7 facts about diabetes that are little known to everyone
Diabetes became so common in the modern society – it may seem people know almost everything about it, even if they don’t have it. However, there are still some peculiar facts about this disease that may amaze you. Here are some of them.
Diabetes has many awful symptoms that we all know, but perhaps one of the most morbid among them is the damage to the blood vessels and capillaries of the eyes that can impair your vision to the complete blindness. In less severe cases patients suffer from blurry vision, and as the grade of damage grows it can worsen conditions like glaucoma and cataracts. The most common issue is diabetic retinopathy, where the blood vessels linked to the retina become swollen and blocked. With the progression of this condition, the vessels wear thin to the point where they start leaking. That will produce floating spots in your sight and in worst cases block your vision.
2. There are more than 2 types of diabetes
Despite the common knowledge there are at least 3 types of diabetes (perhaps even more yet to be classified). Type I is common for the young children and doesn’t depend on their lifestyle – therefore it’s the most insidious one. Type II is usually the result of bad health choices, such as overeating, inactive lifestyle, long stress exposure. Type III is gestational diabetes that pregnant women can develop, and it can do damage to both mother and child. In most cases it disappears after birth.
The new interesting discovery that was made by the scientists in recent years is the fact that Alzheimer’s disease may actually be some type of diabetes. They speculate in the facts that brain (with the rest of the body) becomes resistant to insulin, and develops the protein plaques that essentially destroy mental activity. While the link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s has not been fully understood, it is recognized that those with diabetes have at least double the chances of developing dementia later in life.
3. New ways of treatment
There have been improvements in the treatment of both kinds of diabetes: type 1 patients can use modern insulin pumps, and many drugs to lower insulin resistance are developed and tested all the time – we’re talking about a huge market. In type 1 patients, an experimental treatment with donor beta cells was developed, but the immunosuppressants have much severe side effects than modern insulin regimes.
With diabetes comes the long list of harsh complications. Probably the worst of them called diabetic neuropathy. It is a condition when blood vessels that supply nerves are being damaged. The symptoms that accompany neuropathy are numbness, pain, tingling sensation in limbs, especially in the feet. Often, diabetics also suffer from peripheral arterial diseases, which restricts blood-flow to the feet.
After that it only gets worse – the skin becomes dry and sensitive, and is more likely to develop ulcers. The lack of blood circulation makes infection difficult to fight off, and even with prompt medical treatment, amputation is often necessary.
5. Diabetic coma
In the most severe cases of diabetes patients must check their blood sugar levels on the regular basis. In case of hyperglycemia (when the level is extremely high) or hypoglycemia (too low), they are under the risk of falling into diabetic coma. The good thing is that the prominent symptoms, like fever, strong thirst and headache can warn the person about the approaching threat long before, and they have enough time to seek help before losing their consciousness.
Prior to the 70s, when blood glucose meters were invented, this tended to happen quite frequently. Diabetic comas are particularly dangerous to people living alone who may go undiscovered. If left untreated, it can cause permanent brain damage, even death. Tragically enough, diabetic patients driving vehicles can also be responsible for more than their fair share of car accidents, as drops in glucose can bring on sudden disorientation and vision problems.
6. Diabetes is not the perquisite of developed countries only
Diabetes is considered to be “a disease of developed countries”, but that’s not entirely true. Many emerging countries have very high incident rates, for example India, China, Mexico and Brazil. In recent years, some population groups in these countries enjoyed a rapid rise in wealth, resulting in the increased consumption of industrially processed food, and they exercise less. Unfortunately, health education didn’t rise in step with incomes.
7. Type II is the most common one
More than 90% of all diabetes patients have type II. They don’t necessarily have the typical symptoms like extreme thirst or frequent urination. According to estimates, one third of all afflicted people don’t even know they have diabetes. They only learn about their condition when irreparable damage to their retina, their kidneys, their heart or their nerve endings occurs; the latter can even result in foot amputation.