What Is Diabetes?
October 26th 2012 07:18
Learn all about insulin, blood sugar, and managing type 1 or type 2 diabetes
Have you been diagnosed with diabetes? Although millions of people have diabetes, many are not sure what the disease is. Check out these videos to find out how diabetes affects your body, hear true stories from people with diabetes, and learn strategies for balancing your blood sugar.
Diabetes affects people of all ages and from all walks of life. There are several types, but type 2 diabetes is by far the most common. Of the nearly 26 million people who have diabetes in America, 90% to 95% have type 2, about 5% have type 1, and less than 5% have some other form of diabetes. Here's a quick look at the different types of diabetes.
A person with prediabetes has abnormally high blood sugar levels, but not high enough to warrant a diagnosis of diabetes. Prediabetes is a fairly new term, and it's sometimes still called impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose.
A prediabetes diagnosis is both good and bad news. It's bad news because prediabetes means you're on the road to full-blown type 2 diabetes and increases your risk for heart disease and other conditions related to chronically high blood sugar. It's good news because at this early stage you can still reverse the condition and reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. To do that, you have to know you have prediabetes. An estimated 57 million Americans have prediabetes, but many don't know it. Ask your doctor if you're at risk.
Type 1 Diabetes
A person with type 1 diabetes has an immune system that attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. With little or no insulin, glucose builds up in the blood because it can't get inside the cells that need it. People with type 1 diabetes need daily insulin injections or doses of insulin from an insulin pump to stay alive. Type 1 diabetes is often called juvenile-onset diabetes (because it's most often diagnosed in children and young adults) or insulin-dependent diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes
A person with type 2 diabetes either produces too little insulin to regulate blood sugar, or his or her body's cells become resistant to insulin and can't use it properly. Sometimes, both problems occur. Type 2 diabetes often starts with insulin resistance. The resulting increase in blood sugar confuses the pancreas into thinking more insulin is needed. Eventually, the pancreas' beta cells wear out from constant overproduction of insulin and can no longer make enough of it.
Fortunately, you can manage type 2 diabetes with a healthy diet, regular exercise, and weight control. Your doctor may prescribe medication as well.
In some people, diabetes develops for the first time during pregnancy. This is called gestational diabetes and occurs in about 7% of pregnant women. Most often, it's a temporary condition that goes away after pregnancy, but in some women it can continue even after childbirth. Either way, gestational diabetes increases a woman's risk of developing type 2 diabetes up to 60% in the future.
Other Types of Diabetes
Less common types of diabetes are caused by genetic conditions, medications, pancreatic disorders, infections, and other diseases.
Are You At Risk for Type 2 Diabetes?
Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes, a metabolic disorder that results in too much glucose (sugar) in your blood. While you can't change some of the 12 common risk factors of diabetes (e.g., your family history, age, and ethnicity), you can control most other diabetes risk factors. Here's how.
Diabetes Risk Factor #2: You Have Belly Fat
Skyrocketing rates of diabetes are directly linked to America's burgeoning waistline. More than 85% of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight, according to the National Institutes of Health. It's not clear why being overweight boosts diabetes risk, but experts suspect extra pounds -- especially belly fat -- make body cells resist the hormone insulin, which carries glucose in the blood to cells to use as energy. When you develop insulin resistance, cells can't take up the glucose, resulting in high blood sugar levels
Diabetes Risk Factor #3: You Haven't Had a Blood Glucose Test
When it comes to understanding your diabetes risk, knowledge is power, which is why regular diabetes screenings are so important. A simple blood test can tell you if your blood glucose is rising or whether you have prediabetes, a state in which blood sugar levels are slightly elevated but not high enough to qualify for diabetes. Experts estimate that prediabetes affects 79 million people in the U.S. "When people learn they have prediabetes, I tell them they're extremely lucky," says Betul Hatipoglu, MD, an endocrinologist at Cleveland Clinic. "It's an opportunity for them to make changes so they can reverse the disease." Get a blood glucose test every one to three years, depending on whether you have other risk factors.
Diabetes Risk Factor #4: You Don't Get Enough Sleep
Skimping on sleep is exhausting and makes you grumpy. Even worse, it causes your body to secrete extra stress hormones that lead to insulin resistance and weight gain, Dr. Hatipoglu says. "People who don't sleep enough at night are also hungrier because they have more ghrelin, a hormone that make you eat more," she says. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. If your partner says you snore, and you don't wake up refreshed, see your doctor. You may have sleep apnea, a breathing disorder during sleep that can boost your diabetes risk.
Diabetes Risk Factor #5: You Eat a Bad Diet
For many people, a bad diet boosts their diabetes odds. Most Americans eat few fruits and vegetables, which puts them at risk for many health problems, including diabetes. In fact, one survey found that fewer than half of Americans eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables most days of the week. Of particular benefit are leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, and collard greens. One analysis found that eating slightly more than one serving of leafy greens a day (about 1 cup raw greens) can lower diabetes risk by 14%.
Diabetes Risk Factor #6: You Live with Stress
Managing a busy to-do list and crazy work hours isn't just stressful. It also increases diabetes risk. Chronic stress causes your body to release extra stress hormones, such as cortisol. In turn, that causes insulin resistance, which makes blood sugar levels climb. Stress also contributes to other diabetes risk factors, including depression, a bad diet, and poor sleep, Hatipoglu says. Manage stress with relaxation techniques, such as yoga and meditation. Spend time with friends or enjoy a nightly sitcom for some laughter.
Diabetes Risk Factor #7: You Guzzle Sugar-Sweetened Drinks
Many people enjoy an occasional soda with their pizza, but drinking too many sugar-sweetened beverages -- including juices, energy drinks, sweetened ice tea, and coffee drinks -- packs on pounds that can lead to obesity and diabetes. Experts suspect sugar-sweetened drinks alter the body's ability to use insulin efficiently, causing blood sugar levels to rise. A better choice? Sip water instead.
Diabetes Risk Factor #8: You Have Hypertension
Nearly one in three Americans has high blood pressure, or hypertension, a state in which your blood pressure levels are above 140/90. High blood pressure means your heart is working harder than it should to pump blood throughout your body. Hypertension doesn't cause diabetes, Hatipoglu says, but high blood pressure is often a sign of diabetes. The good news is many of the same steps that can help you prevent diabetes (e.g., exercising and eating right) can also stave off or lower high blood pressure.
Diabetes Risk Factor #9: You're Depressed
Depression can do more than make you sad, irritable, or lose interest in activities you once enjoyed. It can also increase your diabetes risk by 60%. How? People who are depressed often don't exercise and may eat poorly, both of which boost your odds of developing diabetes. Research also links depression with hormonal changes that can raise your risk for obesity and diabetes. If you suspect you have depression, talk to your doctor about treatment, which may include medication, therapy, or a combination of both.
Diabetes Risk Factor #10: You're Getting Older
As if having more wrinkles and gray hairs isn't enough, middle age also means a higher diabetes risk. Diabetes is more common after the age of 45, when your metabolism slows, you start to lose muscle mass, and your weight creeps up. That's why it's even more important to keep up healthy habits and get screened for diabetes every three years after the age of 45.
Diabetes Risk Factor #11: Your Family Has a History of Diabetes
Diabetes loves families! It's true that genetics play a role in your diabetes risk. If you have a parent or sibling with diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes, your odds are significantly higher. For example, if one twin has type 2 diabetes, the other has a 3 in 4 chance of developing it, too. However, the American Diabetes Association notes that heredity isn't destiny. While you may be genetically predisposed to diabetes, healthy habits, such as watching your weight and exercising, can delay or even prevent diabetes.
Diabetes Risk Factor #12: Your Race or Ethnicity
People of some races or ethnic groups have a higher diabetes risk than the general population. Are you African American, Asian American, Hispanic, American Indian, or Pacific Islander? Depending on your background, your risk of type 2 diabetes can be up to 77% higher than it is for your Caucasian friends. You can't change your race or ethnicity, but you can>/em> control other diabetes risk factors, such as weight, diet, stress, and sleep. Ask your doctor how often you should be tested for diabetes.
From: real age available free online
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