Diabetes: The facts
Diabetes (referred to as “diabetes mellitus”, “dm,” or simply “diabetes”) is a serious health condition. It is a disease which occurs when the body is unable to regulate the amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood. It is one of the most widespread that affects almost everybody regardless of their age and sex. In recent years, both the average life expectancy and the prevalence of diabetes are rising continually.
When we eat, our body breaks down the carbohydrate we consume into glucose which is then transported in the different body cells where it would be converted into energy require to perform daily activities. However, the glucose produced cannot reach the body cells without the help of insulin, which is produced continuously by the pancreas in healthy individuals.
After a meal, the blood glucose level increases which also leads to increase in the production of insulin to cater for the transportation of the glucose to the body cells. People get diabetes when their blood glucose level is too high. This may result from either the pancreas not producing enough insulin or the body cells are resisting the insulin produced. These may cause an increase in the blood glucose level, damage the cells that need glucose, cause harm to the tissues and organs that are exposed to the increase in glucose and ultimately leads to diabetes.
Types of diabetes
There are two major types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the pancreas makes little or stop producing insulin. It is caused by a lack of insulin due to the immune system destroying the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. While the cell destruction may occur over several years, the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes usually develop over a short period. Type 1 diabetes is mostly prevalent in children and young adults although adults can also develop it.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes; it is caused when the body cells are resisting insulin. In Type 2 diabetes, the body makes insulin but doesn’t use it effectively. It occurs mostly in middle-aged and older adults who are overweight, persistent high level of stress or have a family history of the disease. It has been reported that genetic susceptibility and environmental factors can also cause Type 2 diabetes.
Many factors may contribute to the development of diabetes in older people (age over 45), some of which include:
People tend to gain weight as they age. Being overweight increases the fatty tissue in the body, this increase the cell resistance to insulin which is the primary risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Try these natural apple cider vinegar tablets – very cheap, but they are a great natural way to lose weight.
Older people often indulge in less activity which can lead to weight gain. Physical activity can help control the body weight by using the glucose in the body and making cells more sensitive to insulin.
People whose parent or sibling have diabetes are likely to develop it.
Prediabetes is a condition that occurs when the blood sugar level is higher than normal but not high enough to be regarded as diabetes. If untreated, Prediabetes often leads to Type 2 diabetes. It also increases an individual risk of developing stroke or heart disease. However, a change in lifestyle including a healthy diet and physical activity can help control Prediabetes and prevent it from developing into Type 2 diabetes.
Symptoms to look out for at the onset of diabetes
Diabetes is an increasing problem among older people with a large number of newly diagnosed patient been elders. Older people are often weak and prone to illness which means diabetes-related complications are more common and harder to manage. Below are some of the signs of diabetes to look out for in older adults.
Excessive thirst and frequent urination
Excessive thirst and frequent urination are part of the most common sign of diabetes. The kidney is forced to overwork by filtering and absorbing excess glucose in the body of individuals with diabetes. When the work overwhelms the kidney, the excess sugar along with the tissue fluids are converted into your urine. This leads to more frequent urination and an increase in water consumption to compensate for the water lost through urination.
People with diabetes usually lose more calories than they consume. Loss of glucose and water through frequent urination and dehydration can lead to weight loss.
Fatigue is one of the signs of diabetes. Diabetes keeps the body glucose from reaching the body cells leading to the body lacking energy. This results in feeling fatigued or consistently tired.
High blood sugar level can cause blurry vision as fluids are pulled from the body tissues including the eyes lenses. If left untreated, diabetes can also form new blood vessels in the retina and damage established vessels. This can lead to vision impairment and blindness.
Poor healing of wounds and frequent infections
High levels of blood sugar prevent white blood cells from working properly. This cause the cell not functioning properly leading to wounds taking long to heal and getting infected easily. It also affects the body’s ability to fight infections.
Tingling hands and feet
Excess sugar in the blood can lead to nerve damage. This may make individuals with diabetes to experience a tingling and burning pain in the hands and feet.
Patches of darkened skin
Insulin resistance may leave dark patches on the body of people with diabetes.
Diagnosing and treating diabetes among older people requires a flexible and unique approach to the signs and symptoms might develop slowly and can even take years before it’s diagnosed. Lifestyle change by adopting a diet plan and exercise can be difficult for older adults. However, understanding the possible signs of diabetes at the onset can lead to early diagnosis and treatment which can help control and prevent its problem.
Remember – We aren’t doctors here! If you have any concerns about your health, you should contact your doctor.