While most know of the chronic disease called diabetes, but we don’t really understand what it means. Diabetes is an ailment that is caused by abnormal levels of blood sugar in your body. A naturally produced chemical called insulin helps convert blood sugar into energy that can be used for daily functioning. However, the immune system of diabetics mistakes insulin-producing cells for disease-carrying viruses, and thus starts destroying them. Contracting diabetes significantly increases your risk of heart diseases, and strokes. It can also lead to complications related to eyes, kidneys, and the nervous system in general.
There are two distinct forms of this disease: type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The former, though much rarer, is the more serious of the two, wherein the body doesn’t produce any insulin at all. Conversely, type 2 diabetics (T2D) do produce insulin, but their bodies are unable to utilize it. These individuals have developed a resistance for the substance, albeit the production of insulin is fairly low.
Several reports have shown that the strongest indicator of likelihood that someone will suffer from type 2 diabetes is whether members of their family have suffered from it in the past. A study done by Robert Wagner involving over 8,000 patients concluded that on average, the risk of you contracting pre-diabetes if your family members have been diabetic increases by 26%. Pre-diabetes, as opposed to diabetes, is a condition that lies somewhere in the middle between being diabetic and having healthy blood sugar levels. 20% of all patients that are pre-diabetic go on to develop full-blown diabetes.
Should You Be Worried If Your Parents Have Diabetes?
To put it simply, if your family members have diabetes, your risk of contracting pre diabetes increases by 26%. If you do end up suffering from pre-diabetes, there is a one-in-five chance that you will also develop type 2 diabetes. Though this might not sound like a lot, family history remains the most reliable indicator of diabetes related issues. Study after study has shown that other factors, such as genetic or lifestyle-related reasons only explained a small percentage of diabetes cases. This is to say that if A is obese and B appears healthy, but has a family history of diabetes, B can be said to be at much greater risk of diabetes than A.
Symptoms for diabetes can start showing fairly early in one’s life. By the age of 21, you will likely have suffered some form of ailment if you’re at risk. Early warning signs include extreme thirst, cuts that heal too slowly, excessive fatigue, increased appetite, blurry vision, and others. Consult your doctor immediately if you find yourself suffering from these on a regular basis. There are some symptoms exclusive to type I diabetes like sudden weight loss, and flu like symptoms such as vomiting or nausea.
Diabetes, though deadly, is a common disease that afflicts a significant part of the population. With appropriate care, complications can usually be tamed to minimize suffering.
Disclaimer: This article is exclusively produced for The Times of India Healthy India, Fit India initiative by our partner, Healthians to spread awareness on the importance of preventive health care.