Approximately 537 million adults have diabetes worldwide. The number of individuals with type 2 diabetes is growing dramatically due to the rapid rise of obesity in the world, in addition to some other factors. In addition, the fact that diabetes is the most common cause of kidney disease makes it an even greater health problem.
A disappointing concern with type 2 diabetes is that many individuals have the risk of developing this illness, but they don’t realize this risk. Some people live with chronically high blood sugars for prolonged periods of time before they even realize they have an issue. This may be due to a lack of symptoms or not realizing the significance of certain symptoms.
Diabetes is also directly or indirectly responsible for a huge expenditure of health resources around the world. Therefore, a reduction in these numbers would have tremendous economic benefits.
In what follows, we’ll be detailing the characteristics of diabetes with a focus on type 2 diabetes, the main causes and risk factors, and the methods to implement to prevent the condition or reverse it if possible.
Characteristics of Diabetes
Diabetes is classified into two types: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 is the condition in which the pancreas does not produce insulin because of autoimmune destruction of certain cells in the pancreas. Type 2, or adult-onset diabetes, is the condition in which the pancreas produces less insulin, and the insulin that is produced is resisted at the cellular level leading to inadequate glucose metabolism. Type 2 diabetes is the most common and is the condition in which preventative measures can be the most effective.
In the condition of diabetes, individuals can have some specific signs and symptoms, including:
- Polyuria – increased urination
- Polydipsia – increased thirst
- Nocturia – the need to get up at night to urinate
- Blurred vision
Causes and Risks of Diabetes
The factors that lead to diabetes are related to insulin resistance and impaired insulin production.
Insulin resistance is defined as a condition in which the response to insulin by the tissues of the body is inadequate. This can be seen most frequently in cases of obesity. Pregnancy can also lead to impaired insulin response due to the production of hormones by the placenta, which counteracts insulin effects. In some individuals with type 2 diabetes, there are insulin receptor abnormalities that can lead to problems with insulin resistance.
Impaired Insulin Production
One of the issues that hyperglycemia can cause is a worsening response of the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. The increased glucose levels have a toxic effect on these pancreatic cells, and they produce less insulin.
Another thing that can happen with the pancreas is that it does not respond adequately to insulin resistance that occurs peripherally in the cells. The pancreatic beta cells don’t realize that the insulin levels in the blood are not controlling the hyperglycemia, and they don’t produce additional insulin to help the situation.
Prevention of Diabetes
It takes proactive motivation to prevent diabetes, and those that are aware of their risk of the condition will do well to adopt this behavior. If you know that you have a family history of diabetes, you should understand that you need to do what you can to prevent it from occurring in your life. Being aware of the biggest risks for diabetes, such as obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and poor diet, will be helpful knowledge for your life.
If you know that you have a family history of diabetes, it is also very important to see a primary care provider and be evaluated. They will do testing to assess your glucose homeostasis, which will include a hemoglobin a1c test. They will also perform glucose tolerance testing and compare the results to standard levels. Knowing this information will help you to make a plan to manage your risk effectively.
In addition, it will be important for any individual who is pregnant to be very careful about the risk of gestational diabetes. Also, for those who have had a history of gestational diabetes, it is imperative to be under the close management of an obstetrician for preventative management and appropriate proactive management in cases of recurrence of gestational diabetes.
A critical aspect of diabetes prevention will be to avoid smoking at all costs. Many studies have demonstrated the increased risk of developing diabetes in those who smoke. If you smoke, you must quit, and if you don’t smoke, then never start. Never even run the risk of getting addicted to nicotine. Smoking will only cause you bad health, and you must avoid it by any means.
Some of the best methodology for the prevention of diabetes is a lifestyle that includes exercise and healthy eating. This will decrease overall body fat, which is the culprit that instigates many problems with insulin resistance and production.
The dietary management of those at risk who wish to prevent diabetes can be made easier by following diet examples such as the DASH diet or the Mediterranean diet. In some clinical trials, these diets have correlated with a decreased incidence of diabetes.
Prevention of diabetes is an excellent goal, and anyone at risk should make every effort to achieve it. If more healthy-minded individuals had this attitude, diabetes could be thought of less as a disease and more as a complication. If the focus is placed on prevention of diabetes, the number of individuals who can benefit is overwhelming.