Diabetes affects the way the human body produces and regulates insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar, and the way it metabolizes carbohydrates. It can result in higher levels of glucose in the blood and make it collect in the urine. The condition affects almost ten percent of the global adult population, with numbers on the rise. Some forms are caused, in part, by lifestyle choices. Studies suggest the more widespread unhealthy eating habits are within a country, the more residents are diagnosed with this life-altering disease.
One significant factor in whether or not an individual develops diabetes is a family history of the disease. Type 1 diabetes is often an inherited disorder, with a higher likelihood if both parents have the condition. Triggers in childhood or adulthood cause type 1 to develop in some individuals with the genetic propensity for it. However, general family lineage, with less specific genetics, can indicate a propensity for developing type 2 diabetes.
Gestational diabetes can develop during pregnancy, when the body produces more hormones, making the cells more resistant to insulin than normal. When this happens, the pancreas begins to create more of the blood sugar hormone but, sometimes, the pancreas cannot keep up with the amount the body needs. Too much glucose stays in the bloodstream, and the expectant mother develops symptoms of diabetes. Once the baby has been born, the symptoms resolve, but women who have gestational diabetes are at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes later.
People with type 2 diabetes often carry some extra weight. Being overweight creates hormone resistance, which keeps cells from getting as much insulin as they need. The longer a person is overweight, the greater their chances of developing the disease. Individuals who are overweight and at risk for diabetes can discuss their options with a physician and develop a fitness and diet plan to reduce their chance of developing the disease. Lifestyle changes can also reduce the need for medical intervention once diabetes develops.
Studies show that type 1 diabetes is far more common in colder European countries than in countries with warmer climates, such as Africa and South America. In fact, Finland has the highest rate of type 1 diabetes in the world. When the body is consistently cold, it tries to warm its core temperature by slowing down the usual creation of essential hormones. Blood sugar rises to create more heat.
Physical inactivity can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. Failing to raise the heart rate to boost metabolism means the body has little incentive to work off consumed calories. This can lead to heart problems and circulatory issues, as well. Regular exercise can raise metabolism, promote weight loss, and lower the risk of developing diabetes.
Mutations within a single cell can cause monogenic diabetes. Though generally hereditary, these mutations can also develop in individuals with no genetic history of the condition. The cell mutations stop the pancreas from making the amount of insulin the cells require. This can cause neonatal diabetes, which generally appears within the first six months of life. They can also cause maturity-onset diabetes in adolescents and young adults.
Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening inherited disease that can severely damage the lungs, digestive system, and other essential body systems. The primary sign of cystic fibrosis is a thick, heavy mucus that can create scarring in the pancreas. The damage to this organ disturbs hormone creation, which can result in diabetes.
Hemochromatosis is an uncommon disease that affects around one million Americans. Thankfully, the condition, which occurs when the body creates too much iron, is very treatable. An excess of this mineral means the body needs to store more than it is equipped to; this can damage various organs, including the pancreas. Diabetes may develop as a secondary condition.
Some diseases create situations that cause too much or too little hormone production, which can result in hormone resistance in the cells. Cushing’s syndrome occurs when there is too much cortisol in the body. Acromegaly is the result of the prolonged, excessive production of growth hormones. Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid creates too much hormone. Any of these conditions can provoke diabetes because they upset the natural amount of insulin in the body.
Some medications inhibit hormone creation and how the body receives these essential components. Medications that can damage the pancreas interrupt its ability to produce insulin. Statins, medications that lower cholesterol, can also instigate factors that cause diabetes. Because these medications have many benefits, including decreasing the chance of heart disease by decreasing plaque buildup in the arteries, in most cases, their benefits outweigh the risks.