Diabetes (Diabetes Mellitus in medical terms) is an endocrinological disease that afflicts close to 200 million people worldwide. It is often characterized by high blood sugar levels, and is one of the leading killer diseases worldwide (Eisenbarth 23). Unfortunately a huge percentage of diabetics have limited access to medical care and treatment. Majority of the sufferers are also unaware that they have the disease, and therefore continue feeling its debilitating effects under the illusion that they are actually suffering from some other diseases. Diabetes occurs in different forms, and it is easy to confuse their symptoms if one is not keen. This paper examines the different types of diabetes, their causes and what can be done to alleviate its effects now and in the future.
According to the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), type 1, diabetes, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes are the most common. There also exists a different type called HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latent_autoimmune_diabetes_of_adults” o “Latent autoimmune diabetes of adults” Latent autoimmune diabetes of adults (LADA) which usually presents itself as type 1 which occurs in adults and pre-diabetes which is characterized by high blood sugar levels but which are not high enough to be termed as type 2. Discussion will focus on the two common types, i.e. type 1 and 2.
Also referred to as insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM), this type of diabetes occurs when the pancreas is not able to secret sufficient insulin to regulate the blood sugar level, thereby leading to unusually high levels of sugar in the blood (American Diabetes Association 41)
Common symptoms include fatigue, increased thirst, increased urination, nausea, vomiting and weight loss regardless of an increased appetite. The symptoms usually develop more rapidly than those associated with type 2, and if medical attention is not received the disease may prove fatal (Eisenbarth 74).
Positive diagnosis usually occurs when any of the following can be proved:
A fasting plasma glucose level that is at or above 7.0 mmol/L (126 mg/dL).
HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plasma_glucose” o “Plasma glucose” Plasma glucose level that is at or above 11.1 mmol/L (200 mg/dL), usually two hours after a 75 g oral glucose load as in a HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glucose_tolerance_test” glucose tolerance test.
Hyperglycemic and causal plasma glucose symptoms that are at or above 11.1 mmol/ (200 mg/dL).
HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glycated_hemoglobin” Glycated hemoglobin (hemoglobin A1C) that is at or above 6.5. The American Diabetes Association suggested this method but the WHO is yet to adopt it.
Prevention and Treatment
Type 1 diabetes cannot be completely prevented, but there are subtle methods like the use of immunosuppressive drugs, maintenance of a healthy diet administration of vaccines. Timely treatment which involves the administration of insulin either in liquid form through injections or the use of insulin tablets can cure a patient.
Also known as non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NDDM), type 2 diabetes is markedly different to type 1in that it is considered a lifestyle disease. 90 to 95% of diabetics in America suffer from this type (American Diabetes Association 12). It is predominant in overweight people and adults who lead unhealthy lifestyles by eating poorly and being physically inactive.
As it was mentioned above, type 2 diabetes is mainly brought about by leading unhealthy lifestyles by eating poorly, smoking, drinking and being physically inactive. Other causes may include medical conditions and genetic traits.
Both types share some symptoms like fatigue, increased urination and increased thirst, but others like blurred vision, slow-healing wounds and erectile dysfunction are mostly limited to type 2. Apart from this, type 2 diabetes tends to progress slowly compared to type 1, and therefore it may take a long time for the first clear symptoms to emerge.
For one to be positively diagnosed with type 2 diabetes the following must be demonstrated:
Fasting blood glucose level that is higher than 126 mg/dL on two occasions.
Random (non-fasting) blood glucose level that is higher than 200 mg/dL and accompanied by the characteristic symptoms of urination, fatigue and increased thirst.
Oral glucose tolerance levels higher than 200 mg/dL after 2 hours.
Prevention and Treatment.
The most recommended method of prevention is through regular exercise and maintenance of healthy lifestyles. Recent studies have shown that individuals who do not smoke and drink but exercise regularly and eat healthy diets can reduce their chances of acquiring type 2 diabetes by just over 80% (Eisenbarth 87). On the other hand, sufferers can reduce the effects by close to 50% through observing the mentioned practices.
It is obvious that diabetes is a major health concern the world over. The statistics in America in particular are worrying. WHO statistics show that about 200 million people are currently living with some type of diabetes, and by 2030 this figure is expected to double. Type 2 is the most common especially in developed countries. 8.6 million Americans (18% of the population) who are 60 years old and above suffer from diabetes. This paper has highlighted the basic information that one should know about diabetes, but people need to be more vigilant in the way they treat their health especially when it comes to lifestyle diseases like type 2 diabetes.
All efforts made to combat this disease should be focused on preventing it and raising awareness about it. It is pathetic that there are people suffering from this disease who are not even aware about it. Governments everywhere should know that pouring colossal amounts of money into research while people are dying is not wise. The immediate concern should be prevention and management while we wait for a cure, and that is a model that has been tested and found to be successful for other diseases (American Diabetes Association 54).
American Diabetes Association. (2007). How To Diagnose And Classify Diabetes Mellitus. New York: Random House.
Eisenbarth. G. (2008). Type 1 And 2 Diabetes Mellitus. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier.