What is Pre-Diabetes and Diabetes?

June 16, 2011 | By NaturoMedica Doctor | Diabetes, Diabetes, General, Men's Health, Weight Management, Women's Health | Share
What is Pre-Diabetes and Diabetes?

What is Diabetes?

If you had a deadly disease raging through your body – wouldn’t you want to know about it? Type 2 diabetes is a very serious disease that strikes millions of people every year. Unfortunately, many people are not aware that they have the disease. Currently, there are more than 25.8 million children and adults in the U.S. that have diabetes. It is estimated that 79 million of all US adults over 20 have pre-diabetes and 70 million people are undiagnosed at this time. Serious long-term complications from diabetes include heart attacks and stroke, blindness, kidney failure, nerve damage and amputation. Diabetes is reaching epidemic proportions worldwide and many people die from complications of the disease before having the opportunity to be diagnosed. Diabetes, the silent killer, is the fastest-growing disease in history. Diabetes is a disorder in which glucose or blood sugar levels are too high. Most of the food we eat is broken down into glucose, the form of sugar that our body uses for energy. The pancreas, located near the stomach, produces a hormone called insulin which helps deliver glucose to cells in the body. Glucose is vital to your health as it provides energy to your muscles, tissues and mostly importantly, your brain. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas either produces too little or no insulin or the cells in the body ignore the insulin that is produced. This can cause damage to the heart, eyes, kidneys, or nerves. Glucose can also overflow into the urine and thus deplete your body of its main fuel source.

What is Pre-diabetes?

Pre-diabetes occurs when a person's blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. Other terms for pre-diabetes include impaired fasting glucose tolerance (IFGT) or impaired glucose tolerance (IGT). People with pre-diabetes have a 1.5-fold risk of cardiovascular disease compared to people with normal blood glucose. You can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes most often through lifestyle changes such as weight loss, diet and exercise. Pre-diabetes may be diagnosed through a fasting blood test or through an oral glucose tolerance test. You must fast overnight for these tests. Normal blood sugar should be under 100 mg/dl. Pre-diabetes is determined when fasting blood sugar levels are between 100 mg/dl and 125 mg/dl. Diabetes is diagnosed when blood sugar levels rise to 126 mg/dl or above, confirmed by a second test on a different day. Millions of people have pre-diabetes and have been undiagnosed as they may not be aware of the signs or symptoms such as frequent desire to urinate, fatigue, unusual thirst or blurred vision. Many people will not have any symptoms with pre-diabetes.

What are the Types of Diabetes?

In addition to type 2 diabetes, there are two other types of diabetes which are called type 1 and gestational diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system destroys the beta cells in the pancreas. Therefore, little to no insulin can be produced. Insulin is a hormone needed to convert sugar into energy. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in childhood or early adulthood and the cause is unknown. Type I diabetes makes up approximately 5% of the population and insulin replacement is necessary. Symptoms of type I diabetes may include intense thirst, frequent urination, extreme hunger, weight loss, vision changes or loss and fatigue. Consult your doctor if you're concerned about diabetes or if you notice any type 1 diabetes signs and symptoms. Diabetes type 1 is not preventable and requires insulin treatment.

Gestational diabetes may develop in a pregnant woman who has not been previously diagnosed with diabetes. This is usually diagnosed around the third trimester. It is one of the most common health problems which may occur during pregnancy. The cause for gestational diabetes is unknown. However, it is believed to be associated with change in a woman’s hormones and/or a shortage of insulin during pregnancy. Having gestational diabetes doesn’t mean that you will have diabetes after your baby is born, but research reveals that there is an increased risk for having gestational diabetes with future pregnancies and the risk for developing type 2 diabetes 5 to 10 years later and/or having preeclampsia during your pregnancy (high blood pressure with protein in the urine), or a caesarian birth may be a result. Children born from a mother who had gestational diabetes, may experience childhood obesity and develop type 2 diabetes. Gestational diabetes affects approximately 4% of all pregnant women in the US on an annual basis. Gestational diabetes is most often treatable through diet, lifestyle, nutrients, herbs or medications as warranted. Weight loss, diet and regular physical activity may prevent future development of type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. It develops when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the cells in the body ignore the circulating insulin. Most people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes will have pre-diabetes. It usually appears later in life. However, more and more children are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The epidemic of obesity and lack of physical exercise in our children, along with exposure to gestational diabetes, may be major contributors to the increase in type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents. Often, type 2 diabetes develops slowly and most people may not even know they have diabetes until their symptoms become more severe. Diabetes is a serious and expensive illness. It is often associated with heart disease risk factors such as elevated LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. If left untreated, it can cause serious health consequences to the heart, kidneys, eyes, nervous system. The risk of stroke and heart disease is two to four times higher in people with diabetes, according to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse.
 

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