Article

September 23, 2018

How Does Diabetes Really Develop?

How Diabetes Develops

Diabetes is a growing health concern around the world, affecting hundreds of millions of people globally. How much do you know about this disease? How does diabetes develop?

Diabetes

Around 3.7 million Filipinos and 422 million people around the world are suffering from diabetes. Of this number, many cases remain undiagnosed and many more are undocumented, partly because of poor access to health care and lack of knowledge about diabetes.

To help raise people’s awareness about diabetes and help patients prevent it or manage it better, it helps to stay informed about diabetes. Continue reading this article to understand how diabetes develops and how you can manage it.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes occurs when the blood sugar level is too high1, increasing beyond the normal range. This happens when the body’s ability to produce or respond to insulin is impaired, which leads to abnormal regulation and distribution of carbohydrates and higher-than-normal blood sugar levels.

What is insulin?

Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas. Put simply, its main function is to allow glucose from food to enter cells all over the body2, including the muscles, liver, and fat. Glucose in the blood is then transformed to energy that can be used by the body.

What is insulin’s role in diabetes?

Insulin prevents sudden spikes in the blood sugar level by regulating glucose’s entrance to cells in different parts of the body. However, our body may not produce enough insulin at times. And at others, it may not use insulin as efficiently compared with perfectly healthy individuals. When either of these happens, glucose from the food we eat stays in the blood and doesn’t reach the body’s cells. This raises the blood sugar level, triggering a series of problems if left unmanaged for a long time.

What are the different types of diabetes?

There are two types of diabetes3, with two different causes. Type 1 diabetes is more common in children. It happens when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or none at all. Patients with Type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day to maintain a normal blood sugar level.

On the other hand, Type 2 diabetes makes up around 90% to 95% of all diabetes cases globally4. Here, the body develops resistance to the mechanisms of insulin and therefore fails to transport glucose from the blood to the body’s cells, resulting in high blood sugar levels.

Who’s at risk for diabetes?

People over 45 years or older are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes5. Those who have family history of diabetes are also at risk, as well as those who are overweight, don’t get enough physical activity, and are prone to high blood pressure.

How is diabetes managed?

The sad news is, diabetes has no cure6. Once it develops, it requires lifetime management. It’s even linked to serious complications such as kidney failure, vision problems and blindness, nerve damage, heart disease, and stroke.

As part of diabetes management7, patients need to observe their blood sugar levels closely and strictly follow their doctors’ diet, lifestyle, and medication advice.

However, even if there diabetes has no direct cure, this doesn’t mean that you should be too worried about the disease. Diabetes is highly manageable, and in many cases, those who have it still live their normal daily lives and routine.

***

With proper exercise, a healthy diet, regular medication, and help from your physician, patients can manage this disease and minimize its dangers. It also helps to keep yourself informed about how diabetes develops and progresses so that you and your physician can talk about a diabetes treatment plan that works for your lifestyle and overall health condition.


1. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes
2. https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/type-1-diabetes/what-insulin
3. https://www.hormone.org/diseases-and-conditions/diabetes/types-of-diabetes
4. http://tour.diabetes.org/site/PageServer/?pagename=TC_aboutdiabetes
5. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/risk-factors-type-2-diabetes
6. https://www.diabetes.org.uk/diabetes-the-basics/is-there-a-cure
7. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/in-depth/diabetes-management/art-20047963

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