Things you did not know about Diabetes

November 14th, 2012

For most people diabetes takes a stronghold in their minds as the condition that forbids them from ever having sweets. While that is partly true in most cases, there's a lot more to diabetes than the inability to munch on your favorite foods. In fact, there's a lot about this disease that people don't really know about.

Diabetes is a chronic disease that is typified by having higher than normal amounts of blood sugar levels. This happens for one of two reasons - either the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin to metabolize the sugar or the body fails to use the insulin that is being produced.

Diabetes can be broadly classified into two main categories:

Type 1, which usually develops early on in life (childhood or adolescence) and requires patients to survive on insulin injections as part of their treatment. The symptoms of this condition are frequent urination, continual thirst, extreme fatigue, weight loss, and severe hunger pangs. Owing to the ambiguous nature of these symptoms, type 1 diabetes usually goes unnoticed for a very long time.

Type 2 is more common among adults and is usually caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, obesity, lack of exercise, and poor diet. 90% of all diabetes cases fall under this category and treatment for this condition combines insulin injections, lifestyle changes, weight loss, and oral medication such as generic Actos 45mg.

Whether it is type 1 or type 2, people with diabetes are more susceptible towards long-term complications, such as heart disease, eye problems, strokes, foot problems, and kidney disease. For this reason, it is imperative that those suffering from diabetes keep a vigilant eye on their blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.

According to a report published by the World Health Organization, diabetes is becoming one of the most common afflictions of modern times. In fact, it would not be stretching the truth to say that the world is standing on the brink of a widespread epidemic of diabetes, especially the kind that is caused by physical inactivity and obesity.

In 2005, more than 1 million people died of death. However, this figure is misleading for the simple reason that while people live with diabetes their whole life, their deaths are often recorded as kidney failure or heart attack. As you can imagine, if those fatalities are also taken into account, the actual picture is a lot grimmer. Even more disturbing is the prediction that deaths caused by diabetes are only projected to go up by more than 50% over the next decade or so. In upper-middle income countries, this percentage is as high as 80%.

A yet another new (and worrying) trend has been noticed recently. Type 2 diabetes - a condition that was more prevalent among adults - is being reported among children and adolescents as well. A rare phenomenon by all accounts, it accounts for more than 50% of the newly diagnosed cases in some countries. This indirectly indicates towards an increasingly unhealthy lifestyle and obesity among our younger members of the population.

Even as health bodies and governments across the world are looking for a solution to this problem, there is no denying that the key lies in educating and spreading awareness about this condition. That, and a healthier lifestyle, could free us from the complications associated with type 2 diabetes at least.

Insulin Resistance: The Precursor to Diabetes

November 29th, 2012

For most people, diabetes is a condition that is caused when the body fails to produce enough insulin to metabolize the sugar in the body, causing a spike in blood sugar levels. However, very few know that insulin resistance lies at the root of most Type 2 diabetes cases.

Insulin resistance arises when although the body produces adequate amounts of insulin, it is unable to use it effectively. In order to understand this condition and its connection to pre-diabetes, let's look at how the food is metabolized by the body.

The food we ingest is broken down by the digestive system into glucose which is delivered throughout the body via the bloodstream. The glucose in the blood is better known as blood glucose or blood sugar. In order to take in this blood glucose, the cells need the insulin produced by the pancreas.

In people who are insulin resistant, the body does not respond to the insulin properly, because of which cells are unable to receive the glucose. As a result, the pancreas produces extra insulin to cope with the increased blood sugar levels of the body. However, over time, the pancreas is unable to keep up with the demands and eventually breaks down. As excess glucose starts building up in the bloodstream, the patient develops pre-diabetes.

Pre-diabetes is a condition where the blood sugar levels are on the higher side, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Pre-diabetes, also known as impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or impaired fasting glucose (IFG), affects nearly 79 million people in the U.S.

People with pre-diabetes are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, studies indicate that an overwhelming number of pre-diabetic patients end up with type 2 diabetes within 10 years.

In addition to insulin resistance, there are other conditions that increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes as well as cardiovascular disease. These include high blood pressure, extra weight around the waist, and high levels of triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood.

The exact cause of insulin resistance is unknown. However, scientists have narrowed it down to a specific gene that makes some people more susceptible to this condition. Other factors that can lead to insulin resistance are lack of physical activity, obesity, high stress levels, steroid medications, and history of polycystic ovary syndrome.

There are various ways in which pre-diabetes can be detected. Doctors use a fasting blood glucose panel to check for sugar levels and signs of insulin resistance. There is also a blood test that can gauge how much insulin is being produced by the body. It is known as C-peptide. If the test reveals elevated amounts of C-peptide, it is indicative of the fact that the pancreas is producing a lot of insulin.

If you are losing hope right about now, it's important to remember that insulin resistance and pre-diabetes can be reversed. To begin with, losing weight would help immensely. Less fat translates into fewer hormones that are responsible for causing insulin resistance. In addition, when you take part in physical activities, it increases not just the number of insulin receptors in the body but also makes them work more effectively.