Although knowing a lot of people with diabetes, I never really knew what the disease was and how you develop it. After doing some research here is what I found. Diabetes is a disease where the body does not produce insulin properly and does not turn food into energy. Type 1 is when the there is a lack of insulin being produced in the body and type 2 is when the insulin does not work properly. There is a complicated exchange of food, glucose, insulin and energy that are all tied together when unbalanced can cause major health problems.
There are different contributing factors to developing diabetes such as high blood pressure, a diet high in sugars, fats, and alcohol as well as a lack of exercise. By incorporating exercise and healthy eating habits this will lower blood pressure and will help turn all three factors into less of a risk. Heredity is another increase in chance of developing the disease, as diabetes has strong genetic links. Being overweight is another candidate for the illness. If you are 20% over where your BMI should be then you have an increased chance which can be turned around by healthy weight loss. Eating regular meals with smaller portions will help lower glucose levels and regulate blood sugar. Certain medications can reduce function of the pancreas and increase chances so be careful with the medications you are using on a regular basis.
What about those who already have the disease?
Over 23 million people in the United States suffer with the disease and face scary complications such as heart and kidney disease, stroke, blindness, neuropathy, and amputation or even death. Some in the statistics we read about include small children who live different lives than the rest of us trying to stay as healthy as they can. Parents worry at all times – constantly checking on their little ones. Just the cost alone for these families adds another hardship. It is estimated that in 2007 over $218 billion were spent on the disease.
Although not a cure, there are ways for diabetics to semi-control their illness. Type 2 can regulate blood glucose by eating healthy, exercise, taking oral medication and sometimes insulin injections. Type 1 must have insulin injections and some take oral medications as well. Self-management training helps people with diabetes to successfully manage the disease and all of its related conditions. But merely trying to control this disease is not enough. For its sufferers life is complicated and miserable. They are at risk everyday for one of the major complications and even death. To see the young faces diabetes has claimed as victims should motivate us to speak out and never stop searching for a cure. The mothers of these young children, the spouses of adults, and the children of the elderly deserve to sleep peacefully knowing that their loved one is going to be fine through the night.
Knowing two people who suffered and then passed from this disease, I saw what a trial it was for the entire family. I had thought up until then that diabetes was just a sickness overweight or older people developed that made their diet complicated but I soon learned that it was a serious disease that can control the lives of millions. I dedicate this to the hope that people will educate themselves and fight for the cure for a little girl who battles this disease everyday and her mother who sacrifices so much to ensure her safety.
The entire month of November is National Diabetes Awareness month, and on November 14, 2010, is World Diabetes Day. In fact, every year, November 14 is World Diabetes Day. For more information visit www.worlddiabetesday.org
If you have a story or comment relating to this post, let us know!