Posted by: Kelley Dees | November 29, 2011

Diabetes: A serious health problem

Diabetes was the seventh-leading cause of death based on U.S. death certificates in 2007. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2007 alone diabetes accounted for more than 231,000 deaths. Currently, an estimated 18.8 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with diabetes and another 7 million people have undiagnosed diabetes. This equates to 8.3 percent of the U.S. population.

In the state of Wyoming, diabetes is the sixth-leading cause of death with a death rate of 25.7 per 100,000 population, compared to 24.6 nationally.

What is diabetes? What dangers are associated with diabetes? How does someone develop it? What can you do to help prevent it? If you have it, what can you do to help control it? These are all questions we will try to answer in our posts today and Friday.

What is diabetes? Diabetes is a metabolism disorder. Metabolism refers to the way our bodies use digested food for energy and growth. Most of what we eat is broken down into glucose, a form of sugar in the blood and the principal source of fuel for our bodies. When our food is digested, the glucose makes its way into our bloodstream. Our body uses the glucose for energy and growth. For glucose to enter our cells, insulin must be present. Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas. After eating, the pancreas automatically releases an adequate quantity of insulin to move the glucose present in our blood into the cells, and this lowers the blood sugar level.

In a person with diabetes, the quantity of glucose in the blood is too elevated because the body either does not produce enough insulin, produces no insulin, or has cells that do not respond properly to the insulin the pancreas produces. This results in too much glucose building up in the blood. The excess blood glucose eventually passes out of the body in urine. This means that, even though the blood has plenty of glucose, the cells are not able to get it for their essential energy and growth requirements.

What dangers are associated with diabetes? Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, nontraumatic lower-limb amputations, and new cases of blindness among adults. It increases the risk of heart attack and stroke two to four times. People with diabetes are about three times more likely to die of complications from influenza and pneumonia than are people without diabetes.

How does someone develop diabetes? There are three types of diabetes. Each develops in a different way, thus is treated differently.

  1. Type 1 (previously called juvenile-onset) diabetes is an auto-immune disease in which the body does not produce any insulin because of damage to the pancreas. This form of diabetes usually strikes children and young adults, although the onset can occur at any age.
  2. Type 2 (previously called adult-onset) diabetes is a metabolic disorder resulting from the body’s inability to make enough or properly use insulin. Type 2 is the most common form of the disease, which affects 90-95 percent of peole with diabetes, and usually appears after 40.
  3. Gestational diabetes develops in 2-5 percent of pregnant women who have never had diabetes before. It usually disappears when pregnancy is over.
  4. Other types of diabetes may result from specific genetic syndromes, surgery, medications, infections, pancreatic disease, and, in the case of agriculture, prolonged exposure to certain pesiticides.

Come back to see our next post on prevention of diabetes!

This information is provided courtesy of the Wyoming AgrAbility Project. For more information, visit our website or call toll-free at 866-395-4986.

This information is adapted from Wyoming AgrAbility 2011 Newspaper Insert: Diabetes–Accommodations for a serious health problem, by Dr. Randy Weigel, and from Medical News Today.

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