Elizabeth Murphy Alemi, my Nana, was diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus around the time of her 60th birthday. She lived with it for over 25 years. Initially, she was treated with prescription pills but as time progressed so did her disease. Within 5 years of contracting the disease, she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus, a more serious form of diabetes. Her husband, Peter Alemi, faithfully and lovingly gave her the insulin injections she required each day. Her love of life, despite the inconvenience of diabetes, was contagious. One look at her and you either smiled or laughed.NanasDiabetes.com is dedicated to her.
What is Diabetes (Diabetes Mellitus)?
Diabetes, also referred to as diabetes mellitus, is defined as a chronic health condition where your body cannot properly use insulin or properly produce enough of it to break down sugar (glucose) in the blood. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. Insulin is produced naturally when the body senses that too much glucose has been absorbed by the body. The job of insulin is to break down the glucose, send it to our body’s cells where it is then stored and used for energy. So, if insulin is unable to break down sugar, not only do our body’s cells not receive the proper energy they need, the glucose level in our blood increases. An increased sugar level in the blood is referred to as hyperglycemia.
If left untreated, diabetes mellitus or hyperglycemia, can wreak havoc on the body and cause irreparable harm. For instance, diabetes can cause cardiovascular disease which affects the heart, arteries and veins in the form of atherosclerosis (formation and buildup of plaque in the arteries). Diabetes mellitus can cause your kidneys to malfunction (renal failure), eyes to weaken (retinal failure where blood leaks onto the retina causing blurred vision or eventual blindness), nerve damage leading to prolonged healing times, amputation, erectile dysfunction, and high blood pressure which can cause unwanted strain on arterial walls.
How Long Have We Known About Diabetes?
The medical community has known about diabetes since the Middle Ages but has only begun to understand and provide treatments for diabetes since around the turn of the 20th century. Amazingly, doctors first began diabetes testing on dogs where they removed the pancreas and found them to subsequently suffer from diabetic symptoms. In 1921, doctors were able to treat dogs with diabetes by injecting them with an extract from the pancreas or more specifically, with an extract from the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas. (Interestingly, the term insulin is taken from the Latin word insula which translates to islets – a nod to the pancreas’ islets of Langerhans which produces insulin). Of course, that extract was insulin.
Types of Diabetes
There are three types of diabetes mellitus (as well as diabetes insipidus): type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. According to diabetes statistics from the ADA, 21 million people have diabetes and over 40 million have pre-diabetes. Diabetics that smoke increase their chances of developing Type 2 diabetes by over 50%.
Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus
Type 1 diabetes mellitus is a serious yet treatable autoimmune condition that permanently eliminates the insulin producing ability of the pancreas.
Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a metabolic condition not an autoimmune condition. It is typically managed through diet and exercise. With a proper diabetic diet, Type Two diabetes can be managed. Smoking can cause Type 2 diabetes because it can further impair an already at-risk endocrine system.
Gestational diabetes affects pregnant women who have never before had diabetes.
Diabetes Insipidus is not related to elevated levels of blood sugar, or hyperglycemia. Diabetes insipidus occurs when the kidneys cannot hold its urine.
The Link Between Diabetes and Sleep Apnea
According the the Philadelphia Snoring and Sleep Institute, sleep apnea, or OSA, is a dangerous sleeping disorder characterized by loud snoring, interrupted breathing patterns, and lack of oxygen to the body’s vital organs. It can occur in the nose, mouth, or throat and is caused by the narrowing of the airway during sleep. The good news is that your body has a built-in protective machanism that brings back your normal breathing pattern. The bad news is that 1) you have sleep apnea, and 2) it will result in sudden arousals over the course of the night. The end result in the short-term is that those with sleep apnea don’t get enough sleep and experience fatigue during their awake hours.
People who are sleep deprived have been known to eat more because they are trying to infuse energy into a body that is lacking it. The result of eating too much food is an overweight body which can store fat around the airway which, of course, obstructs breathing. And obstructive breathing leads to sleep apnea. It’s important to consult with a sleeping specialist if this is happening to you because you could get diabetes which can attack the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and heart. And if you have diabetes, a normal and healthy sleeping pattern is as important as a proper diet because normal blood sugar levels must be maintained.
Diabetes in Cats and Dogs
Animal diabetes statistics indicate that diabetes strikes about 1/4 of 1 percent of all cats and dogs. Diabetes symptoms in cats and dogs are similar to those in humans. The difference, however, is that most diabetic dogs suffer from Type One (1) diabetes mellitus whereas most cats – and humans – suffer from Type Two (2) diabetes mellitus.
Thanks to our friends at WalletBe – designers of men’s and women’s wallets – for their support of NanasDiabetes and increasing awareness of juvenile and adult diabetes with their customers.
Disclaimer: NanasDiabetes.com is not a medical website. Therefore, consult with your doctor before placing any type of sugar (or ingesting any type of sugar) into your diabetic cookie or dessert recipes especially if you are a diabetic, think you have diabetes or are prone to diabetes.