More than 300 million people worldwide live with diabetes. More than just a health problem, this disease costs the global economy more than $376 billion every year, and accounts for over 11% of total healthcare expenditure. While some people are more genetically predisposed to developing the disease, it can affect anyone providing certain conditions are met. Both diet and lifestyle can play a role in the development of this disease. Understanding the risk factors can help you to minimize the chance of developing diabetes.
Differences Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
There are two types of diabetes categorization used by healthcare professionals. They are known as Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is more critical and is sometimes referred to as ‘insulin-dependent’ diabetes. It can come on in childhood and is closely related to genetics. It’s a form of autoimmune disease where the body will begin to attack the pancreas with antibodies. The pancreas stops producing insulin, leading to a host of health problems.
Type 2 diabetes is often not as severe and is highly treatable with modern methods. While Type 2 diabetes is related to genetics, it can also be developed by people who don’t have a high genetic predisposition. This form of diabetes is more common and accounts for over 90% of all global cases.
The Type 2 condition usually develops in adulthood, but it is becoming more common in children and teens due to changing diets and lifestyle. Obesity is a major risk factor that increases the likelihood of Type 2 diabetes.
People with Type 2 diabetes can still produce insulin, but the body is not able to use it as effectively. This leads to blood sugar imbalances which can cause problems in the blood vessels, nerves, eyes, and kidneys. There is no cure for Type 2 diabetes, but the condition can be managed.
Type 1 Diabetes Risk Factors
Sufferers of Type 1 diabetes usually develop the condition at an early age, and there is no way to prevent its onset. The range of risk factors is relatively small. Age is a major component. Most people diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes are under 14 years of age. It’s rare for adults to be diagnosed with the condition, as symptoms are usually identified much earlier.
Family history can identify risk. A child with a parent or sibling with Type 1 diabetes is more likely to develop the condition. If both parents were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, then the risk is much higher.
There are specific genetic markers that can indicate a high probability of developing Type 1 diabetes. Testing is available. It is recommended that children with a family history of this disease are tested, so that steps can be taken to look for problems and provide management when necessary.
Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors: Are You Compromising Your Health?
Type 2 diabetes can develop at any age, but it usually happens in adulthood. As mentioned, it is becoming more common for adolescents to develop this form of the disease.
As with Type 1, Type 2 diabetes is related to genetics. A family history of the disease increases the risk factor. Ethnicity also influences the likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Asian Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, African Americans, and Pacific Islanders (Hawaiians, Tongans, Samoans etc.) are all at higher risk of developing the condition. The risk increases with age.
People over 45 years of age are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.
Depression can increase the risk of developing this disease. More research is needed to fully understand the relationship. Treating depression can help to lower your risk factor.
All the above risk factors are unavoidable. However, in the case of Type 2 diabetes, there are some factors that can be prevented. These are based around lifestyle and diet.
A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of disease. Staying active could prevent Type 2 diabetes from developing.
Heart disease increases the likelihood of developing diabetes. Managing heart health can be an effective method of lowering your risk factor.
Cholesterol is also closely related to this disease. An imbalance where there are more bad cholesterols than good cholesterols in the body will increase your risk factor. Increasing HDL cholesterol while lowering LDL cholesterol will reduce the chance of developing diabetes.
Obesity significantly increases risk. Excess fat around the mid-section (lower abdomen and hips) is closely linked to the development of diabetes. Simply deciding to make lifestyle changes could drastically reduce your risk factor. Daily exercise and maintaining a healthy weight rage is key. Reducing unhealthy foods that are high in bad cholesterol will also help. Eating more plant based foods, fish, and lean meat could all significant decrease the likelihood of developing diabetes as an adult.
What are the Symptoms of Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes?
While Type 1 symptoms are hard to ignore, some people can live for years with Type 2 diabetes and not even know it. Some of the symptoms become worse over time. If you or anyone in your family has experienced any of the following symptoms, it’s important to talk to a primary care physician as early as possible. Testing is the only reliable way to identify the disease. Early diagnosis can save lives and it is particularly important to watch for symptoms in children who have a family history of diabetes.
Some of the Earliest Signs of Type 1 Diabetes Include:
Frequent urination and unquenchable thirst. These symptoms can occur suddenly. • Heavier diapers in babies and toddlers can indicate the development of Type 1 diabetes. • Sudden bedwetting may be a sign of diabetes in children. • Sudden and unexplained weight loss, despite normal eating and appetite. • Overall decreased energy levels. Children suffering from diabetes may become withdrawn.
Children may complain of blurred vision (constant or infrequent). The above symptoms can occur incredibly early, and they should be taken as signs to consult with a doctor immediately. There are also advanced symptoms that indicate a need for emergency care.
Act immediately when children display:
Unexplained mild or severe stomach pain. • Severe fatigue and weakness. • Sudden nausea and/or vomiting. • Difficulty breathing including rapid or heavy breathing. • Fainting/loss of consciousness. Doctors can diagnose and treat Type 1 diabetes with insulin administered through pumps and injections. The disease can be managed throughout a relatively normal lifetime. Catching it early is key.
Some of the Earliest Signs of Type 2 Diabetes Include:
Children, adolescents, and adults can display similar symptoms when suffering from Type 2 diabetes.
The most common symptoms include:
Excessive thirst and increased urination. Frequent urination usually occurs in the evening.
Changes in appetite and sudden weight loss. Type 2 diabetes sufferers can experience excessive hunger and a lack of satiety.
Chronic fatigue may indicate that Type 2 diabetes has developed. • Because diabetes impacts blood vessels and the eyes, it can cause blurry vision.
Blood vessel damage from diabetes can lead to slow healing of cuts and sores. Unexplained bruising may also indicate Type 2 diabetes. While Type 2 diabetes is not as severe as Type 1, it is still a serious health condition and early diagnosis is important. Don’t ignore the warning signs. If you or anyone close to you has experienced any of these symptoms, it’s time to consult with a primary care physician.
How is Diabetes Tested?
Symptoms and family history can indicate a need for testing. Doctors have several methods available to diagnose the disease.
A random plasma glucose test can be taken. The results of the test will be assessed along with any symptoms presented.
An oral glucose test can be performed after eight hours of fasting and two hours after drinking. This test can discover both prediabetes and fully developed diabetes.
A fasting plasma glucose test takes a blood sample 8 hours after eating. This is also used to diagnose both prediabetes and developed Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. Doctors will follow up positive results with an autoantibody blood test to determine whether the disease is Type 1 or Type 2.
Incurable but Highly Manageable
Without treatment, diabetes can lead to severe health complications and even death. The risk factors and warning signs should never be ignored, especially in vulnerable children. With management in the initial stages of the disease, it’s possible for people with diabetes to live full, rewarding, and happy lives.