April 21, 2015
Diabetes is a lifelong, dangerous, and costly disease that is becoming too common in our country. In 2012, 29.1 million Americans, or 9.3% had diabetes. That is up 3.3 million, or 1% from 2010 (American Diabetes Association, 2014). According to the Center for Disease Control, diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in America (Center for Disease Control, 2014). Whether type 1 or type 2, diabetes occurs when levels of glucose in the blood climb too high due to the body not producing enough insulin or metabolizing the insulin correctly. Although they share a name, the two types of diabetes occur and progress in 2 different ways. People with type 2 diabetes can usually control it with diet, exercise, and medication, but those with type 1 need to begin insulin injections.
The basic building block of carbohydrates, glucose, is our body’s primary energy fuel. But before glucose can be used, it must be moved into cells with the help of insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas. When insulin levels are too low or when our cells resist it, excess glucose is left floating around in the blood. In type 1 the pancreas stops making insulin all together. This usually happens in children or young adults and makes up 5% of the people with diabetes (American Diabetes Association, 2015). Type 1 diabetes is actually an autoimmune disease, meaning the body attacks itself thinking it is a foreign substance. In this case, white blood cells, called T cells, attack and destroy beta cells in the pancreas that makes the insulin until it can no longer produce insulin. There are no known direct links to type 1 diabetes besides genetics and family history (Mayo Clinic, 2015).
In type 2 the body becomes insulin resistant, meaning the body’s muscle, fat, and liver cells do not use insulin effectively. Over time, the pancreas cannot create enough insulin to keep up with the high levels of sugar in the blood. Genetics play a big role in who will develop type 2 but environmental factors increase the likelihood of being diagnosed. The biggest link to type 2 is obesity. Cells in your body become more resistant the more fatty tissue you have. Another link is physical inactivity. Physical activity uses up glucose in your blood as energy and also controls your weight. Age plays a big role in who will develop this type. The older generation is more likely to be diagnosed due to loss of muscle, inactivity and weigh gain as we get older. Gestational diabetes a temporary form of type 2 but only occurs when a women is pregnant, usually around week 24.
After we eat, our bodies break down carbohydrates into glucose and is absorbed into the blood stream. The pancreas normally adjusts the amount of insulin it makes based on your changing blood sugar. When you have diabetes, your insulin injections can't control your blood sugar moment to moment in the same your pancreas would. So you may have high and low blood sugar from time to time. Even when diabetes is kept in check, those effected must deal with near-daily fluctuating levels of glucose in the blood. Mild dips make them feel temporarily confused. Slight bumps leave them tired. Hyperglycemia, high blood glucose, can be caused by:
Not getting enough insulin
Being ill or having an infection
Eating more food than usual.
Not exercising enough
Taking medicines that can raise blood sugar levels
Symptoms of hyperglycemia include:
Nausea or vomiting
Hypoglycemia, or low blood glucose can be caused by:
Taking too much insulin
Not eating enough
Exercising too much
Over consumption of alcohol
Medications that can lower blood sugar or chemotherapy
Symptoms of hypoglycemia include:
Pounding heart; racing pulse