Diabetes affects thousands of people across the nation. Elderly people are especially at risk for developing the disease. Most people have an idea of what diabetes is, but they do not know the real details. If you or someone you love has diabetes or have been told they are at risk for the disease then keep reading to find out more information.
Both diabetes type 1 and type 2 affect your blood sugar. In your body, your blood sugar is controlled by a hormone known as insulin. Blood glucose levels can cause insulin to raise or lower in your bloodstream. In healthy individuals, immediately after a person eats, their blood sugar will raise. Immediately after this occurs, insulin will rush from their pancreas and work to counteract the high glucose levels in their blood. Insulin allows cells to absorb the extra glucose in order for the cell’s to function properly and for energy. People who have either type of diabetes will not have the latter rush of insulin. If they do receive a rush of insulin, then they will not receive enough of the hormone and the glucose will not be transported into their cells. In turn, their blood sugar will raise and they will be at risk for many other health problems. Here is a general overview of both types of diabetes to keep you and your loved ones informed.
Type 1 Diabetes
Diabetes Type 1 is an autoimmune disease that can pop up at any time in a person’s life. However, over 70% of people who are diagnosed with this type of diabetes are children under the age of 18. For this reason, type 1 diabetes is often known as juvenile diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the beta cells that secrete insulin from your pancreas are not working properly. In turn, people with type 1 diabetes will have a buildup of glucose in their blood whenever they eat and have a myriad of symptoms. Some of the common symptoms of type 1 diabetes include:
- Extreme thirst and hunger
- Feeling fatigued often
- Blurry eyesight
- Sudden weight loss
- Urinating a lot
- Dry skin
- Flushed skin
Even though type 1 diabetes is most often diagnosed in children, it can occur in anyone at any age. Elderly people are at risk for developing this disease if they have other relatives with type 1 diabetes. They also may be at risk if they have a presence of islet cell antibodies in their blood. If you have islet cell antibodies in your blood and have a family history of type 1 diabetes, then it is likely you will develop the disease. Also, people of Caucasian decent have a higher risk of developing the disease than people of other races.
Type 1 diabetes can vary in severity. However, everyone who has the disease must take insulin on a daily basis since their body does not produce any insulin. Patients with this disease must take insulin shots daily and check their blood sugar many times throughout the day. For severe cases, insulin pumps may be necessary or even a pancreas transplant.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes is often called adult onset diabetes. However, recently the disease has been showing up in children and adolescents. Type 2 Diabetes is vastly different from type 1 diabetes. Patients with type 2 diabetes do produce insulin, and they do not have an autoimmune disease. Instead, people with type 2 diabetes simply do not produce enough insulin. Doctors have found a direct correlation between being overweight and having type 2 diabetes. They believe this is because as a person gains weight, they eat more sugar and more food in general. Their pancreas can only produce a certain amount of insulin, and overtime their pancreas will not be able to compensate for the excess calories that are being eaten. Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:
- Extreme thirst and hunger
- Dry mouth
- Blurry vision
- Numbness of hands and feet
- Frequent infections
Just like type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes can also very in severity. People with the disease may be insulin dependent, or they may be able to take blood sugar controlling pills. Since type 2 diabetes is tightly correlated with extra body weight, patients with the disease can manage their condition if they follow a healthy diet and exercise plans. Most doctors will suggest that their patients with type 2 diabetes begin cutting sugars from their diet and start an exercise program. Walking as little as 30 minutes per day can help reduce a patient’s blood sugar and keep their disease in check. Exercising utilizes glucose, and therefore if patient’s exercise after they eat, then their body will utilize some of the extra glucose in their bloodstream.
If left untreated, then type 2 diabetes can cause severe health problems to arise. For this reason, if you or your loved one is overweight or eats a lot of sugar, then they may need to be tested for the disease. People who are overweight and who do not exercise present the highest risk for the disease. People with a history of type 2 diabetes in their family also carry a higher risk for developing the disease.
Both type of diabetes can be serious. If you begin to show symptoms of either type of diabetes, then it is vital that you visit a doctor. If left untreated, then the excess glucose in your blood can lead to dehydration or damage to your cells and tissues. People can also fall into diabetic comas and need to be hospitalized in order to get their blood sugar and insulin levels back in check. Treatment for both diseases is relatively simple, and if caught early, then your disease can be managed very easily. Talk with your doctor about the risk you carry for developing either type of diabetes, and always report any new symptoms to your doctor.
For additional information on Diabetes, check the following articles in our home care blog:
- Common Myths and Misconceptions about Diabetes
- The Basics of a Healthy Diabetes Diet
- Tips for Managing Diabetes