Of the 23 million people who have been reported to have diabetes in the U.S., 21 million have Type 2 diabetes. Why is this number so high and why should you be concerned about this statistic?
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Your pancreas makes insulin which is a hormone that allows for glucose (sugar) absorption into your cells. Your cells then turn the glucose into energy. The problem with Type 2 Diabetes is that while the body still makes insulin, the body doesn’t use it as well as it should. The pancreas tries to make more insulin but the cells don’t respond to it and sugar levels are increased in the blood instead. High blood sugar is bad because the pancreas tries too hard to make insulin which can damage your pancreas over time. Secondly, high blood sugar can lead to a hardening of the blood vessels. This can cause kidney disease or kidney failure, strokes, heart attacks, nerve damage, and more.
How Do People Get Type 2 Diabetes?
There are many different factors that can contribute to Type 2 Diabetes. Here are a few examples:
- Genetics and your DNA may affect how insulin is absorbed into your body.
- Those 45 and older are at a higher risk for having diabetes.
- Certain ethnicities such as African-Americans, Alaska Natives, Native Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, or Pacific Islander-Americans have been known to have diabetes at higher rates.
- Obesity is suspected to cause insulin resistance because it may overstress the membrane inside the cell causing the insulin receptors to shut down.
- After you eat, the liver makes glucose. When your sugar levels go up, your liver should store excess glucose for later. If the liver keeps making and sending out glucose, then you may develop diabetes.
- Your cells may not communicate correctly with one another or may send out the wrong amount of insulin at the wrong time causing sugar levels to be off.
Why Are So Many People Diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes?
It is estimated that one-third – or roughly 84 million Americans – have prediabetes and don’t even know it. The two main contributing factors are also the solution for this condition: diet and exercise. It’s no surprise that many Americans make poor decisions concerning their diet and neglect a consistent exercise routine. This has led to diabetes being the 7th leading cause of death in the United States and approximately 253,000 death certificates list diabetes as an underlying or contributing cause of death each year.
While diet and exercise are the main ways that you can avoid diabetes, going to the doctor can also keep you healthy. If you are a diabetic or prediabetic, your doctor can observe your glucose levels to see what options you have towards living a long, healthy life. This may include a prescription medication or conducting glucose tests at home. After all, the sooner you know you have diabetes, the better you can manage it to avoid serious complications.