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What Is Diabetes?

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"What Is Diabetes?"

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What Is Diabetes?

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Diabetes is a metabolic disorder. Diabetes affects how the body uses digested food for energy. Most of the food you eat is converted into glucose, which is the name for sugar in your blood. Glucose is the main source of fuel for the body. Once food is digested and converted to simpler forms, glucose passes into the bloodstream, where it is used by cells for energy and growth.

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. The pancreas is a large gland located behind the stomach. The presence of insulin in your body is necessary so that glucose can actually gain entrance into your body's cells. When you eat, your pancreas automatically produces the right amount of insulin to move glucose from your blood into your cells.

If you have diabetes, however, your pancreas either produces little or no insulin, or your cells do not respond appropriately to the insulin that is produced. Without insulin or proper response from your cells, you will end up with too much glucose in your blood. The excess glucose will overflow into your urine and then pass out of your body. In a sense, your body is starving because it has lost its main source of fuel, even though there are huge amounts of glucose in your blood.

Numbers

As of 2007, there were 23.6 million people in the United States of America who were diagnosed with diabetes. And experts believe there are about 6 million people who have diabetes, but don't know that they have it. According to a study done in 2008 by the CDC (Center for Disease Control), Diabetes has almost doubled in the last decade. In the years 1995-1997, about 4.8 out of 1000 people were diagnosed with diabetes. In the years 2005-2007, the numbers had increased to 9.1 out of 1000. Minnesota came in with the lowest numbers of 5 out of 1000, whereas states in the south came in with the highest numbers. For example, West Virginia had the highest numbers at 12.7 per 1000.

Diabetes is one of the top ten causes of death in the United States. While there is no cure for diabetes, treatments have improved greatly in recent years and it is a disease that you can live with if you follow your physicians recommendations.

Populations At Risk

Being classified as obese makes you more prone to be diabetic. Also, Latin Americans, African Americans, and Native Americans have as much as twice the risk for becoming diabetic. Know the risk factors and know the symptoms. Remember that knowledge gives you power.