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Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects millions of people worldwide. Most of these people are not aware that they have it or suspect that they are at risk of diabetes. Hence, the condition progresses into a life-long disease, which could have been avoided if recognized and managed early in life.
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder. An individual is diagnosed to have diabetes if he has unusually high level of circulating glucose. Glucose is a simple sugar that serves as the body’s fuel. It powers up many metabolic activities of our body. Without it, we will feel weak and easily exhausted. It can be obtained from food with sugars. The sugars (carbohydrates) in food are largely in complex forms, which need to be digested first to turn into simple forms, such as glucose, and then moved into the blood. In the presence of glucose in blood, the pancreas released enough amount of insulin to help the body absorb glucose.
People who are diabetic or at risk for diabetes do not produce enough insulin. As a result, glucose molecules accumulate and increase in concentration in the blood since they are not properly absorbed. The unusual rise of circulating glucose in the body is a hallmark of diabetes. These valuable molecules are excreted as waste (in the urine) or disrupt the internal balance (homeostasis) in the body, which in the long run can lead to weakening conditions as well as impair other important bodily functions, such as slowed wound healing and cardiovascular diseases.
There are two major types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin causing a rise in blood glucose. In type 2, the body is capable of producing and releasing insulin. However, because of vague factors, the body becomes unresponsive to insulin. Type 2 diabetes is the more common type of diabetes, with 90-95% prevalence. This type of diabetes can also affect people of any age although it is more common in older people. Other risk factors that lead to type 2 diabetes are overweight, sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet, gestational diabetes, genetic factors, and family history of diabetes.
People may not be aware that they have type 2 diabetes since the symptoms develop gradually. Once the symptoms manifest and recognized, the disease is likely at a chronic stage. If the early stages are left unmanaged, the condition can progress to diabetes. Presently, there is no cure for diabetes. Management of diabetic condition entails life long treatment and an overall change in lifestyle.
Type 2 diabetes may be hard to treat but it can be prevented. The symptoms need to be recognized early so that the condition is dealt with as soon as possible to prevent it from advancing into a disabling, life-long disease.