Sunday, May 31, 2009

Introduction to diabetes

PostHeaderIcon Information about Diabetes : What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects over 150 million people in the world today.

The percentage of people suffering from diabetes is increasing rapidly, to the point where many medical authorities are referring to it as an epidemic.

So what is diabetes?

Diabetes prevents your body from turning your food into energy. Instead glucose stays in your bloodstream, and left untreated can result in a range of complications.

If you have recently been diagnosed as diabetic, don’t worry. With proper treatment and care, you will lead a normal and happy life. You may need to make a few changes in your lifestyle - but then, if you are like me, you probably had plans to do that anyway and just never got round to it.

Now is the time to kick yourself into action. You cannot leave this up to your doctor alone - it needs you to take responsibility for your own treatment, and that starts with understanding what you are dealing with.

There are three types of Diabetes:



What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 Diabetes, (sometimes called Juvenile Diabetes) is usually found in young children and teenagers, but can also occur later in life.

In Type 1 Diabetes, your body is not producing insulin, a hormone needed to convert blood sugar into energy. Normally this hormone is produced by cells in your pancreas, but for some reason this is not happening as it should.

As the glucose in your blood can’t be converted into energy and absorbed by your cells, it builds up causing high blood sugar.

Left untreated, high blood sugar can cause serious long-term health problems.

The normal treatment for people with type 1 diabetes is daily injections of insulin which keeps the blood sugar level within normal ranges.

Finding out you have diabetes can be upsetting, but it should not prevent you from living a long and happy life.

If you think this condition will prevent you leading an active life, consider Sir Steve Redgrave, one of the World’s greatest Olympic athletes.

Sir Steve battled type 1 diabetes to win his record-breaking fifth Olympic Gold medal at the Sydney games in the coxless fours rowing event!


PostHeaderIcon What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes (sometimes called mature onset diabetes) is the most common form of diabetes.

As with Type 1 Diabetes, the problem is related to insulin, a hormone needed to convert sugar into energy.

With Type 2 diabetes your body might be producing too little insulin, or it might not be reacting to the insulin correctly. Either way, the end result is that glucose builds up in the bloodstream instead of going into the cells. Left untreated, high blood sugar can cause serious long-term health problems.

Type 2 diabetes usually appears later in life, often between the ages of 35-45 years. As it often develops slowly, many people may not recognise the symptoms, and may have diabetes without knowing it.

If you have recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you are one of the lucky ones. Many people have diabetes without knowing it, and are at much greater risk of long term medical complications.

Finding out you have diabetes can be upsetting, but it should not prevent you from living a long and happy life. You may need to make a few changes in your lifestyle, but these changes are also good advice for non-diabetics, so probably a good idea anyway.


PostHeaderIcon What is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes, that is only suffered by pregnant women.

In Gestational diabetes, a woman’s blood sugar is higher than normal because of the other hormones pridcued during preganancy interfere with the insulin that is produced naturally.

Gestational diabetes usually becomes apparent during the 24th to 28th weeks of pregnancy, and, in most cases, disappears of its own accord once the baby is born.

Women with gestational diabetes usually do NOT have an increased risk of having a baby with birth defects.

Generally, sufferers of gestational diabetes have normal blood sugar levels during the critical first stages of the preganancy.
Whilst there can be complications caused by gestational diabetes, these can usually be managed by careful attention to nutrition and blood sugar levels.

Approximately 3 to 5 percent of all pregnant women in the developed world suffer from gestational diabetes.


PostHeaderIcon Symptoms of Diabetes - how to tell if you are diabetic

What are the main Symptoms of Diabetes?

diabetes symptoms warningThe most consistent symptom of diabetes mellitus (Type I and II) is elevated blood sugar levels. In Type I (insulin dependent / early onset) diabetes, this is caused by the body not producing enough insulin to properly regulate blood sugar. In Type II (non insulin dependent/adult onset) diabetes, it is caused by the body developing resistance to insulin, so it cannot properly use what it produces.

However, high blood sugar is not something you can see in the mirror at home, so it is useful to know the side-effects of high blood sugar, which are commonly recognized as the noticeable symptoms of diabetes.

If you find yourself experiencing many of these diabetes symptoms on a consistent, long term basis, you should visit a doctor to be tested for diabetes. Ignoring (or not recognizing) the symptoms of diabetes can lead to long-term serious health risks and complications from untreated diabetes. Some of the common ‘early warning’ signs of diabetes are:

  • The first symptom of diabetes is often excessive thirst (unrelated to exercise, hot weather, or short-term illness)
  • Excessive hunger (you know you’ve eaten “enough” but are still hungry all the time)
  • Frequent urination (often noticed because you must wake up repeatedly during the night)
  • Tiredness and fatigue (possibly severe enough to make you fall asleep unexpectedly after meals), one of the most common symptoms of diabetes.
  • Rapid and/or sudden weight loss (any dramatic change in weight is a sign to visit a doctor)

While many of the signs and symptoms of diabetes can also be related to other causes, testing for diabetes is very easy, and the constant/regular presence of one or more of these symptoms over an extended period of time should be cause for a visit to the doctor.

If diabetes is suspected, tested for, and diagnosed when those symptoms first start appearing, other more serious symptoms of advanced diabetes can often be prevented or have their onset significantly delayed through diet, exercise and proper blood sugar management.

However, often the ‘minor’ symptoms of diabetes go unrecognized, and physical and neurological problems may arise, resulting in some
of the following symptoms:

  • Blurred vision (diabetes can lead to macular degeneration and eventual blindness)
  • Numbness and/or tingling in the hands and feet (peripheral neuropathy, a symptom of diabetes, causes nerve damage in the extremities)
  • Slow healing of minor scratches and wounds (diabetes often leads to impaired immune system function)
  • Recurrent or hard-to-treat yeast infections in women (another sign of impaired immune function)
  • Dry or itchy skin (peripheral neuropathy also affects circulation and proper sweat gland function)

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms on a regular basis, or you recognize these symptoms in a child or relative, they may be signs of untreated diabetes. A doctor’s appointment should be made as soon as possible, so the individual experiencing the symptoms can — if diabetes is diagnosed — take the steps needed to prevent more serious health problems.

Follow this link for more information on Symptoms of Diabetes

http://www.informationaboutdiabetes.com/

http://yourtotalhealth.ivillage.com/diabetes-endocrine

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