Despite the prevalence of diabetes worldwide, many people still don’t have a clear understanding of what it really is. The 2005 report of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) reveals that in the United States alone, about 21 million people have diabetes.
In the same report, 54 million people were found to have pre-diabetes- a condition where a person has abnormally high levels of sugar or glucose in the bloodstream but is still not high enough to be considered as diabetes.
However, if left unchecked, a pre-diabetes condition can easily develop to Type 2 Diabetes in just a few years. What is diabetes and why should you be interested to learn more about it? What are the different types of diabetes? Can it be prevented? In this article, let’s answer these questions one at a time.
Diabetes and You
Diabetes is a chronic condition that is characterized by excessive levels of sugar or glucose in the blood. A healthy person regulates his blood sugar levels with the help of a hormone called insulin. When there is a high sugar level in our blood, the pancreas is alerted to release insulin.
However, for some people, their pancreas is not able to produce insulin which results to excessively high blood sugar levels. This condition is known to be Type 1 Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes is often hereditary and as of yet, there is no known prevention to this type of diabetes.
On the other hand, Type 2 Diabetes is when a person becomes resistant to insulin or when the pancreas stops functioning properly. This type of diabetes can be developed at some point in a person’s life. In the past, people over the age of 45 are said to be more prone to developing Type 2 Diabetes. Senior citizens are also known to be at a greater risk of developing diabetes due to unhealthy habits, improper diet and an inactive lifestyle.
Over the years however, more and more cases of diabetes are found in children and adolescents. In fact, based on its researches, the ADA estimates that about a third of children born after the year 2000 are more at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes at some point in their lifetime. The culprits are the same- unhealthy habits, improper diet and an inactive lifestyle.
Another form of diabetes is called gestational diabetes and is developed during a woman’s pregnancy. The good news is, this condition will most likely go away after pregnancy. Nevertheless, medical experts show that mothers who have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes should be more careful about their health since they are also at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes at any time.
Can you prevent diabetes?
In 2002, the Diabetes Prevention Program was launched and based on its researches, the risk of developing type 2 Diabetes can be prevented through good nutrition, physical activity and self-management education.
Although Type 1 diabetes can’t be prevented, it can be controlled. By closely monitoring a person’s blood sugar levels along with proper diet and sufficient exercise – the risk of complications brought about by diabetes can be avoided.