cause of death in my family, which is Type 2 diabetes, which can come from several causes, but in my family, it is mainly due to obesity. Type 2 diabetes is the type of diabetes that can start in adulthood due to issues such as obesity. It is non-insulin-dependent, but it can be just as deadly as Type 1 Diabetes, which is insulin-dependent and often diagnosed in youth. It runs in my family due to obesity issues, so I am very interested in learning more about the disease and how to prevent it from occurring.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. One author notes, “Type 2 diabetes (formerly called adult-onset diabetes or non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus) is the most common type of diabetes” (Masharani 8). This disease in not about the body not producing insulin, like type 1 diabetes. A group of authors state, “In type 2 diabetes, individuals generally do not need insulin injections, because they can produce insulin but the body fails to use it efficiently” (Leung, Kamla, Lee, and Mak). Members of my family have been diagnosed with the disease, and nearly all of the members of my family are at risk of developing it in later life, because most of my family is obese, and that is one of the conditions that can trigger the disease. It can be managed by eating right and losing weight, but it has been difficult to eradicate in my family. Lack of exercise can also lead to type 2 diabetes, and that is often the reason family members and others are overweight. It is also difficult for many members of my family because they enjoy sweets and find it hard to limit them. We have tried using sugar substitutes and cutting out some starchy carbohydrates, but my family enjoys food and cooking, and so most of them find it hard to manage their weight and their diabetes.
Some members of my family are not as educated as they should be about the disease, so they eat foods they think are “good” for them, but actually they are not so good for them. One example is my father, who eats cereal with fruit in the morning, even though the fruit is dried and full of sugar. We have tried to get him to eat more healthy types of cereal without sugar, but he does not enjoy them, so he will not eat them. Some of the eating habits in my family need to be addressed, so they can better manage their diabetes and become healthier.
Diabetes is diagnosed when the blood glucose reaches a level of 200 mg/dl or more. When doctors do a blood test, they routinely look for diabetes. It shows the body has a resistance to insulin. Author Masharani continues, “In type 2 diabetes, there is both beta cell deficiency and insulin resistance. Being overweight or obese increases the risk for type 2 diabetes” (Masharani 11). Experts think there are at least 17 million people in the United States with type 2 diabetes, and that number is growing because of the rising obesity levels in this country. Obesity is the leading cause of type 2 diabetes, and it is a growing health concern in the country because so many people have it. The country needs to do a better job of educating people about type 2 diabetes and how to control it. This would help keep health care costs down in this country and around the world. Another writer notes, “The magnitude of the impact of T2D on individual health and societal health care resources is enormous. The annual direct and indirect cost of diabetes care is about $150,000,1300,000” (Draznin). This is an enormous amount, and it will only continue to rise as more people come down with the disease.
There are other factors that can lead to type 2 diabetes, as well. Ethnic minorities, especially Asian-Americans, African-Americans, and Hispanics are all more at risk for the disease, and genes can be a factor in getting the disease, as well, which is why it can run in families, which it does in ours. In addition, it is showing up in children at a rapidly growing rate. A group of authors note, “In the United States, an increase from fewer than four percent to more than 50% of new cases of type 2 diabetes in the pediatric population was reported between the years of 1982 and 1998” (Leung, Kamla, Lee, and Mak). This means that children in our family could come down with the disease earlier in life, and they would have to manage their disease throughout their lives.
After diagnosis, without treatment, the disease can progress. One of the problems with the disease is that people often do not know they have the disease, and so it progresses before they gain treatment. Therefore, it is important to know the symptoms of diabetes. They can include fatigue and weakness, dehydration (often due to increased urination), increased thirst, weight loss, blurred vision, and confusion. There can also be some severe, long-term complications from type 2 diabetes. It can lead to heart problems, eye problems, such as diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and glaucoma. There are often circulation problems that can lead to drastic measures like amputation, and it can severely damage the kidneys. Diabetes can also affect the nerves, most often beginning in the feet and working up the legs. In severe cases, the nerve damage makes the person feel no pain in their feet and legs, which can lead to permanent damage and nerve damage can occur in other areas of the body, as well. Diabetes is so dangerous because it can do damage to many organs, and yet people are not aware they have it. That is why it is so imperative to be tested regularly, to ensure you have not developed the disease.
Luckily, there are many treatment options for type 2 diabetes. The first thing doctors recommend is for patients to lose weight and get more exercise. Author Masharani continues, “Results from this study indicated that intervention with a low-fat diet and 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week (equivalent to a brisk thirty-minute walk five times a week) reduces the risk of progression to type 2 diabetes by 58% when compared to a matched control group” (Masharani 21). Most people who lose weight and begin exercising can effectively manage their glucose levels and control the disease. Often, those on diabetes medications can go off them if they lose enough weight to manage their glucose levels.
However, sometimes it is difficult for sufferers to manage their glucose levels effectively. In this case, there are many different drugs that can help treat the disease or some of the complications from the disease. Doctors may prescribe antidepressants, which seem to help treat swelling and nerve damage related to the disease, or they may prescribe cholesterol-lowering drugs to help deal with heart and circulatory problems. If you have kidney problems due to diabetes, you may have to take high-blood pressure medication or a diuretic to help the kidneys function correctly. If a person develops specific complications, such as nerve damage, heart disease, or other side effects of diabetes, there are specific treatments that can be used to help treat these side effects, as well. In most cases, many of these treatments are unnecessary if the patient loses weight, exercises, and eats balanced, well-planned meals.
In conclusion, type 2 diabetes might not seem like a big deal to some people, but research shows that it can be quite debilitating. If not treated and managed, it can lead to major complications and even death. My family needs to take control of their diabetes by losing weight, eating a better diet, and exercising. If they do this, they can increase the quality and length of their lives. This has made me think about my own tendency to develop the disease, and how I want to make sure I do not develop it now, or in the future. I think the disease can be managed effectively, and I want to take the steps now so I don’t have to worry about this issue in the future. I hope I can convince my family to do the same thing.
Draznin, Boris. “T2D: The Longest Mile Type 2 Diabetes.” USA Today (Society for the Advancement of Education) Sept. 2007: 74+.
Leung, Raymond W., Jim Kamla, Man-Cheong Lee, and Jennifer Y. Mak. “Preventing and Treating Type 2 Diabetes through a Physically Active Lifestyle.” JOPERD — The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance 78.4 (2007): 38+.
Masharani, Umesh. Diabetes Demystified. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008.
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