Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ending Your Fear Of Diabetes

These are the two arms of diabetes. If you are having symptoms of one or the other, call your doctor or 911 immediately, or ask someone to do so for you.

Ketoacidosis is when your body is using fat instead of glucose as fuel, leading to a build up of acids called ketones in your blood and urine.

This occurs when your body has very little or no insulin to allow it use glucose as fuel. In response, the liver secretes glucose to correct the problem, but since there is no insulin in the body glucose is left unused, precipitating hyperglycemia, or abnormally high blood glucose level.

The symptoms of ketoacidosis include abdominal pain, deep and rapid breathing, increased thirst and urination, sweet-smelling or fruity breath, loss of consciousness and nausea. Ketoacidosis usually affect people with type 1 diabetes.

The other arm of diabetes is hypoglycemic coma which causes you to lose consciousness because blood glucose level in the body is abnormally low. Normally the body gets its glucose supply from carbohydrates. A drastic cut in carbohydrates intake, loss of appetite, or the lack of food could precipitate a hypoglycemic coma, as the body seeks to prevent damage to its vital organs.

The symptoms of hypoglycemic coma include confusion, dizziness, headache, double vision, lack of coordination, convulsion or unconsciousness.

When reference is made to diabetes, most people think about type 2 diabetes as 90 to 95 percent of diabetes cases are type 2. But there is also type 1 diabetes which is usually diagnosed in childhood. It occurs when the body produces very little or no insulin; suspected causes are genetics, viruses and autoimmune problems.

There is also gestational diabetes where high blood glucose occurs during pregnancy. Women with gestational diabetes, which may be cause by giving birth to a baby more than 9 pounds, have a higher risk of contracting cardiovascular disease, or type 2 diabetes later in life.

Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is usually diagnosed in adulthood. In this type, the pancreas secretes enough insulin, but the muscles, fat and liver cells do not respond to insulin. This is known as insulin resistance. People affected with type 2 diabetes are usually overweight. Family history and genetics, poor diet and low physical activity are other causes of type 2 diabetes.

Testing for diabetes may be done in four ways. Urine analysis is use to find glucose and ketones in the blood and urine. Alone it cannot diagnose diabetes, it should be used with other tests.

Fasting blood glucose level test is performed after the patient has not eaten for at least 8 hours. Blood glucose level higher than 126 mg/dL on two occasions shows diabetes is diagnosed. Between 100 to 126 mg/dL is called prediabetes, or impaired fasting glucose.

Oral glucose tolerance test is usually used to diagnose diabetes during pregnancy. A series of blood glucose measurements are taken after giving the patient a sweet liquid containing glucose. Blood glucose level higher than 126 mg/dL indicates the presence of diabetes.

Random blood sugar test is a non-fasting test, and may be performed regardless of when the patient ate. Several random measurements may be taken during the day. When the measurements vary widely is an indication of the presence of diabetes, as healthy blood glucose levels do not vary widely through out the day.

When diabetes is diagnosed it has to do with the secretion and use of insulin in the body. The digestive system extracts glucose from the carbohydrate foods you eat. Glucose enters the blood stream to be transported by insulin into muscles, fat and liver cells where it is used as fuel for repairing, rebuilding, chemical and electrical processes in the body.

The body's insulin supplier is the pancreas. It is a gland organ located in the abdomen, within the digestive and endocrine systems. The pancreas is both an endocrine gland that secretes insulin, glucagon and somatostatin; and an exocrine gland that secretes pancreatic juices containing digestive enzymes into the small intestine to break down carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

The endocrine section of the pancreas is made up of about a million cells cluster called islets of Langerhans. These are classified by their secretions.

The glucagon cells secrete glucagon hormone to increase blood glucose level, whereas insulin cells secrete insulin that moves glucose into the muscles, fat and liver cells to decrease glucose level in the blood.

The somatostatin cells secrete somatostatin hormone to regulate or stop glucagon and insulin secretion; while the PP cells secrete pancreatic polypetide to self-regulate pancreas secretion activities.

As you can see, these four cell types ensure that the pancreas does not overproduce insulin in the body, as this could lead to insulin resistance; or produce less insulin as this could lead to an abnormally high blood glucose level. Both events could precipitate type 1 or 2 diabetes.

Although the pancreas internal mechanisms keep it preforming well under normal conditions, like other organs of the body, the pancreas is sometimes attacked by diseases. Among these is pancreatic cancer, particularly cancer of the exocrine cells which has a high mortality rate.

Diabetes mellitus type 1 is another deadly pancreatic disease. It is a chronic autoimmune disorder where the body's immune system attacks the insulin secreting cells in the pancreas. Once these cells are disabled insulin secretion is reduced, or cut off leading to diabetes.

Since there is no cure for diabetes, it is like an unwanted lifetime companion. The goal of treatment, therefore, should seek to prolong life, reduce symptoms and prevent diabetes related diseases such as blindness, heart disease, kidney failure and amputation of limbs.

You can accomplish these objectives by blood pressure and cholesterol control, careful self-testing for blood glucose levels, physical exercise, foot care, medication and insulin use, as well as meal and weight control.

Your doctor may tell you to regularly check your blood glucose level at home. Using the right device, you need only a drop of blood to do so. Information gathered from self-testing will help your doctor prevent diabetes related complications, and indicate how well diet, medication and physical exercise are helping to control your diabetes.

When thinking about your health in relation to diabetes, the focus should be on maintaining a  healthy diet and body weight. You will find that more than any other cause, overweight and obesity are the main causes of diabetes.

Overweight and obesity are conditions where the body has more calories and fat than the cells can immediately process. A specialized membrane in the cell called endoplasmic reticulum (ER), which synthesizes proteins and processes fats will signals the insulin receptors to stop responding to insulin to allow it time to process the fat it already has. The unused insulin increases the body's blood sugar level which may lead to a type 2 diabetes.

While diabetes is usually diagnosed in patients over 40, it is now increasingly being diagnosed in overweight and obese children. This is sounding an alarm in the medical establishment, because obesity in American children has doubled since 1968, and it is just a matter of time when diabetes in children will also double.

A teenager or an adult who argues that he or she can do nothing about overweight or obesity has less information than is needed to make such life changing decision. For more information read my article titled, "Is Obesity A Disease or A Choice".

No matter how obese you are, you can reduce your weight. In doing so, you will be helping to reduce the $174 billion in direct medical and indirect costs spent in the U.S. a year on diabetes, while freeing yourself of carrying every where you go the excess weight you don't need, and begin enjoying the richness of your life in full.

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