Diabetes: The Silent Killer
You may never see it coming because it can strike without warning; attacking over 25 million people a year. It knows no race, age, creed or color. It has been called the destroyer because it can, and does, destroy the major organs in your body; and if left untreated, it will take your life. It’s Diabetes, the silent killer!
Diabetes has 3 primary forms: Type 1 – although usually diagnosed in childhood, many patients are diagnosed when they are in their 20’s. With this disease, the body makes little or no insulin; therefore, daily insulin injection(s) are needed. Although science has not determined the exact cause of the disease, research shows that genetics, viruses, and autoimmune problems may play a role in in its contraction.
Type 2 – is far more common than Type 1, and makes up most of the Diabetes cases. It usually occurs in adulthood, but young children and teens are increasingly being diagnosed with this disease. The pancreas does not produce enough insulin to keep blood glucose levels normal, and often, the body does not respond well to insulin. As a result, drugs like Metformin have been developed to make the body more insulin-susceptible. The reason Diabetes is called the “silent killer” is that many people with Type 2 Diabetes are unaware that they have it. And by the time it’s discovered, body organs have already been affected with little hope of repair.
And last, there’s Gestational Diabetes – this type causes high blood glucose that develops at any time during pregnancy in a woman who does not have Diabetes. Women who have gestational Diabetes are at high risks of Type 2 Diabetes and cardiovascular disease later in life.
Although Diabetes is not contagious, it is hereditary and can be contracted from a parent who has the disease. According to the American Diabetes Association, some ethnic groups experience a higher rate of developing Type 2 Diabetes than others. Studies have shown that African Americans and Native Americans show high statistics of developing Diabetes. However, Asians, Pacific Islanders and Hispanic Americans are very high risk as well. Although there are many factors that make one susceptible to getting Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, poor diet, and lack of exercise are major contributors.
Symptoms of Diabetes include: high blood levels of glucose which can cause problems such as, blurred vision, excessive thirst, fatigue, frequent urination, hunger, weight loss, and sharp drops in energy. Because the symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes usually develop over a short period of time, the condition is often diagnosed in an emergency setting.
The negative health impact of Diabetes can be divided into acute and long term; and, people with Diabetes have a two to four times, higher risk of fatal heart disease, especially women. Within 20 years of diagnosis, nearly all patients with Type 1 Diabetes and 60% of those with Type 2 Diabetes have a degree of retinopathy. Yearly eye exams and preventive treatment can reduce the risk of visual loss or blindness among people with Diabetes to less than one-half. Diabetes is the most common cause of non-traumatic lower limb amputation, but early detection can help prevent loss of life and limbs. According to Gwen Hall, author of “An Introduction to Diabetes,” she states that diabetic neuropathy or nerve damage affects 60-70% of people with Diabetes. Unfortunately for many, the ultimate symptom of Diabetes is death.
Much of the Diabetes management involves self-care and proper education. So, if you have it, do what’s necessary in order to keep it under control. And if you don’t, maintain a healthy lifestyle that will help fight it; so even if Diabetes tiptoes through the backdoor, it won’t be a “silent killer” to you.
By: Deborah Heggs