People around the world took to social media to commemorate World Diabetes Awareness Day, a day when the plight of patients suffering from the condition are highlighted. What really is Diabetes? The body requires oxygen and energy to survive. The oxygen, the universe has been so gracious to provide freely for many people while energy has to be acquired and consumed usually through work.
Sometimes, the metabolic pathways responsible for the utilization or storage of glucose in blood, sugar used for energy, is compromised. This may lead into the accumulation of sugar in Blood-Hyperglycemia. Insulin is the hormone that moves sugar from blood into the cells, for storage or utilization to produce energy. Diabetic patients either have low levels of insulin leading to accumulation and subsequent hyperglycemia or may have enough insulin, which the body is unable to effectively make use of. Blood sugar levels that are high can damage many organs including the nerves eyes and kidneys leading to what is referred to as diabetes complications.
Types of Diabetes
There are different types of diabetes. Type I occurs as an auto-immune response where the body attacks cells in the pancreas that are responsible for the synthesis of insulin. The cause of type I diabetes auto-immune response is unknown but it accounts for 10% of all incidences. Type II diabetes is a result of desensitization of insulin receptors. The body is, therefore, resistant to insulin and its activity is reduced.
General symptoms of diabetes include increased hunger, thirst and weight loss. There also are patients that experience blurry vision, frequent urination with a fruity smell, exhaustion, and sores that do not heal.
Causes of Diabetes
The underlying cause of type I diabetes is largely idiopathic, unknown. Immune response cells mistakenly attack insulin-producing cells and genetics are thought to play a role. Type II is a product of genetic predisposition and lifestyle factors. Being obese, for example, predisposes one to type II diabetes.
One is more likely to increase the risk of being diabetic when overweight, age above 45 years, have a parent or sibling with diabetes besides being physically inactive. Other factors include incidences of high blood pressure while being of African, Hispanic, Latino or Indian origin.
Complications of Diabetes
High blood sugar content damages body organs and tissues. Complications arise as a result of having high sugar levels over long periods of time. Complications of diabetes include heart diseases, neuropathy, nephropathy, retinopathy and blindness, loss of hearing, infections that don’t heal, depression and dementia.
Type I diabetes responds to insulin and is, therefore, the drug of choice. Type II diabetes is managed using non-pharmacological means and pharmacological alternatives. A healthy diet and regular exercise among other appropriate lifestyle change greatly improve conditions of diabetics. In the event that lifestyle changes are insufficient, hypoglycemic agents are initiated.
Healthy eating habits and appropriate lifestyle changes may be enough to fully combat diabetes. However, the options must be considered by trained medical practitioners.