Diabetes on the Rise
Diabetes is a cruel disease. At very least, it can compromise your quality of life and increase your risk for heart attack and stroke. In more severe cases, it can ravage your kidneys, eyes, feet, and nerves.
Sadly, the incidence of diabetes is increasing at alarming rates. The Centers for Disease Control found that new-onset diabetes increased by 90 percent from 1998 to 2008. Today, 30 million Americans—that’s nearly 1 in 10 of us—are diabetic. Another 84 million Americans have prediabetes, which commonly progresses into type 2 diabetes within five years if not treated. If this trend continues, 1 in 3 people will have full-blown diabetes by the year 2050.
What exactly is diabetes?
Diabetes is essentially a disease that results in your blood sugar levels being too high. It is triggered by difficulties with a hormone known as insulin that regulates the amount of glucose in the blood.
Let’s take a closer look at two common types of diabetes:
Type 1: With this type of diabetes, your body does not make enough insulin. It is common in children; in fact, it used to be known as juvenile diabetes. It is not directly tied to dietary or lifestyle factors, but there can be a genetic predisposition toward type 1 diabetes. Patients with this type of diabetes will need injections for life to manage the disease.
Type 2: This is a much more common type of diabetes and usually occurs in adults. Over 90 percent of people with diabetes have the type 2 variety. Although people with type 2 diabetes may produce insulin, their cells don’t use it as efficiently as they should. This causes sugar to build up in the blood. Type 2 diabetes is often linked to obesity, and weight management can often help bring the disease under control.
The indicators of diabetes can be subtle and often go undiagnosed until diabetes has taken a significant toll on the body. Here are some of the most common symptoms.
Type 1 diabetes
- Sudden weight loss
Type 2 diabetes
- Pain or numbness in the legs or feet
- Poor wound healing
- Frequent yeast infections (yeast loves glucose)
Both types of diabetes:
- Hunger and thirst
- Frequent urination
- Blurry vision
- Dry mouth and skin
Regular physicals can help detect the signs of diabetes before the disease has a chance to take a significant toll on your body. If you have a family history of diabetes, make sure that you see your doctor consistently and alert them to your risk factors. Even if you don’t have a family history of diabetes, you should be vigilant about the symptoms that may indicate diabetes. See your doctor immediately if you suspect that you have the disease. They can order the proper tests to diagnose the disease.
Why is Diabetes Increasing?
It is widely agreed that obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are the biggest contributors to the increase in diabetes. Carb-heavy diets, a lack of fruits and vegetables, and an aging population are also believed to be factors.
What’s the Best Way to Manage Diabetes?
Though there’s no cure for diabetes, there are a number of things that can be done to manage its effects. For people with type 1 diabetes, insulin therapy is critical. Since the pancreas of a person with type 1 diabetes does not naturally produce the required amount of insulin, insulin therapy can give the body the requisite amount of the hormone. Insulin therapy is available through injections and also through pump therapy, which provides a steady stream of insulin and avoids the hassles of injections. The pump must still be monitored for mechanical errors, though, and pump therapy can be very expensive. A third alternative, and the newest of these three options, is delivered through an inhaler and absorbed into the lungs.
It used to be that people relied on animal insulin, but synthesized insulin has become much more popular and reliable. It is available in both long-acting and short-acting forms. Drug companies are constantly competing to offer the best performing insulin available. Your physician can help you know which formulation is best for you. The challenge with insulin is that if it is not monitored correctly and you end up with too much of it in your body, you could end up with hypoglycemia. This condition results from low blood sugar levels and can cause weakness, impaired cognition, and—in extreme situations—coma or death.
For those with type 2 diabetes, healthy eating, exercise, and weight loss can go a long way in reducing the effects of diabetes. For some people, these steps can be enough to keep the disease at bay. Others may require medication.
There are a number of different diabetes drugs, and your doctor can prescribe the best one based on your body’s needs. They perform functions such as lowering glucose production, increasing your body’s sensitivity to insulin, and helping your body produce more insulin. Some people with type 2 diabetes may also benefit from insulin therapy.