Diabetes is a chronic illness that causes serious and even fatal deterioration of body systems. There are two common types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2 and one form that is often conditional called gestational diabetes. As the name implies, gestational diabetes occurs to women when they are pregnant. In some cases, it lasts beyond pregnancy.
Nationally, the number of diabetes cases in the United States is staggering. As of 2017, the country’s population was 325.7 million. In the same year, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced that 100 million Americans had either diabetes or pre-diabetes, the term used for people who are borderline for developing full-blown diabetes.
While 84.1 million of those 100 million were adults with symptoms of pre-diabetes, the numbers are still extraordinary. Essentially, more than 1 in 3 adults in the country were borderline diabetes cases.
Each type of diabetes has the same potential for damaging body systems. Each of them results in an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, potential vision loss (blindness) and extensive nerve damage, especially in the extremities, such as feet and hands. Amputation is a potential end result of nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy) when it is uncontrolled for too long. Another possibility is slow healing. Persons with diabetes must monitor their feet closely to ensure that wounds are properly addressed. With advanced diabetes, wounds can take so long to heal that infections and other complications are very possible.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is most often diagnosed during childhood. It is caused when the body (the pancreas) stops producing the hormone insulin, which the body uses to regulate glucose (sugar) levels in the bloodstream. High blood glucose levels are very damaging to your body, eventually causing long-term damage to your circulatory and nervous systems.
Type 2 Diabetes
Often associated with being overweight or obese, Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body stops effectively using the insulin your pancreas is producing, which results in the same high blood glucose levels as Type 1 diabetes. The same long-term damage to nervous, circulatory and other body systems can result.
The symptoms of diabetes are usually associated with an acute rise in blood sugar levels. Having diabetes does not, in itself, result in any specific pain, so the first time a patient notices something is wrong is when a variety of associated symptoms appear. These include:
- Constant thirst
- An almost constant need to urinate
- Blurred vision
- Tingling or numb sensations in hands or feet
- Dry skin
- Weight loss
- A spate of infections
Type 1 diabetes often includes symptoms that escalate quickly, while Type 2 diabetes can be present for many years before symptoms become acute enough to notice. In fact, data shows that a quarter of those with diabetes don’t know they have the disease.
Treatment for diabetes includes holistic/organic and conventional medical approaches. However, just because they are defined as holistic or organic does not mean the natural approaches are insignificant. People with diabetes who ignore exercise and diet put themselves at tremendous risk of having uncontrolled blood sugar levels.
There are three basic ways the body processes glucose in the blood. One of these is by burning up energy through movement – exercise. The sugar in your blood is directly affected by how much energy your body can use. This makes exercise a key factor in blood sugar control.
Diet is the second natural way to control blood sugar levels. There is sugar in many foods, including fruits, vegetables, milk, and grains. Food low in sugar or without sugar include meats, certain vegetables, nuts, and eggs.
On the other hand, foods with high sugar content are common in the American diet. Candy, ice cream, donuts, cake, soda are just a few of the worst culprits that quickly affect blood sugar levels.
Carrying extra pounds makes it harder for your body to make use of the insulin it produces. Lose weight and someone with Type 2 diabetes can reduce his or her dependence on insulin injections.
Aside from insulin injections, doctors prescribe a variety of medications these include drugs that help control glucose levels or raise or lower glucose levels when needed. With diabetes, the body has lost the ability to regulate glucose levels. Sustained high levels of glucose in the blood (hyperglycemia) can be extremely harmful, but low levels (hypoglycemia) can also be dangerous. Low blood sugar levels result in dizziness, cognitive dysfunction and eventually, if levels fall too low, coma and death.