The dangers of diabetes and how to prevent it

Lana Felice-Vistan, Staff Writer

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Every year, over 425 million people around the world suffer from diabetes. People of all ages can be diagnosed with diabetes, but it is more common in people aged 60 or older. No matter what type of diabetes it is,  it’s crucial to have knowledge about the disease to save an individual’s life. The more people who are aware of its dangers and effects, the more people’s lives will be spared from this disease.

Diabetes is a life-threatening disease that can affect anyone. There is technically no cure for diabetes. Scientists are still studying its effects in an attempt to find a possible cure for the disease. In the meantime, it can be prevented and controlled. There are remedies and treatments that can definitely make a difference. Most diabetics can safely manage their conditions by regularly monitoring blood sugar levels and taking insulin as needed.

There are two types of diabetes.  In Type 1, which is often called juvenile-onset diabetes, the body’s immune system, instead of fighting off harmful viruses and bacteria, mistakes the body’s own healthy cells for foreign invaders and attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. This makes the body unable to produce insulin.

Kids Health explains that insulin “helps glucose enter the body’s cells, where it can be used for energy or stored for future use.”  This means that for a person with diabetes, that glucose cannot be accessed and used.  This can result in either too much glucose or not enough. Each carries a different set of symptoms.

According Health Line, researchers don’t know the cause of Type 1 diabetes. “It may have something to do with genetic and environmental factors, like exposure to viruses.”

Type 2 diabetes is more common. People with type 2 diabetes have insulin resistance. According to Health Line, “The body still produces insulin, but it’s unable to use it effectively.”  Type 2 diabetes, unlike Type 1, has a clearer set of causes.  Research shows that lifestyle factors may contribute–specifically excess weight and inactivity.

Maintaining a healthy body by eating a balanced diet instead of foods that are high in cholesterol and fat is the best way to reduce one’s risks.  Individuals can maintain a healthy weight  by eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Exercising regularly and good sleeping habits are also important for a healthy body, as are drinking lots of water and keeping stress levels at low.

Having diabetes can increase  a person’s blood pressure and sugar.  It can also lead to high cholesterol, strokes, heart disease, kidney damage, and nerve damage.

Although diabetes is fatal, death can be avoided if treatment occurs quickly upon noticing symptoms. Symptoms include slow healing bruises or cuts, blurry vision, extreme fatigue.  It also sometimes lead to skin changes on the neck, armpit, and groin, called acanthosis nigricans, in which the skin becomes darker and velvety in texture.  Other signs would include frequent yeast infections and high blood pressure.

Environmental factors like viruses and bacteria can trigger diabetes. Some types of diabetes can be passed down from mothers and fathers to children as they inherit it from their genes.

A common misconception about diabetes is that sugar is the main cause of diabetes.  Although sugar can play a role in the development of diabetes, it is not the only factor that will cause the disease. In a healthy body, when high levels of sugar are in the blood, insulin produced by the pancreas will lower the body’s blood glucose.  Consuming too much sugar or food can cause weight gain, increasing the chances of getting diabetes. But whether a person is underweight or overweight, there is still a chance that a person can get diabetes.

In short, while some cases of diabetes, especially Type 1 diabetes, cannot be prevented, most Type 2 diabetes can.  According to the Harvard School of Public Health, “about 9 cases in 10 could be avoided by taking several simple steps: keeping weight under control, exercising more, eating a healthy diet, and not smoking.”