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Prevent Diabetes in You: Start Now!

Every 10 seconds, someone dies from diabetes-related causes and 2 new cases are diagnosed in the world. Diabetes has become one of the leading causes of death in the modern world. And it is on the rise among younger people.

Let’s have a closer look at this disease which can be found almost in every population in the world.

Asian Outlook
WHO estimates that between 2000 and 2030, the number of people with diabetes will increase by 114% and Asia is the major region of a fast emerging diabetes epidemic. An estimate based on WHO data showed that among the top ten countries with the highest numbers of people suffering from diabetes by 2030, four will be in Asia –Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the Philippines. More people in Asia have also been diagnosed with abnormal levels of blood glucose, which means that more people have diabetes or the potential to develop it.

What is diabetes, actually?
Diabetes is a chronic disease that arises when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Chronic disease means a disease of long duration and generally slow progression.

Insulin is a hormone made by special cells in the pancreas called beta cells. Insulin enables cells to take in glucose from the blood and use it for energy. Failure to produce insulin, or of insulin to ad properly, or both, leads to raised glucose (sugar) levels in the blood (also known as hyperglycemia). That is why all people with diabetes have one thing in common. They have too much sugar, or glucose, in their blood.

There are three main types of diabetes. The most common are type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. A third type of diabetes, gestational diabetes, occurs during some pregnancies. Type 2 diabetes accounts for at least 90% of all cases of diabetes.

What’s the difference, anyway?
People with type 1 diabetes make very little insulin or no insulin at all. In type 1 diabetes, the immune system mistakenly destroys these cells. The body responds to the beta cells as if they were foreign invaders. In contrast, people with type 2 diabetes and women with gestational diabetes do make insulin. But for some reason the cells in their bodies are resistant to the action of insulin or their bodies don’t make enough insulin.

Anyone can get diabetes, even you.
Are you at risk? Below are several factors which, if you have any, may increase your risk of getting type 2 diabetes.

Family history. Having a family history of diabetes puts you at a higher risk for developing the disease than a person with no family history of diabetes.

Obesity. Type 2 diabetes tends to develop in people who have extra body fat. Where you carry your excess fat may determine whether you get type 2 diabetes: extra fat above the hips (central body obesity) is riskier than fat in the hips and thighs for developing type 2 diabetes. It is known that three-fourths of all people with type 2 diabetes are or have been obese3. Obesity is defined as having BMI >25 kg/m2.

Diet and physical inactivity. Changes in diet and physical activity related to rapid development and urbanization have led to sharp increases in the numbers of people developing diabetes. Leading an inactive “couch potato” lifestyle can also lead to obesity and diabetes.

No longer belongs to the old. Even though your risk of getting diabetes is higher when you get older, due to modern lifestyle, you may even be diagnosed with diabetes at a younger age. Studies show that diabetes develops at a younger age in Asian populations than in white populations.

Ethnicity. Diabetes affects different ethnic groups in different ways. Africans, Asians, and Hispanics are more likely to get type 2 diabetes than whites. But, type 1 diabetes is more common in whites than other racial groups.

For type 1 diabetes, having a family history of diabetes may increase the risk of getting diabetes. Virus, high maternal age, and exposure to several chemicals have been suspected as possible risk factors, but the risk factors for type 1 diabetes are still being researched.

A major difference in the characteristics of individuals with type 1 and type 2 diabetes is the age when diabetes was diagnosed. Typically, type 1 diabetes develops in individuals under the age of 40. Half of all people diagnosed with type 1 diabetes are under the age of 20. In contrast, most of the people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are over the age of 30. Nevertheless, nowadays, type 2 diabetes among younger people is on the rise.

Warning signs
More than one-third of all people with type 2 diabetes are unaware they even have the disease. But, because of the nature of type 2 diabetes, it is possible to have mild symptoms (what you feel) or signs (what the doctor can detect) of type 2 diabetes for years before diabetes is detected. You should be suspicious of getting diabetes if you have these symptoms: extreme thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision, being tired most of the time, leg pain or numbness, and losing weight though feeling hungrier than usual. Visiting a doctor may be a good thing to do if you experience 2 or more symptoms previously mentioned.

How high is “high blood sugar”?
Before someone is diagnosed with diabetes, he/she may have to go through several tests. Therefore, the values of blood glucose measured may depend on the type of tests used. But, in a fasting glucose test, the fasting glucose level is normally below 100 mg/dL.

In all types of diabetes, the glucose does not get into the cells that need it and builds up in the bloodstream instead. Over the years, high blood glucose damages nerves and blood vessels, leading to complications. This is associated with long-term damage to the body and failure of various organs and tissues, such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, nerve problems, gum infections and amputation. Therefore, it is important to attain normal or nearly normal glycemic control to lessen the incidence and severity of diabetic complications.

Diabetes is responsible for over one million amputations each year, a large percentage of cataracts, and at least five percent of worldwide blindness is due to diabetic retinal disease. Diabetes is the largest cause of kidney failure in developed countries. The risk of heart disease and stroke are all significantly higher for people with diabetes.

If I already have diabetes, what should I do?
Managing blood glucose levels can be done through balanced and healthy diet, combined with exercise, and regular monitoring of blood sugar. With good control of blood sugar, you can lower your risk of having diabetic complications.

Protect yourself from diabetes! The best way to prevent type 2 diabetes is to maintain an active lifestyle and to keep your weight at a healthy level.

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