This website contains information about diabetes - how to manage it and how to cope with it. Learn about diet and diabetes, diabetes monitoring and monitors...and more.
Diabetes - An Introduction and Overview
Diabetes is a generally manageable, yet potentially deadly, disease in which an individual, the diabetic, has high levels of glucose in the blood.
By Donovan Baldwin
Prior to the early twentieth century, diabetes was pretty much a death sentence for a great many who contracted it. Even into the middle of the 20th century, without proper diagnosis and treatment, it could still be deadly. In fact, I lost one of my uncles to it.
As dangerous as it might be, however, diabetes is not as deadly as it once was.
Diabetes has to do with high blood sugar (glucose), and, this excess glucose can have a number of ill effects, ranging from such minor issues as poor healing of cuts, to severe kidney damage, and, in worst cases, even coma and death. With modern advances in blood glucose monitors and insulin delivery methods, it's treatment is often little more than a slightly unpleasant daily task.
Even though the underlying causes of diabetes are still not fully understood, diabetes results from either too little insulin being produced or ineffective use of it by the body. There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. In Type 1 diabetes, the islet cells of the pancreas fail to produce an amount of insulin adequate to allow blood glucose to enter the body's cells where it is used for energy. In Type 2, the cells may resist insulin's action (insulin resistance), once again leaving too much glucose in the blood. Among other problems with this, most of this excess glucose will be stored as fat.
Although the causes of diabetes are not completely known, experts are still able to agree that the causes of the different types of diabetes are generally a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental or lifestyle factors. In each individual case, one or the other may dominate to varying degrees.
Gestational diabetes, for example, affects about 3% of pregnant women usually from around 24-28 weeks into term, but disappears after birth. Type 1 diabetes, on the other hand, affects mostly juveniles and is largely genetic.
The symptoms of diabetes, no matter its type, are usually roughly the same:
Obviously, these symptoms are common to many illnesses and conditions and can have a number of causes. Anyone suspecting he or she has diabetes should have themselves tested by a physician. Only the appropriate tests can reveal without doubt whether you have diabetes or not.
- Excessive and frequent urination
- Unquenchable thirst
- Dizziness or stomach pains in some cases
It is not a difficult process as these tests are simple and relatively painless, only requiring a small blood sample. Your blood glucose level will be measured, with a normal reading running around 99 mg/dL. Dibetic individuals will have a level of 126 mg/dL or above. Be aware, however, that it may require more than one test to confirm the disease.
Once diabetes has been confirmed, regular blood glucose monitoring becomes imperative. Fortunately, there are today many convenient ways available for an individual to do this. Blood sugar testing devices the size of a cell phone are common. To test the blood glucose level with one of these blood sugar monitors, a small blood sample is smeared on a strip which is then fed into the instrument, which delivers a reading within seconds. Some recent devices can even measure your glucose level through the skin using an infrared beam.
Today, diabetes treatments are easier for most diabetics than even just a few years ago.
In some cases a carefully designed and planned diet, combined with an appropriate exercise program may be all that is necessary to keep the proper glucose-insulin balance. In the usual case, insulin delivery is called for in some form or another. Even that too is much easier today than in generations past. There are even small insulin-containing pens which can deliver the exact dose of insulin painlessly. Newer oral inhalers, which have met with success, are now on the market as well.
There is no doubt that no one ever wants to have to deal with diabetes. However, managing the disease is now easier than ever before in history. Still, the potential long term complications of untreated diabetes remain what they always were. However, by dealing with diabetes by means of simple medical techniques, and by implementing appropriate nutrition, adequate and proper exercise, and, in some cases, using a supplements, most diabetics can enjoy an active fulfilling life just as well as anyone else.
Diabetes - An Introduction and Overview
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Page Updated 5:08 PM Friday 9/25/2015