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Important Facts You Should Know About Diabetes

on
November 30, 2020
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What To Know About Diabetes

Reading Time: 5 minutes

A Very Serious and Prevalent Disease

Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease that affects the body’s ability to process glucose, or blood sugar. This leads to an elevation of blood glucose level, which exposes the heart, eyes, nerves, kidneys, and blood vessels to possible damage. Information from the WHO shows that diabetes is one of the leading causes of lower limb amputation, heart attacks, kidney failure, and stroke.

It is also the seventh leading cause of death in the world as, in 2016 alone, it was responsible for about 1.6 million deaths. The mortality associated with diabetes increased to about 4.2 million in 2019, thus indicating the urgent need to curb this menace. In 2019, approximately 463 million adults (20-79 years of age) were diagnosed with diabetes, and this number is expected to increase to 700 million or so by 2045.

In 2019, approximately 463 million adults (20-79 years of age) were diagnosed with diabetes, and this number is expected to increase to 700 million or so by 2045.

International Diabetes Foundation (2020)

The presence of diabetes is associated with the production or utilization of insulin, which is a hormone secreted by the pancreas (a gland located behind the stomach) and is responsible for the transportation of sugar (carbohydrates) from the bloodstream into the cells. This blood sugar is converted into energy, which is either used immediately or stored for the future. Depending on the response of the body to the presence of insulin, diabetes is divided into two main types: type I and type II.

Type I

Type I diabetes is also known as insulin-dependent or juvenile diabetes. It is a chronic condition whereby the pancreas produces little to no insulin, thus predisposing the body to increased blood sugar levels. The secretion of insulin is controlled by the interaction of nutrients, hormones, and the autonomic nervous system; the presence of glucose and other forms of sugar metabolized by the pancreas tends to stimulate its release. 

Type I diabetes arises when the immune system attacks and destroys the pancreas’ insulin-producing cells. There are several scientific reports suggesting that certain genes and environmental factors, like exposure to viruses, may trigger this reaction. It is, however, pertinent to note that scientists are still working to pinpoint the disease’s exact cause. Though type I diabetes is more common in children and adolescents, it can also develop in adults. Type I diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, and it affects about 1.25 million Americans, a number is expected to hit a staggering 5 million by 2050.

Type I diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, and it affects about 1.25 million Americans, a number is expected to hit a staggering 5 million by 2050.

CDC (2017)

Signs and Symptoms of Type I Diabetes Mellitus (DM)

The signs and symptoms of type I diabetes tend to appear suddenly and may include but are not limited to the following:

·         unintended weight loss;

·         irritability and other mood changes;

·         increased thirst;

·         frequent urination;

·         fatigue and weakness;

·         extreme hunger;

·         blurred vision;

·         and bedwetting in children with no previous history of it.

The common treatment measures for the disease include insulin administration, frequent monitoring of blood sugar levels, healthy diet, and regular exercise.

Type II

Type II diabetes arises when your body cannot metabolize glucose or blood sugar, a crucial source of energy. In that situation, you will either resist the effects of insulin or you will not produce enough insulin to maintain normal glucose levels.

Until recently, type II diabetes was often referred to as adult-onset diabetes. This has since changed, as many young people are now being diagnosed with the condition, probably due to a rise in childhood obesity. The proportion of people living with type II diabetes is increasing in most regions of the world, and about 374 million additional people are at the risk.

Signs and Symptoms of Type II Diabetes

Contrary to what we observe in type I diabetes, the symptoms of type II diabetes tend to develop slowly –it is possible to be afflicted with the disease for up to two years without displaying any alarming signs! Some of these include the following:

·         areas of darkened skin, usually in the armpits and neck;

·         blurred vision;

·         fatigue;

·         frequent infections;

·         frequent urination;

·         increased hunger;

·         increased thirst;

·         slow-healing sores;

·         unintended weight loss.

There is no cure for type II diabetes, so lifestyle changes like weight loss, eating well, and engaging in physical activities are recommended. If a promising result is not obtained from those alterations, the patient may require insulin therapy.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a less harmful form of diabetes, usually linked with pregnancy, when it is first diagnosed. It affects the way the cells utilize glucose and can cause high blood sugar, which threatens the baby’s health.

Pregnant women control gestational diabetes by taking medication, exercising, and consuming healthy foods. While the blood sugar level returns to normal after delivery, it is important to note that women who experience gestational diabetes are at higher risk for subsequently developing type II diabetes. Accordingly, physicians usually recommend periodic screening.

The presence of gestational diabetes is not linked to any special symptoms. However, those afflicted may experience more frequent urination or increased thirst.

Conclusion

Monitoring diabetic patients involve the frequent taking of blood samples in order to keep an active record of blood sugar in the body. The common treatment plans revolve around dieting and physical activity, which increases sugar burnout. Some physicians may also recommend the use of natural remedies that improve weight loss and dieting.

Recently, there has been increased interest in how artificial intelligence might assist patients in keeping records, tracking progress, and maintaining higher levels of health.

Thoughts? Questions? We would love to hear them so please comment below.

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SOHAIL MERCHANT
Youngstown, Ohio

Medical Doctor (M.D.); Research Fellow at Lumen Foundation Artificial Intelligence Division

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