Additional Diabetes Information:
Glucose – What fuels your body poisons your blood
We wouldn't perhaps twitch our eyebrows in complete disbelief if we were told – the sun is the source of all the sweetness and strength in our life, literally speaking. Apart from being a good metaphor, a closer scrutiny of the statement will expose the material reasons behind such a revelation. Plants convert carbon dioxide into organic compounds, especially sugar, using the energy of the sunlight. As a result, glucose – a geeky name for sugar – is stored in fruits, grains and vegetables; which is consumed by us in the form of carbohydrate containing diet. After digestion of the glucose containing food substance, it (glucose) enters the blood stream. It is then stored in liver, muscles and fat, for distribution in tissues as a source of energy for the body.
Insulin, a hormone produced by an organ called the pancreas, plays the role of moving glucose from the bloodstream into muscle, fat, and liver cells. A condition where the body stops producing enough insulin or the cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced is described as diabetes. As a result of high sugar content in blood, symptoms that develop include frequent urination, increased thirst and increased hunger. Blurred vision is also a common complaint that leads to diabetes diagnosis.
Diabetes mellitus, usually referred to as diabetes, describes a group of metabolic diseases concerning insulin related disorders. There are three main types of diabetes:
- Type I diabetes is diagnosed mostly in children, adolescents or young adults. It develops when the body produces little or no insulin.
- Type II diabetes, diagnosed mostly in adulthood, results from resistance to insulin. It is a condition where cells fail to use insulin properly. However, recently adolescents and young adults are being diagnosed with it because of high obesity rates.
- Gestational diabetes is diagnosed in women during pregnancy who do not have diabetes.
Diabetes – A few alarming facts
At present, more than 34.6 crore people all over the world have diabetes. The emerging global epidemic can be traced back to rapid increases in overweight, obesity and physical inactivity. In 2004, 34 lakh people died from consequences of high blood sugar. World Health Organisation (WHO) predicts that diabetes will become the seventh leading cause of death in the world by the year 2030. Type II diabetes, much more common than Type I, accounts for around 90% of all diabetes worldwide. Children diagnosed with Type II diabetes – previously rare – have increased worldwide. In some countries, it accounts for almost half of newly diagnosed cases in children and adolescents. Statistics have confirmed that diabetes increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Cardiovascular disease (primarily heart disease and stroke) causes 50% to 80% deaths of people diagnosed with diabetes. Diabetes is also the leading cause of limb amputation, blindness and kidney failure. 2% people become completely blind and 10% have severe visual impairments after 15 years of diabetes, while 10-20% people die of kidney failure. It has also been estimated that 80% of diabetes deaths occur in underdeveloped and developing nations. In developed countries people with diabetes are above the age of retirement, while in developing countries, those most affected are aged between 35 and 64.
Prevention, diagnosis and treatment
Diabetes is caused as a result of genetic predispositions and environmental influences. While type I diabetes occurs mostly because of genetic factors coupled with certain infections, type II diabetes develops primarily due to lifestyle factors and genetics. However, although the incidence of type II diabetes is much higher than any other type, it is preventable. Simple lifestyle measures like maintaining a healthy body weight, a regular moderate intensity exercising for 30 minutes, and a healthy diet consisting of fruits and vegetables along with reduced sugar and saturated fats intake have been shown to be effective in preventing or delaying the onset of type II diabetes. Also, regular preventive health check-up is a viable solution for early diagnosis and treatment. A preventive health check-up to detect the presence of diabetes involves relatively inexpensive blood tests, essential in minimizing the damage caused by the disease.