounts for the vast majority of people who have diabetes-90 to 95 out of 100 people. In type 2 diabetes, the body isn’t able to use insulin the right way. This is called insulin resistance . As type 2 diabetes gets worse, the pancreas may make less and less insulin. This is called insulin deficiency.

What is the pancreas and what does it do?

The pancreas is an organ that sits behind the stomach and releases hormones into the digestive system. In the healthy body, when blood sugar levels get too high, special cells in the pancreas (called beta cells) release insulin. Insulin is a hormone and it causes cells to take in sugar to use as energy or to store as fat. This causes blood sugar levels to go back down.

Differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes

What is type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and kills the beta cells of the pancreas. No, or very little, insulin is released into the body. As a result, sugar builds up in the blood instead of being used as energy. About five to 10 per cent of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes generally develops in childhood or adolescence, but can develop in adulthood.

Type 1 diabetes is always treated with insulin. Meal planning also helps with keeping blood sugar at the right levels.

Type 1 diabetes also includes latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA), the term used to describe the small number of people with apparent type 2 diabetes who appear to have immune-mediated loss of pancreatic beta cells.

Symptoms usually start in childhood or young adulthood. People often seek medical help, because they are seriously ill from sudden symptoms of high blood sugar .Episodes of low blood sugar level (hypoglycemia) are common.It cannot be prevented.

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body can’t properly use the insulin that is released (called insulin insensitivity) or does not make enough insulin. As a result, sugar builds up in the blood instead of being used as energy. About 90 per cent of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes more often develops in adults, but children can be affected.
The person may not have symptoms before diagnosis. Usually the disease is discovered in adulthood, but an increasing number of children are being diagnosed with the disease.
There are no episodes of low blood sugar level, unless the person is taking insulin or certain diabetes medicines.
It can be prevented or delayed with a healthy lifestyle, including maintaining a healthy weight , eating sensibly, and
exercising regularly.

Depending on the severity of type 2 diabetes, it may be managed through physical activity and meal planning, or may also require medications and/or insulin to control blood sugar more effectively.

            What is gestational diabetes?

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gestational-diabetes

A third type of diabetes, gestational diabetes, is a temporary condition that occurs during pregnancy. It affects approximately two to four per cent of all pregnancies (in the non-Aboriginal population) and involves an increased risk of developing diabetes for both mother and child.

How are they alike?

Both types of diabetes greatly increase a person’s risk for a range of serious complications. Although monitoring and managing the disease can prevent complications, diabetes remains the leading cause of blindness and kidney failure. It also continues to be a critical risk factor for heart disease , stroke , and foot or leg amputations.

What are the complications of diabetes?

Having high blood sugar can cause diabetes-related complications, like chronic kidney disease, foot problems, non-traumatic lower limb (leg, foot, toe, etc.) amputation, eye disease (retinopathy) that can lead to blindness, heart attack, stroke, anxiety, nerve damage, and erectile dysfunction (men).

Diabetes-related complications can be very serious and even life-threatening. Properly managing blood sugar levels reduces the risk of developing these complications. 

Treatments & Medications

People with diabetes can expect to live active, independent and vital lives if they make a lifelong commitment to careful diabetes management.

Key elements in diabetes management

Education: 
Diabetes education is an important first step. All people with diabetes need to be informed about their condition.

Physical activity: 
Regular physical activity helps your body lower blood glucose levels, promotes weight loss, reduces stress and enhances overall fitness.

Nutrition:
 What, when and how much you eat all play an important role in regulating blood glucose levels.

Weight management: 
Maintaining a healthy weight is especially important in the management of type 2 diabetes.

Medication: 
Type 1 diabetes is always treated with insulin. Type 2 diabetes is managed through physical activity and meal planning and may require medications and/or insulin to assist your body in controlling blood glucose more effectively.

Lifestyle management: 
Learning to reduce stress levels in day-to-day life can help people with diabetes better manage their disease.

Blood pressure: 
High blood pressure can lead to eye disease, heart disease, stroke and kidney disease, so people with diabetes should try to maintain a blood pressure level at or below 130/80. To do this, you may need to change your eating and physical activity habits and/or take medication.

Benefits of Physical Activity

Almost everyone, whether or not they have diabetes, benefits from regular exercise.

Well-known health benefits include weight loss, stronger bones, improved blood pressure control, lower rates of heart disease and cancer as well as increased energy levels.

What are the short-term benefits of increasing my physical activity?

Lowers your blood glucose within one hour.Gives you more energy and strength during the day.Decreases stress, anxiety, and fatigue.Improves relaxation and sleep.Improves confidence and well-being.Lets you have fun and involve family and friends.

What are the long-term benefits if I keep at it?

Improved blood glucose (sugar) control.Helps to maintain or lose weight.Lowered blood pressure.Stronger bones and muscles.Lower risk of diabetes complications such as eye, heart, and kidney disease.Improved quality of life.

Regardless of your age, making the decision to become more physically active is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and the people who love you. Take that first step today!

– See more at: http://www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/healthy-living-resources/exercise/benefits-of-physical-activity#sthash.aIv2hMdR.dpuf

– See more at: http://www.diabetes.ca/about-diabetes/treatments-medications#sthash.r5cYn0EC.dpuf

Photo credit : Dreamstime

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