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HomeMedical Information Quality MedicineAre You At Risk? Diabetes

Are You At Risk? Diabetes


Diabetes is a serious, chronic disease that is now considered as an epidemic. Prevalence in people over 18 years of age increased 80% between 1980 and 2014. There are currently over 30.3 million diabetes sufferers in the US. According to a national survey taken in China (2013) over 119 million people are already suffering from diabetes. These numbers are constantly on the rise. This article explains the types of diabetes, what causes it and how best to prevent it.

Diabetes is a serious, chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin (a hormone that regulates blood glucose), or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.

Diabetes is a problem with your body that causes blood sugar levels to rise higher than normal. The types of diabetes are Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational Diabetes, which happens when pregnant. Type 2 diabetes drives most of the increase in number of diabetes cases.

In Type 1 diabetes (previously known as insulin-dependent, juvenile or childhood-onset), your body treats the cells that make insulin as invaders, and destroys them. This can happen over a few weeks, months or years. When enough of the cells are gone, your pancreas makes little or no insulin and blood glucose becomes dangerously high. People with Type 1 diabetes take daily insulin by injection with a syringe, an insulin pen, or an insulin pump. The cause of Type 1 diabetes is not known and it is not preventable with current knowledge.

In Type 2 diabetes, your body does not use insulin properly. At first, the pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it, but eventually, it will not be able to keep up and make enough to keep you blood glucose levels normal. Type 2 is treated with diet changes, exercise, oral medications and/or insulin.

Scientists do not know the exact cause of Type 2 diabetes, however the development of Type 2 diabetes has been associated with several risk factors, such as:

  • a personal history of hyperglycemia, prediabetes, or gestational diabetes
  • being overweight
  • the lack of enough physical activity  
  • family history
  • genetic predisposition
  • age
  • high blood pressure
  • abnormal cholesterol

The two goals of diabetes treatment are to make sure you feel generally well and to prevent or delay long-term health problems. The best way to reach those goals is by taking any medications your doctor prescribes, planning appropriate meals like choosing what, how much, and when to eat and being physically active. Speak with your doctor or a diabetes health educator for instructions regarding what constitutes the right diet and which physical activity is best for you. Type 2 usually gets worse over time—so even if you don’t need to take medications at first, you may need to later on.

How will I know if my diabetes treatment is working? Know your ABCs:

  • Monitoring your A1C – Your A1C blood test will tell you if your overall diabetes treatment is working. Getting an A1C blood test at least twice a year helps you and your healthcare team keep track of how well you are controlling your blood glucose.  

  • Monitoring your Blood pressure - Your blood pressure numbers tell you how forcefully the blood inside your blood vessels is moving. High blood pressure indicates that your heart has to work harder. To prevent diabetes complications, having normal blood pressure is as important as having good control of your blood sugar.

  • Monitoring your Cholesterol- Your cholesterol numbers tell you about the amount of fat in your blood.  Diabetes tends to lower "good" cholesterol levels and raise triglyceride and "bad" cholesterol levels, which increases the risk for heart disease and stroke. 

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