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Diabetes Mellitus: What It Is & Why You Need To Know About It

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The Statistics: 

Chances are, you know someone affected by Diabetes Mellitus. In 2012, according to www.diabetes.org, 29.1 million or 9.3% of Americans had diabetes. Of that 29.1 million, 21 million were not diagnosed.  In 2013, diabetes was listed as the 7th cause of death.

As a health and wellness advocate, it’s frustrating to read these statistics because the complications from diabetes can be controlled with proper health and wellness. Study after study has shown that there is improved glucose tolerance in those who employ a consistent healthy diet and exercise routine.

The Pathophysiology:

Diabetes Mellitus is disorder of insulin availability and is not just one disease. There are 4 clinical classifications of the disorder.

  1. Type 1A is commonly called type 1 Diabetes. Type 1A is an immune mediated destruction of the beta cells in the pancreas . The beta cells produce insulin and  when they are destructed there is not enough available insulin to transport the glucose into storage.  Insulin replacement therapy is usually indicated in these cases. There is sometimes a slow progression of the beta cells. This would be a more gradual destruction of the beta cells and referred to as Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adults, also referred to as Type 1.5 Diabetes.
  2. Idiopathic type IB diabetes is used to describe cases where there is beta cell destruction with no signs of autoimmunity. Only a small number of those with Type 1 diabetes fall into this category and it is usually inherited. Again, those with beta cell destruction usually will need an insulin therapy depending on the degree of destruction.
  3. Type 2 Diabetes was previously known as non-insulin dependent diabetes. The condition of hyperglycemia occurs when an individual has become insulin resistant rather than not having enough insulin. Generally, this disorder can be controlled with diet and exercise. However, if the individually does not adequately control glucose levels and diet,  than  first line of drug treatment will be Secretagogues, Biguanides (such as Metformin), Glucosidase Inhibitors (acarbose), Thiaxolidinediones, or Incretin-Based Agents. Insulin will be the last line of therapy in Type 2 Diabetes rather than the first line such as in Type I. Type 2 Diabetes used to be an adult diagnosed disease, but in recent years more and more children have been diagnosed, as childhood obesity has steadily climbed.
  4. Secondary Diabetes is diabetes that occurs as a result of other conditions. The conditions may be pancreatic tissue removal or other endocrine diseases such as acromegaly, Cushing Syndrome, or pheochromocytoma.

What are the early symptoms of Diabetes Mellitus?

In type 1 Diabetes and LADA the symptoms can manifest as extreme thirst, weight loss, and frequent urination. In addition, you may become shaky and fatigue (these are all signs of high glucose levels). Another sign that my husband specifically had was cramping-like charlie horse pain in his calves due to electrolyte imbalances. Typically, the individual is slimmer and a significant weight loss is a red flag that something is going on.

In type II Diabetes, the individual will have similar symptoms as type I, such as the thirst, fatigue, and frequent urination. However, the individuals diagnosed with Type II often have a higher BMI.

What are the long term complications of poorly controlled Diabetes Mellitus or blood glucose levels?

The complications of poor diabetes management goes on and on. Not properly managing glucose levels can lead to dizziness, eye problems, heart disease, hypertension, gut problems, kidney problems or even failure, sensory and motor function problems, and infections due to poor wound healing.

Poor glucose control can affect almost every system in your body. It is so important you check your glucose per your doctor’s orders (even if you’re feeling well!).  Take your medications as prescribed, eat a healthy diet, and see your doctor regularly. Being proactive in your diabetic maintenance is important in preventing complications.

Why should we care?:

This is such an important disease. I suspect we all know someone that has been affected by Diabetes Mellitus. It’s not going away either. With obesity on the rise, most agree Diabetes Mellitus will also be trending the same.

When we are more mindful of bodies and what we put in them, however, we can avoid this disorder. This is NOT a disease that is inevitable with the aging process. With proper nutrition and exercise Diabetes Mellitus can be avoided or managed.

Please stay tuned for my next week’s post where I will interview,  Andy Grider, (my husband) who was diagnosed in April with “Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adults”. He will talk to about how his diagnosis affects him, how he was proactive in the management of the disorder, and how he maintains a new healthy way of living. It was truly inspiring watching him take control of this disease. 

 

Until next time….Be the Change

~ Brooke

 

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About the Author:

Runner, yogi, nursing student, wife and mother of 2 beautiful boys in Dayton, OH. I hope to educate, empower and inspire others live more mindfully and balanced lives!
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