What is Diabetes – Basics Overview

{SCA} Almost everyone knows someone who has diabetes. An estimated 23.6 million people in the United States—7.8 percent of the population—have diabetes, a serious, lifelong condition. Of those, 17.9 million have been diagnosed, and 5.7 million have not yet been diagnosed. About 1.6 million people ages 20 or older were diagnosed with diabetes.

Diabetes is a disease wherein the body fails to manufacture or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone  the body uses to convert starches, sugar, and other food products into energy for the body to use to allow it to function properly. The four major types of diabetes are Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, and pre-diabetes.

World-wide, diabetes affects huge numbers of people. In the United States alone, over 6% of the population — roughly 18 million people — are diabetic. While the exact causes remain a mystery, researchers have discovered certain symptoms. These symptoms include extreme thirst and hunger, frequent urination, blurred vision, weight loss, fatigue, and irritability.

For people with Type 1 diabetes, insulin must be taken every day. A diabetic will generally administer the insulin shot using a syringe or have someone else administer the shot for him. This type is more common in Caucasians and in people who live in colder climates.

Type 2 diabetes can often be controlled by monitoring the food one eats and by partaking in regular physical exercise. Some Type 2 diabetics may also need to take insulin shots or pills to regulate their blood sugar levels. Obesity is a major factor in acquiring Type 2 diabetes. If a person has an unhealthy diet of fatty food and exercises infrequently, he may be walking a path that will lead directly to this disease.

Pregnant women who become diabetic during their pregnancy have what is called gestational diabetes. This form of the disease affects approximately 4% of all pregnant women in the United States. Women who become diabetics during their pregnancy are likely to have a family history of diabetes. Obesity again may play a factor.

Pre-diabetes is simply a term for an individual who has blood glucose levels higher than normal. People with this condition are not quite at diabetic levels, but are more likely to develop the disease.

Though children of diabetics will not necessarily inherit the disease from their parents, research has shown that these children are more likely to get the disease than children of non-diabetics. Type 1 is also less common in people who were breastfed as infants.

Diabetes is a serious disease which can lead to heart problems, strokes, loss of limbs due to poor circulation, and death. Research continues to indicate that regular exercise and a healthy diet are two factors which can help people avoid this condition, as well as allow diabetics to have functional lives. Anyone who experiences some of the symptoms of diabetes should seek a doctor’s advice. Unfortunately, millions of people across the globe have diabetes, but it goes undetected because they ignore the symptoms and do not seek medical attention.