By: Dr. Mohanned Azzam _ Medical West Hospital
Sugar is sweet, and in most cases, it's a treat to get. But when we talk about sugar in the blood stream - too much is not a good thing.
Usually a chronic (lifelong) disease, diabetes usually comes about when the pancreas' production of insulin is deficient. Insulin is what removes sugar from your bloodstream and moves it to muscles, fat, and liver cells - giving you energy. When enough insulin isn't being produced, that sugar never makes it to become fuel for your body.
And that is no good.
Most Common Types of Diabetes:
- Type 1 diabetes is often found in children, teenagers, or younger adults - and their is no known exact cause. Their bodies just produce little to no insulin and require daily injections of insulin.
- Type 2 diabetes is by far much more common, and it occurs mostly in adults. While they do produce insulin, the body either isn't producing enough or the body isn't responding appropriately to the insulin (referred to as resistance).
- Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy where blood sugar levels rise in a woman who doesn't have diabetes.
Risk Factors of Diabetes:
Type 1 is a bit of a mystery, as direct links to lineage are inconclusive, and there is much debate on certain vaccinations - but no relationships have been confirmed.
Type 2 is almost all about lifestyle. Let's put it this way: over the past 3 decades, type 2 diagnosese have doubled.
- If you have a family history of type 2 - then you are at more risk
- Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians, and Native Americans are all at greater risk
- Age - over 45 is where the risk really starts to increase
- Metabolic syndrome (insulin resistance)
- Overweight - especially with a thicker waistline - raises the occurrence of diabetes
- High blood pressure
- An inactive lifestyle (probably leads to being overweight)
- Having had gestational diabetes before raises the risk
Symptoms of Diabetes:
High sugar levels can cause several symptoms to show in different areas/aspects of your body and its behavior.
- Hungry/thirsty a lot
- Urinating often
- Unclear vision, light sensitivity (after many years, you could become blind)
- Weight loss
- Painful sores
- Loss of feeling (damaged nerves)
- Erectile disfunction
Where there is some danger is in that because type 2 develops at such a slow pace over time, many people don't realize they have it because symptoms either don't show or are extremely slow to show. This is why we constantly suggest healthy lifestyles to reduce your risk.
If you experience the above symptoms, it would be extremely wise for you to contact your doctor and schedule a diabetes test. Find out what's going on - could be nothing, diabetes, or something else. But when these things are happening - your body is talking to you, so listen to it!
Diabetes and the Body:
Diabetes is related to coronary heart disease. By contributing to high blood pressure and its link with high cholesterol, diabetes greatly increases the risk of heart attacks and cardiovascular disease. This also rolls over to raising the likelihood of strokes.
As mentioned above, diabetes can have extremely damaging effects on the eyes. If not properly managed, diabetes will cause blood vessels in the retina to swell and leak. Blindness likely follows.
Diabetes also has debilitating effects on the kidneys, nerves (as mentioned above), digestion, and the skin.
Looking back over this post, I've been spewing a fair amount of doom and gloom. Let me say that there are many, MANY people with diabetes who live happy and healthy active lifestyles.
In some cases, if caught early enough, type 2 can be reversed with lifestyle changes. Generally, for both type 1 and type 2, treatment involves medicines, diet, and exercise regiments that will help control blood sugar levels.
- The food you eat is very important. Keep meals well-balanced between starches, fruits and vegetables, fats, and proteins. And make sure you talk to your doctor about portion size. Because of your medications, a measured balance between your medication and the amount of food you eat is helpful to keeping your blood sugar on the level.
- Exercise. Like with most treatments, getting your body moving is more helpful than not. Talk to your doctor about what you need to do.
- Your medications. First - be cautious about your medications. There are many things going on with diabetes, and your doctor knows the medication combination for you. Be in line with your doctor and make them aware of any over-the-counter drugs you may take.
- And speak up! If there's a problem or something doesn't feel right - let your doctor know. Perhaps a simple adjustment in medication can make the difference.
Diabetes is waaaay too common in our world today. Let's do what we can to turn this trend around with more attention paid to what we eat and how we live our lifestyle. While you can definitely live with it, diabetes is a burden with too many potentially serious risks. Keep an active lifestyle and a body weight that doesn't put you at risk.
Dr. Mohanned Azzam