Type 2 diabetes is now at epidemic proportions. Some people will take issues with this statement, as most will think of SARS, HIV (AIDS) or the various types of flu. About one third of all people who have type 2 diabetes don’t even know it!
While type 1 diabetes represents about 5-7% of all cases, type 2 makes up most of the remaining cases. Several other forms and terms to be familiar with are gestational diabetes, pre-diabetes, Syndrome-X, adult onset and juvenile diabetes.
Part of our motivation for writing this website is to inform people about the epidemic. We have a problem on our hands and most people who will suffer from it, don’t even know it! Let’s look at some facts about diabetes:
-Experts believe that 1 in 3 children born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes!
-The US spends well over $130 billion a year directly on treating diabetes
-Some doctors estimate that over half a billion people globally could have diabetes within 20 years
-Those diagnosed in the US with diabetes was ~5% in 1990 and by 2001 it was almost 8%
-Diabetes is the 5th leading cause of death and is a major factor in other disease complications
-If not properly treated, type 2 diabetes can lead to complications like blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, and nerve damage
Unlike Type 1 diabetes, people with type 2 can still produce their own insulin. The problem is that the insulin does not function in the right way.
Let’s consider an analogy of a person trying to get into and out of a building. In this example, insulin is the key, the cell is the building, glucose is the person and GLUTS is the door. The insulin sends a signal to the GLUTS to open up and let glucose into the cell. However, in the case of type 2 diabetes the body develops insulin resistance to a point where the blood sugar levels remain higher than normal. The insulin simply does not work.
In addition to the typical symptoms of diabetes, there are some key tests that your doctor can run for you. They are simple tests and you usually get the results within one week. If you have several of the known risk factors of diabetes, you should make sure your doctor tests you for diabetes. The most common test that will confirm that you have type 2 diabetes is the FPG.
FPG (Fasting Plasma Glucose Test) will determine your blood glucose level after fasting. The normal level should be between 70-100 mg/dL (milligrams per decaliter). If you have 2 tests that show your blood glucose level above 126 mg/dL, then the doctor will diagnose you with diabetes. Recently, experts believe that those caught in the middle, between 100 and 126 mg/dL should be monitored and take steps to reduce their chances of getting type 2 diabetes.
There are many cases where people have eliminated the effects of this disease; however, you never totally get rid of it – instead you manage it by making wise lifestyle choices.
A major study by the National Institutes of Health showed that the disease can be prevented or delayed. The study involved overweight adults with pre-diabetes. This means that they already had elevated blood sugar levels, but did not tip over the official target to be diagnosed with diabetes. The participants were able to reduce their risk of developing diabetes by 71% by losing 5-7% of their body weight, participating in physical activity 5 times a week for 30 minutes and choosing healthier foods.
The bottom line is this – you cannot control some things like your family history or your ethnic group, but you can choose to manage your weight, exercise and eat right – these are your lifestyle choices.
If you knew today that in ten years you would lose your sight and have massive heart attack, would you change your lifestyle today to avoid that situation? Diabetes is a silent stalker that sneaks up on you. IF you have any reason to believe you MIGHT have diabetes, please see a doctor today and make changes to your lifestyle.