Diabetes Demands a Triad of Treatments
Two Types of Diabetes continued...
When they occur, Type II symptoms usually
include frequent urination, excessive thirst, fatigue, an increase in
infections, blurred vision, tingling in hands or feet, impotence in men, and
absence of menstrual periods in women.
Type II diabetes usually develops in people
over 40, and it often runs in families. For instance, Pattie LaBelle was
diagnosed with Type II diabetes at age 50, and her mother died of the
Type II diabetes is often linked to obesity
and inactivity and can often be controlled with diet and exercise alone. Type
II diabetics sometimes use insulin, but usually oral medications are prescribed
if diet and exercise alone do not control the disease.
Malfunction in Glucose Metabolism
In a normal body, carbohydrates (sugars and
starches) are broken down in the intestines to simple sugars (mostly glucose),
which then circulate in the blood, entering cells, where they are used to
produce energy. Diabetics respond inappropriately to carbohydrate metabolism,
and glucose can't enter the cells normally.
Insulin -- a hormone that is made in the
pancreas and released into the bloodstream and carried throughout the body --
enables the organs to take sugar from the blood and use it for energy. If body
cells become resistant to insulin's effect or if there isn't enough insulin,
sugar stays in the blood and accumulates, causing high blood sugar. At the same
time, cells starve because there's no insulin to help move sugar into the
Diabetes is diagnosed by measuring blood
sugar levels. This can begin with a urine test sampled for glucose because
excess sugar in the blood spills over into the urine. Further testing involves
taking blood samples after an overnight fast. Normal fasting blood glucose
levels are between 70 mg/dl and 105 mg/dl; a fasting blood glucose measurement
greater than 140 mg/dl on two separate occasions indicates diabetes.
Diabetes can result in many complications,
including nerve damage, foot and leg ulcers, and eye problems that can lead to
blindness. Diabetics also are at greater risk for heart disease, stroke,
narrowing of the arteries, and kidney failure. But evidence shows that the
better the patient controls his or her blood sugar levels, the greater the
chances that the disease's serious complications can be reduced.