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AGING CONDITIONS: DIABETES

 

Introduction

Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. The cause of diabetes is not clearly defined, although both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles.

Diabetes is not exclusively an aging condition, but factors of aging tend to lead to a predisposition to develop type 2 diabetes. Nearly one third of those suffering from diabetes have not yet been diagnosed. Early detection of diabetes symptoms and treatment can decrease the chance of developing the complications of diabetes

Diabetes is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Diabetes Test Kits

 

Types of Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes - results from the body's failure to produce insulin, the hormone that "unlocks" the cells of the body, allowing glucose to enter and fuel them. It is estimated that 5-10% of Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes - results from insulin resistance (a condition in which the body fails to properly use insulin), combined with relative insulin deficiency. Most Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes - affects about 4% of all pregnant women - about 135,000 cases in the United States each year.

Pre-diabetes - condition that occurs when a person's blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. There are 41 million Americans who have pre-diabetes, in addition to the 20.8 million with diabetes.

 

Symptoms of Diabetes

Common symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Increased fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Blurry vision

 

Compliations of Diabetes

Complications caused by diabetes typically take years to develop. They occur as a consequence of a process that occurs with high blood-sugars. These sticky sugars gum up the blood vessels, triggering many biochemical changes. These changes include an increase in harmful free radicals that injure blood vessels and over time, clog them with cholesterol-rich plaque deposits [atherosclerosis]. This process causes all the major complications of the disease:

Cardiovascular Disease

Atherosclerosis is the underlying cause of cardiovascular disease. People with diabetes have three times the risk of heart disease and five times the risk of stroke compared with non-diabetics. About 40 percent of nondiabetic Americans die from cardiovascular disease. Among diabetics, the figure is 70 percent.

Wound Infections

Diabetes narrows the blood vessels in the legs and feet, reducing the volume of healing blood supply to minor wounds, especially in the extremities. Diabetic foot wounds are particularly slow to heal, and may not heal at all. This can lead to gangrene and require amputation. Diabetics account for most of the nation's foot and leg amputations.

Kidney Failure

Diabetes narrows the blood vessels in the kidneys (diabetic nephropathy), the kidney becomes overworked, and eventually, may stop working. Renal failure is a life-threatening condition that requires dialysis or kidney transplantation. The vast majority of the Americans on dialysis or waiting for kidney transplants are diabetic.

Eye Problems

Diabetes also narrows the blood vessels in the eyes (diabetic retinopathy), which can cause bleeding and blindness. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of adult blindness. Compared with non-diabetics, people with the disease are four times more likely to go blind. After 15 years of diabetes, 97 percent of people show some signs of retinopathy.

Nervous System Impairment

When diabetes narrows the blood vessels that nourish the nerves (diabetic neuropathy), tingling, numbness, and persistent pain, is commonly experienced, usually in the hands and feet. Neuropathy can also affect other parts of your body. In the digestive tract, neuropathy causes constipation, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. In the urinary tract, it increases risk of bladder infections. And it contributes to diabetic sex problems--possible erection impairment in men, and loss of vaginal lubrication in women.

Wellness Treatment of Diabetes

Along with diabetes medication, there are a number of wellness lifestyle changes that will significantly contribute to recovery. These include:

Diabetes Supplements

Diabetes Travel Organizers & Other Products

These changes cause your cells to become less insulin resistant (more "insulin sensitive"). As this happens, you can often stop taking diabetes medication and injecting insulin.

With these changes, the diabetes is not technically "cured" as there is still a residual tendency toward insulin resistance. This means that should you reverted to your previous lifestyle, you could easily become diabetic again. .

Until then, for practical purposes you no longer have diabetes.

Guides To Managing Diabetes

 

Further Resources

American Diabetes Association

Latest News on Diabetes and Treatments

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