The Fight Against the Silent Killer
November is Diabetes Awareness Month and no better time to be reminded of the condition known as “the silent killer”. Diabetes is a chronic disease marked by high levels of sugar in the blood. It is caused by too little insulin, resistance to insulin, or both.
There are three major types of diabetes:
-Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in childhood. Many patients are diagnosed when they are older than age 20. In this disease, the body makes little or no insulin. Daily injections of insulin are needed. The exact cause is unknown. Genetics, viruses, and autoimmune problems may play a role.
-Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1. It makes up most of diabetes cases. It usually occurs in adulthood, but young people are increasingly being diagnosed with this disease. The pancreas does not make enough insulin to keep blood glucose levels normal, often because the body does not respond well to insulin. Many people with type 2 diabetes do not know they have it, although it is a serious condition. Type 2 diabetes is becoming more common due to increasing obesity and failure to exercise.
-Gestational diabetes is high blood glucose that develops at any time during pregnancy in a woman who does not have diabetes. Diabetes affects more than 20 million Americans. Over 40 million Americans have prediabetes.
There are many risk factors for type 2 diabetes, including:
- Age over 45 years
- A parent, brother, or sister with diabetes
- Gestational diabetes or delivering a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
- Heart disease
- High blood cholesterol level
- Not getting enough exercise
- Polycystic ovary disease (in women)
- Previous impaired glucose tolerance
- Some ethnic groups (particularly African Americans, Native Americans, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Hispanic Americans)
*For more information, see: