What Is Diabetes? Symptoms, Causes, a Quick Guide About the Basics, Understanding Diabetes

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes defined: a brief explanation of the basics of diabetes, including symptoms and causes.

Known as the “pissing evil” in the 17th century, Diabetes has been around ever since causing untold grief for millions of people all over the world for the last 3,500 years.

In the US alone, diabetes is said to affect 23.6 million adults and children, with many more unaware that they have the incurable condition.

Incurable? Yes. But manageable? Certainly, if you take power over your diet.

The key to controlling diabetes – and that is the only way one can tackle this disease, by controlling it – all hinges on maintaining a steady blood sugar or glucose balance in the body.

Insulin and Glucose

Diabetes Relationship to Insulin and Glucose

Glucose comes from food and is turned into energy by our bodies.

Foods such as potatoes, pasta, and bread, as well as sweets, and cakes, will all have glucose in them, which becomes processed by the body once digested.

Normally, the hormone insulin (which is made by the pancreas) regulates the glucose in the blood without any problems.

♥ However, for some people, problems do arise when, for some reason, their body is unable to create any insulin at all, or is not making enough, resulting in the condition known as diabetes.

Health Impact

Diabetes Health Impact When Untreated

♥ Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to heart disease, strokes, kidney disease, impotence, nerve damage, and blindness.

♥ Research has also indicated that people with diabetes are 15% more likely to have an amputation than those without the condition.

When diabetes goes completely unchecked, people with the disease can become comatose, eventually resulting in their death.

It has been estimated that there are 1 million new diabetes patients diagnosed each year in the US, with 200,000 deaths attributed to diabetes annually.

Management Options

What Are Your Diabetes Management Options?

But it’s not all doom, and gloom for people with diabetes, because once the condition has been diagnosed, there are many ways to combat it, control it, and live happily with it.

In fact, for many Americans, life with diabetes is not a problem and they can lead perfectly active lives like anyone else. They just need to be careful, and keep balanced, which after all is what we should all be doing.

Diabetes comes in three main varieties – Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational.

Type 1

What Is Type 1 Diabetes?

This is an autoimmune disease whereby your immune system starts attacking the cells in the pancreas that create the much-needed insulin. As a result, little or no insulin is formed, and consequently glucose begins to build up in the blood.

♥ It is believed that between 5-10% of Americans have Type 1 diabetes.

♥ Symptoms include fatigue, thirst, persistent hunger, sudden weight loss, increased urination, and blurred vision. These symptoms usually occur during childhood, or young adulthood.

Type 2

What Is Type 2 Diabetes?

This affects 90-95% of Americans with diabetes and occurs when the body uses its insulin ineffectively. This is known as insulin resistance, and results in excess glucose in the blood.

♥ Not surprisingly, Type 2 diabetes is more commonly found in people who are obese and don’t exercise as much as they should, as well as older people.

♥ Symptoms include wound healing deficiencies, weight loss, fatigue, thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision, and regular yeast infections.

Gestational Diabetes

What Is Gestational Diabetes?

This form of diabetes is found mainly in pregnant women, usually around 28 weeks of pregnancy. It has been estimated that between 6-8% of American women experience gestational diabetes during this time.

If left unchecked, it can lead to problems with the new-born baby, including high birth weight and breathing problems.

♥ The worrying aspect is that women with gestational diabetes during pregnancy have a 40-60% likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes once they have given birth. But once diagnosed during pregnancy, gestational diabetes is easily controlled via a properly planned diet and exercise regime.


What Is Prediabetes?

There is a fourth element to the diabetes chain, and that is prediabetes.

Some 57 million Americans are thought to have pre-diabetes and research has shown that long-term damage to the heart and circulatory system occurs during pre-diabetes.

♥ This occurs with virtually everyone who has Type 2 diabetes and is a precursor to this stage of diabetes.

♥ This is where blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough for the person to be classified as having Type 2.

All four of these types of diabetes are treatable via diet plans, exercise, and in some cases medical use of injected insulin, or insulin in pill form.

The Facts

Diabetes Facts (Courtesy of American Diabetes Association)

Correlation to Death

Diabetes Correlation to Deaths

Of 72,507 death certificates in the US in 2006, diabetes was indicated as the underlying cause of fatality.

♥ This makes diabetes the 7th leading cause of death in the US.

In 2005 (the latest year for such statistics) there were 233,619 deaths where diabetes was the contributing cause.

Heart Disease and Strokes

Diabetes Correlation to Heart Disease and Strokes

Heart disease was noted on 68% of diabetes-related death certificates among the 65 and over age group in 2004, whereas stroke was noted on 16% of diabetes-related death certificates.

Death rates are 2-4 times higher among adults who suffered heart disease and diabetes, than those adults without diabetes. The risk of stroke is also 2-4 times higher among adults with diabetes than those without.

Diabetic Blindness

Of all new cases of blindness among adults aged 20-74, diabetes is the leading cause.

There are 12,000-24,000 new cases of blindness caused by diabetic retinopathy each year.

Diabetic Kidney Disease

Of 44% of new cases of kidney failure in 2005, diabetes was the leading cause.

178,689 people with diabetes in the US and Puerto Rico were living on chronic dialysis or with a kidney transplant suffering from end-stage kidney disease.

Diabetic Nervous System Disease

60-70% of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of neuropathy (nervous system disease).

Diabetic Amputation

Over 60% of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations occur in people with diabetes.

In 2004, there were around 71,000 non-traumatic lower-limb amputations performed on people with diabetes.

From the above information and facts, diabetes is a serious condition whichever way it strikes and it is only by careful monitoring from healthcare professionals, expert nutritionists and healthy exercise practitioners that diabetes can be properly managed, controlled, and regulated to ensure diabetics can get on in life and live their lives to the fullest without succumbing to the "pissing evil."

The Conclusion

It should be clear by now that if you have been diagnosed with diabetes, there are ways to help you live an active life that can still be enjoyed to the fullest – with some guidance and planning regarding choosing a suitable diet, combined with a workout of regular exercise.

Our professional team of nutrition and exercise experts at changingshape.com can help provide that guidance, and plan to create an individual schedule for you that is styled to meet your specific personal needs and help overcome the "pissing evil".

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