Diabetes has become an epidemic over the past 40 years in the United States and all over the world. Diagnoses are increasing at an alarming rate with about 8% of the population having diabetes in one form or another. As some of us know, this month, November, is Diabetes Awareness Month and we, at YouthLINE, want to raise this “awareness” and tell our readers about this widespread epidemic that is continuously growing.
This disease can come in two forms, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, meaning it’s an attack on body’s immune system by the body itself. The person, who has this chronic disease, suffers attacks on their pancreas, destroying most of the insulin-producing cells from the pancreas. This is done unintentionally and the body has little to no insulin left to break down sugar molecules in the body. This often happens to children and adolescents, but it can develop at any age. As a result of having diabetes, sugar levels must be monitored at all times to reduce the chance that the body can absorb the broken down glucose. Without glucose, the body can’t get these nutrients to places like the eyes, kidney, and heart, resulting in blindness, kidney failure, and heart attacks and strokes, respectively. To solve this, people must take insulin shots to get the insulin they need to break down the sugars in their body. The problem with this is deciding how much insulin to use as it's based on the amount of food and exercise one gets. If one takes too little insulin, a condition called hyperglycemia, they have an increased chance of getting the illnesses above like strokes. If one takes too much insulin, called hypoglycemia, they have too little blood sugar to process and can be fatal from low-blood sugar.