Diabetes in Seniors
As you grow older, your body starts showing signs of wear and tear as a result of stress and negligence over the years. These problems manifest in the form of several ailments including Heart diseases, Arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, Osteoporosis, Cancer, and Diabetes. However, research claims that its possible to live longer by simply knowing about these problems and taking the right measures to ward them off. In this article, we’ll address the health monster that is Diabetes.
Despite its ubiquitous nature, Diabetes should not be taken lightly. A study conducted by the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that 25% of the senior citizens are plagued with Diabetes. Another report suggested that Diabetes takes more lives than deaths caused by AIDS and Breast Cancer combined.
What is Diabetes?
Commonly referred to as “blood sugar”, Diabetes mellitus transpires when there’s excess glucose in the blood. Over 25 million people suffer from this disease in the U.S. alone.
When you eat, your body turns food into glucose. In order for this conversion to happen, your body needs to produce sufficient amounts of insulin. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas is incapable of making enough insulin or your body’s cells are immune to the effects of insulin, leading to a failure in regulating sugar levels in the blood. Unfortunately, it does not have any permanent cure as of now but you can easily keep it in check and lead a normal life.
What is Pre-Diabetes?
Sometimes, the glucose levels are above the normal measure but it doesn’t qualify as Diabetes if the measure is slightly lower than the 130 mg/dL mark. This is called Pre-Diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance. Although pre-diabetes is free of symptoms, it does put a patient at a higher risk for other problems such as heart diseases and of course, type 2 diabetes.
Types of Diabetes
There are chiefly three types of Diabetes – Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational Diabetes, classified based on the cause. Let’s take a quick look at all the types:
- Type 1 – Beta cells in our pancreas are responsible for producing insulin. However, when these cells are destroyed by the body’s immune system, the pancreas stop producing insulin, resulting in an energy deficit, ultimately causing diabetes. This type of diabetes is most common in young adults and can be controlled by taking regular insulin injections.
- Type 2 – In this case, the pancreas is still capable of making insulin but the body develops a resistance to its effects. Furthermore, it can also occur when the insulin produced isn’t adequate enough to convert carbohydrates into energy. Type 2 diabetes affects older people. Howbeit, the most commonly associated health problem of Type 2 diabetes is obesity which can occur even in younger people. Health experts typically prescribe medication and advice patients to exercise regularly.
- Gestational Diabetes – As the name suggests, gestational diabetes occurs in pregnant women with high levels of blood sugar. Women suffering from this type of diabetes are unable to produce enough insulin and their insulin requirements are double or triple of what normal people need. Fortunately, gestational diabetes is not chronic in nature but it should be taken seriously as these patients have a higher risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes at some point in future.
Symptoms of Diabetes
Symptoms are common across all the types but may sometimes differ slightly. We could also look at most of these symptoms as warning signs of diabetes. They shouldn’t be taken likely. Here’s a lowdown on the various symptoms in different types of diabetes –
In type 1 diabetes, the symptoms often emerge out of nowhere and are extremely serious:
- Excessive thirst and famishment despite regular intake of food and water.
- Cotton-mouth syndrome
- Increased urination tendencies
- Extreme weariness
- Obstructed vision
In type 2 diabetes, the symptoms are almost similar and sometimes completely absent. Some other signs include:
- Slower scabbing or healing of wounds.
- Itchiness in the groin or vaginal area.
- Infections caused by yeast.
- Sudden weight gain
- Lack of sensitivity in hands or feet
- Erectile dysfunction
In pregnant women with diabetes, the symptoms are rarely ever present. However, some do complain of a blurry vision, frequent visits to the loo, and starvation despite eating well.
What exactly causes Diabetes?
There is no single cause of diabetes. Numerous factors related to lifestyle, general health conditions, weight, genes, etc. may trigger abnormal blood sugar levels.
Causes of Diabetes Type 1
- Infections caused by virus or bacteria
- Harmful chemicals in food
- Unfavorable genetic makeup
Causes of Diabetes Type 2
- Unhealthy diet
- Old age
- Lack of physical activity
Causes of Gestational Diabetes
- Overweight or obesity
- Birthing a baby who weighs more than 9lb
- Polycystic Ovarian Disease
- Family history
Treatment of Diabetes
As we mentioned early, Diabetes is not curable but can be controlled by regulating blood sugar levels, maintaining a normal blood pressure, and keeping lipid as well as cholesterol levels in check.
Your doctor is most likely to suggest the following for the treatment of diabetes type 1 & 2 and gestational diabetes:
- Oral medication – The most common medications include Metformin, Sulfonyureas, Meglitinides, Theazolidinediones, DPP-4 inhibitos, GLP-1 receptor agonists, and SGLT2 inhibitors. While these medicines may perform different tasks, their job is to produce more insulin and regulate sugar levels in the blood.
- Weight loss – Excess weight often results in resistance to insulin. Leading an active lifestyle and performing exercises regularly will help in weight reduction which will in turn aid in controlling blood sugar level.
- Restricted diet – Making a few alterations to your diet can go a long way in not only reducing glucose levels but also overall good health in the long run.
Prevention of Diabetes
Here are a few things you can do to prevent diabetes –
- Reduce or better yet, quit smoking
- Exercise on a daily basis
- Eat low-cholesterol foods
- Maintain a healthy oral hygiene
- Go for regular blood sugar level checkups
- Watch your weight
- Keep your blood pressure under control
- Follow a healthy diet
- Stay away from processed meals
Sometimes, irrespective of taking all the correct measures, people tend to be diagnosed with Diabetes. Treatment should not be delayed and regular checkups are a must.
Herbal Treatment of Diabetes
Some plants have shown in some studies to have anti-diabetic properties. Some of these plants include:
- Aloe vera
- Bilberry extract
- Bitter melon
Foods that Prevent Diabetes
Foods with low sugar content are recommended especially if a family member has diabetes or some warning signs are discovered. Some of such foods include;
- Diary products
- Peanut butter
- Dark chocolate