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Diabetes mellitus is a group of diseases characterized by a consistently elevated blood sugar level.
Diabetes comes from the word Siphon in Greek, while Mellitus is from the word Honey or Sweet. Having elevated blood sugars over an extended period of time leads to leakage of sugar in the urine and increased urination, hence the name and reference.
The most common types of diabetes are known as Type 1 and Type 2:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates, a staggering one in nine people -- more than ten percent of the United States population -- has either diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes. At the same time, an additional three in ten people have what is known as prediabetes – a condition in which blood sugar is high, but not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. It’s also important to note that diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the county in 2015.
According to the CDC’s latest data from 2015 and the national diabetes statistics report 2017:
What was interesting in the study from a preventive medicine perspective is that an estimated 34 percent of U.S. adults age 18 years or older (84 million people) had prediabetes in 2015, based on their fasting glucose or A1C level. We try to screen people early on for prediabetes, a potentially reversible condition through preventive medicine.
Type 2 diabetes is mostly a multifactorial disease. That means that there are many contributing factors that lead to the disease.
Diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin and/or when insulin production is compromised. Genetics plays a part as do other factors, such as obesity and dietary habits.
Think about it this way: when people gain weight and have more cells in their bodies, they will need more insulin to reach these cells and get glucose into them instead of leaving it circulating in the bloodstream.
There are many risk factors associated with an increased risk of diabetes. These are some of the most common ones:
Treatment for type 2 diabetes depends on a patient’s baseline A1c levels and risk factor modification. That means things like a healthier diet, losing weight, quitting smoking and cutting back on alcohol consumption can all impact your condition. Because of that, we usually start by recommending these lifestyle changes, but sometimes it is necessary to start directly with medication, usually oral.
Type 1 diabetes and some advanced cases of type 2 diabetes are treated with insulin hormone replacement.
Diabetes is a very dangerous condition, especially if not properly managed. It is a leading cause of death worldwide and can have significant complications that affect all organs. It is associated with an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease.
It can affect:
If left untreated, diabetes can cause metabolic disturbances like diabetic ketoacidosis, a serious condition that requires a hospital admission. In addition, severe long-term consequences can lead to limb amputation, blindness, cerebrovascular disease, renal impairment and cardiovascular disease.
Diet and exercise are key to managing diabetes. In fact, lifestyle changes are some of the best ways to do so. It is also important to regularly monitor your blood sugar levels and continue to see your doctor as recommended.
Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong condition. However, for people with prediabetes, and some cases of type 2 diabetes, the condition may be reversed with risk factor modification and adoption of a healthier lifestyle.
If you haven’t been diagnosed yet, healthy habits including eating a well-balanced diet, regular exercise and not smoking or vaping are the best things you can do for your health in the short and long run. When it comes to diabetes type 2, prevention is the best medicine.