07 Jun 2011

Sample essay: Diabetes

Diabetes, often referred to as a lifestyle disease, is very common nowadays. We know people who have this kind of disease or at least one or two in the family has this. In the United States, it is estimated that almost 24 million of the general population is affected by diabetes in lifelong terms. In 2007 alone, roughly 1.6 million of people at the age of twenty above are diagnosed with this condition. Not to mention, there are still a lot of people who have not still received prompt diagnosis and medical attention yet display the signs of symptoms of the dreaded disease (National Diabetes Information Editors, 2011). The sections hereafter will discuss on the main basic points one must understand about diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association (2010) pointed out that diabetes affects chiefly the metabolic functioning of the body. The way the body utilizes digested for energy and growth is affected. The food that people eat is usually broken down into glucose. This glucose forms as kind of sugar present in the blood and this is the main source of fuel or energy for the body. Problems arise when such glucose or blood sugar becomes abnormally high. In the normal body process, digestion allows the glucose to be used up by the tissues and cells of the body for energy, growth and repair. Cells in the body contain a membrane or covering that does not automatically allow substances like glucose to get inside it. In order for glucose to get inside the cells, a hormone called insulin must be available. This insulin is normally produced by a large gland behind the stomach called pancreas.

During eating, the pancreas is signaled by the brain to produce the adequate amount of insulin so that the blood sugar in the bloodstream can be taken up by the cells. However, in diabetes, the pancreas is unable to produce sufficient amount of insulin. At most instances, it produces very small or no amount of insulin at all. Another problem is that the cells of the body cannot respond the properly to the insulin that is produced. This is called insulin resistance. It means that an abnormality is happening as the “doors” that allow entry of glucose in the cells cannot be opened. The pancreas will not cease in producing insulin because the cells have very little amount of sugar inside it. But still, resistance will not allow the access of glucose in the cells. As a result of these, the glucose builds up in the bloodstream and becomes a by-product as it is excreted with urine (Emedicine Editors, 2010). So, although the body contains large amount of sugar in the blood, it is not able to convert this into the desired component to fuel the cells. Sometimes, the increased amount of insulin can eventually lead the entry of blood sugar into the cells. However, the pancreas would be exhausted and would be unable to compensate with the body’s increasing insulin needs. Consequently, the excessive glucose in the bloodstream due to the failure in cellular entry will start to build up in tissues around the kidneys, heart, eyes and nerve endings. Such build-up explains the short-term and long-term complications of diabetes.

How does one determine if he or she has diabetes? In the early stage of the disease, only few symptoms may appear so one will not know right away if he or she is already suffering from the condition. The rapid and serious effect of diabetes is seen on its complications on the eyes, kidneys and cardiovascular system. If you experience frequent urination, extreme thirst and/or hunger, sores, bruises and wounds that heal slowly, dry and itchy skin, unapparent weight loss, blurry vision, abnormal fatigue or drowsiness, tingling or lack of sensation in the hands or feet, recurrent skin, gum, bladder or vaginal yeast infections, you may be at the brink of having the disease(Mayfield, 1998).

Diabetes affects people of all ages and races. But there are various groups in terms of gender, age and ethnicities who are at a greater risk of developing the disease. The occurrence is much higher in men but the serious effects of this disease are more prevalent among women. Women with diabetes tend to have lower survival rates and poorer quality of life compared to men who have the disease. Complications of the disease, such as blindness, are also more seen in women. Pregnant women may also acquire the condition during pregnancy. This is termed as gestational diabetes. Certain racial groups are also highly affected by diabetes. African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islander Americans are at higher risk for diabetes especially the type 2 form of the disease. The explanation to this, according to many researchers, is that the ancestors of these ethnic groups had developed a certain kind of gene ought to be “thrifty” in nature. This means that this gene allowed them to store foods in preparation for famines where foods were scarce. Over time, when the scarcity of food became uncommon for these groups in America, the genes that were once of use were no longer working the same way it did for their ancestors. Meanwhile people with certain lifestyles are at risk of the disease. People, who have unbalanced diet like high cholesterol and low fiber meals, above 45 years old, overweight, and who have sedentary lifestyles are included. A family history of diabetes can impose the development of the disease because the inherited genes are more susceptible to diabetes (CDC editors, 2010).

Moreover, the cause of diabetes can be attributed to the abnormal function and cell’s resistance at a metabolic level, as described earlier. In Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune reaction, or when the body destroys and attacks its own cells, happens. The exact cause of such reaction is unknown but it can be attributed to triggers that include:  infection with a particular virus or bacteria, exposure to chemical toxins from foods and exposure to cow’s milk during infancy. Such assumptions are still unproven though. Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is caused by variations in insulin production and glucose transport to the cell. It can be due to unbalanced diet, obesity, physical inactivity, some medicines, pregnancy and other conditions in the body which can affect production of insulin such as pancreatitis. Stress and high blood pressure also have direct relationship to the occurrence of diabetes.

Treating diabetes, in type 1 and type 2 cases, varies in each individual who has the disease. The goal of treatment is centered in keeping the levels of blood sugar in the blood as normal as possible. It would entail self-management, medical intervention and more importantly modification in lifestyle. Insulin injections are the most common treatment for diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, it would also include exercises, balanced diet along with insulin doses. Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand covers weight reduction, complying with diabetic diet and medications to maintain the normal level of glucose in the blood. Weight reduction and exercise can be helpful to the whole treatment process because it increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Thereby, cells can permit the entry of glucose in order to lower sugar levels in the blood. Oral medications are given as maintenance treatments, in case lifestyle modification is not enough. Furthermore, there is no acknowledged absolute cure for diabetes. At the moment, continued scientific and clinical researches are made in the hope curing diabetes (McCulley, 2008). The transplantation of islets, which are cells that carry insulin in the body, is one example of the current subjects that is still under investigation. Thus, the management of diabetes, at the moment, is still on the preventive and treatment levels.

People who already have diabetes are advised to modify their lifestyles. If the condition is associated with obesity, weight reduction is called for. It can be in the form of doing exercises but it does not necessitate heavy workouts. Moderate activities like walking for 30 minutes could help a lot in this sense. Activities of daily living which are advantageous include taking the stairs instead of elevators and walking to work if possible.  Aside from that, living with diabetes also means being conscious of the foods that one takes in. One should avoid foods that are high in salt and cholesterol as well as carbohydrates. A healthy diabetic diet includes fruits such as apples, oranges and peaches. Vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, beans and peas, and green leafy vegetables also top the list. Fiber rich foods to also include grains would be a great diet alternative because fiber delays sugar absorption or build up, so as to lower down glucose levels.

In the end, the way to get diabetes in clear perspectives from its cause down to its management entails awareness. Timely medical consultation is also of major help. Keeping blood sugar levels as normal as possible is the central factor in having healthy and longer life in spite of having diabetes.

References

Book

McCulley, DeWayne. (2008) Death to Diabetes: The 6 stages of Type 2 Diabetes Control and Reversal. Webster New York. De Wayne Publishing.

Electronics

National Diabetes Information Editors. (2011). Diabetes. Retrieved March 28, 2011, fromhttp://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/overview/index.htm#more

Mayfield, Jennifer. (1998). How do I know if I have Diabetes.? Retrieved March 28, 2011 http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/diabetes/basics/327.html

Medline Plus. (2010). Diabetes. Retrieved March 28, 2011,from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/diabetes.html

American Diabetes Association. (2010).Diabetes. Retrieved March 28, 2011,from <http://spectrum.diabetesjournals.org/>

Emedicine Editors. (2010). Diabetes Mellitus. Retrieved March 28, 2011,from <http://emedicine.medscape.com/>

CDC editors. (2010). Learn Your Risk for Diabetes and Take Steps to Protect Your Health. Retrieved March 28, 2011,from http://www.cdc.gov/Features/DiabetesAlert/

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