September 20, 2019 12:21 pm
Diabetes is a condition that affects how the body processes insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. Your body uses insulin to convert glucose (sugar) into energy, and your cells use insulin to store and metabolize glucose. Insulin is like the key that unlocks the cell door for glucose to get in and do its work.If you have diabetes, your body has trouble producing or accepting insulin. Type 1 diabetes (often called “juvenile diabetes”) causes your pancreas to malfunction when it’s trying to produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes (diabetes mellitus, or high blood glucose) causes your cells to develop insulin resistance and malfunction when they’re trying to use insulin to turn glucose into energy.Diabetes is very common and it puts people at risk of a number of life-threatening problems, such as diabetic coma, heart disease, and stroke. “Diabetes is the most common thing that I see,” said Saltzer Health’s Dr. Erik Richardson. Dr. Richardson, a Family Practice physician, discussed diabetes and its relationship with obesity in a podcast on July 9, 2019. Richardson continued, “I see at least 6-8 patients a day with Diabetes.” According to Dr. Richardson, there’s a strong link between diabetes and obesity.Nationwide, around 30.3 million people — or 9.4% of the population — have diabetes. Type 2 diabetes — which may be preventable — accounts for 90% to 95% of cases.
Type 2 Diabetes Causes and SymptomsSince 1990, researchers have observed a genetic predisposition to insulin resistance. People who develop type 2 diabetes are more likely to have diabetic parents. However, there’s also a strong association between obesity during pregnancy and insulin resistance in young, otherwise healthy offspring. Environmental factors are a powerful contributor to diabetes. Children with unhealthy diets, who are insulin-resistant and sedentary, can develop diabetes at an early age. However, it’s more common for them to develop type 2 diabetes in adulthood.
Risk Factors and CausesThe risk factors and causes of type 2 diabetes include:
- Obesity: Dr. Richardson estimates that in the cases he sees, a chronic condition like diabetes is directly linked to obesity 70% to 75% of the time.
- An unhealthy diet high in sugar: Dr. Richardson notes that “The more we’re having white flour breads and pastas and all these kind of things, we’re just flogging our body with sugar, which makes insulin go up and up and up.”
- Genes: “Certainly, there are genetic components and some people who aren’t overweight still have diabetes,” says Dr. Richardson. “But that is still the minority.”
- Sedentary lifestyle: A lack of exercise significantly elevates the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
- High blood pressure: Although researchers have not been able to prove hypertension causes diabetes, the two are linked. A study showed that people with high blood pressure are 70% more likely to develop diabetes.
- Native American, Alaska Native, African-American, Asian/Pacific Islander, or Hispanic American descent: Prevalence varies, but individuals in these race/ethnic groups are more prone to diabetes.
- Gestational diabetes: Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that some women develop during pregnancy. If it’s not checked, the mother may give birth to an overweight baby who will be more likely to develop diabetes later in life.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): PCOS occurs in women who have a reproductive hormone imbalance, which causes them to gain weight and may increase the chances of developing diabetes.
SymptomsAbout 7.2 million people, or nearly 24% of those with diabetes, are undiagnosed. If you’re undiagnosed and experiencing symptoms, seek immediate medical attention. The symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:
- Frequent and excessive urination;
- Excessive hunger and thirst;
- Excessive fatigue;
- Excessive weight gain or weight loss;
- Blurry vision;
- Delay in the ability of wounds to heal;
- Poor circulation, resulting in frequent tingling, numbness, and pain in your hands and feet;
- Dark skin spots on armpits, neck, or groin;
- Frequent infections, including yeast infections;