Diabetes – Understanding this Prevalent Disease
In 2015, 9.4% of Americans had diabetes, making it the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Every year that passes, the number increases by 1.5 million diagnosed cases, according to the American Diabetes Association. To understand how to treat it, we must first understand what it is and how it affects your body. Your body naturally changes the food that you eat into sugar, typically called glucose, which triggers your pancreas to release insulin. Insulin acts as a doorway that opens your cells, allowing that glucose to enter, which your body then uses as energy. When you have diabetes, your body fails to do this process on its own. There are a few titles that we commonly hear with diabetes that we may not truly understand what they mean. Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes, and Gestational Diabetes are the most common forms of this disease, and chances are you know someone with one of these conditions.
Type 1 Diabetes is also commonly referred to as Juvenile Diabetes, meaning that it has early onset, striking its victim in the early part of their life. Only 5% of the diabetic population will have this form.
Type 2 Diabetes is the most common form of the disease and begins because your body does not use the insulin properly. When this happens, it’s called insulin resistance. Your pancreas naturally makes the insulin, but begins to overproduce insulin when it realizes that it isn’t being used properly. Over time, the pancreas cannot keep up with the demand for insulin that keeps your glucose levels normal and outside intervention is then needed. These interventions come in the form of pills, insulin pumps, and serious lifestyle changes.
The last most common form of Diabetes is Gestational. While women are pregnant, their bodies are constantly changing, not only physically that we notice their stomachs getting larger as the months pass, but internally as well. Because of the influx of hormones during a woman’s body during her pregnancy, this confuses the insulin on what it should be doing. The hormones caused by the pregnancy cause insulin resistance which can in turn complicate an otherwise healthy pregnancy. Even though insulin does not cross the placenta into the baby, glucose can and does. The baby’s body then uses this glucose by storing it as “fat”, causing these babies to have higher birth weights than babies from mothers without Gestational Diabetes.
“Prevention and screening for Diabetes is so important to our health,” says Dr. Asiya Hussain, an internal medicine physician with Sanitas Medical Group at Silver Cross Hospital. “It is relatively painless to be screened for this condition – can be as simple as a finger stick or a blood draw.” Dr. Hussain explains the importance of lowering your risk factors, and how they can significantly impact your chances of getting this disease. “If you eat healthy, quit smoking, and exercise, these are some of the easiest ways to reduce the risks of diabetes.”
The Diabetes Center of Excellence at Silver Cross Hospital began in 1996 with a commitment to promote health and well-being and act as a resource center for individuals with diabetes and their family members. To this day, a team of specially trained nurses and dietitians work closely with patients and their physicians to develop a personalized program, teaching participants essential information and skills for managing diabetes. If you or a loved one needs assistance with their diabetes management or would like to schedule an appointment, please call 815-300-5990.