In November 2019, the 9th edition of the Diabetes Atlas was published, a document produced every two years by the International Diabetes Federation, which maps the scale of the disease in 138 countries. The research points out that, currently, 463 million people in the world have diabetes.
Also according to studies, the forecast is that in 2030 this number will rise to 578 million and, in 2045, to 700 million people with the disease. But after all, do you know what diabetes is?
Also known as diabetes mellitus, it is a chronic disease that causes metabolic disorders in which the pancreas does not produce enough insulin for the needs of the body, or when it does, the substance does not act properly.
Insulin is the hormone that controls blood glucose, a type of sugar that comes from the food eaten and it is the main source of energy for the body. It is the role of insulin to make sugar be absorbed by the cells to be used as an energy source.
That is, when a person has diabetes, the body does not “manufacture” enough insulin or does not use it properly, so glucose is also not distributed correctly. When this happens, hyperglycemia arises, which is excess blood sugar. Therefore, diabetes can cause damage to organs, blood vessels, and nerves.
It is important to note, however, that the disease has different names, which vary according to its origin.
Type 1 diabetes: Less common type, is caused by an autoimmune process. In type 1 diabetes, the body mistakes its structures for an invading agent, so it activates its defense system to end it. In this case, the immune system attacks the beta cells in the pancreas, responsible for producing insulin. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and adolescents, but it can occur at any age.
Type 2 diabetes: In type 2 diabetes, the body is unable to properly use insulin (the hormone that metabolizes glucose), which is a condition called insulin resistance. Another factor is when the amount of the substance produced is not sufficient to keep the glucose level within the normal range. This type is mainly caused by poor eating habits and lack of physical activity.
Patients with type 2 diabetes represent about 90% of the cases of the disease and are mostly adults over 40 years of age. However, it is important to warn that the number of children and adolescents diagnosed with the disease has also increased in recent decades, in parallel with the increase in the population’s obesity rate.
Gestational diabetes: This is hyperglycemia during pregnancy, which can occur in the third trimester. This is because during pregnancy the placenta produces some hormones that are resistant to insulin, also, the growth of the fetus increases its demand. That is why pregnant women are advised to exercise, maintain a healthy diet, and perform glucose tests. Gestational diabetes, however, usually disappears after the baby’s birth.
Pre-diabetes: First of all, it is important to note that pre-diabetes is not a disease, but a state that indicates a potential risk for developing diabetes. It exists to alert that the patient is at an intermediate level between healthy and type 2 diabetes.
Thus, when the result of blood glucose ranges from 100 to 125 mg/dl, it means it is altered, so it is necessary to do an oral glucose tolerance test. From this diagnosis, the pre-diabetic patient must redouble the care with the diet and practice physical exercises, to revert the condition.
In addition to those most common types, it is known that there are type 1A and type 1B diabetes. The first is characterized by insulin deficiency due to the autoimmune destruction of cells. The second, on the other hand, is idiopathic, that is, due to an unknown cause, and is also the rarest.
There are also cases of the disease arising from specific causes, such as problems in the pancreas, for example, pancreatitis and tumors. There is also a study published in the medical journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology in 2018, which points to the existence of five major groups of diabetes, and not just the two previously mentioned.
According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, each group has specific characteristics, which could justify why certain patients respond differently to a treatment. Thus, the information can contribute to the identification of cases of a high risk of complications, as well as leading to personalized treatments.
The most common symptoms related to high blood sugar are:In type 1 diabetes, it is common for signs to appear quickly. In type 2, some people do not have initial symptoms and can keep an asymptomatic disease for years.
The pre-diabetic does not usually present symptoms. Therefore, anyone who has weight gain, a family history of diabetes, and high sugar and fat diet, should seek medical advice, as these factors increase the risk of developing the disease.
Type 1 diabetes can occur due to genetic inheritance, that is, having a close relative with the disease increases the likelihood. Therefore, there is no way to avoid this type of diabetes, since it is a deficiency of the body.
In the case of type 2 diabetes, genetics is also involved, but other risk factors can be controlled and are related to the person’s lifestyle, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, overweight, and obesity.
Some primary diseases can cause this type of diabetes, such as polycystic ovaries, kidney disease, hypothyroidism, and others.
But if you think that the best way to avoid the disease is just not eating sweets, know that the story is not quite there. In general, excessive consumption of carbohydrates leads to overweight, which is a risk factor for diabetes.
However, the ideal is not to consume excessively high-calorie foods rich in carbohydrates and fats, to keep your blood sugar stable. It is also important to practice physical activity regularly, avoid medications that can harm the pancreas, and control the consumption of alcoholic beverages.
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