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Diabetes in the Elderly

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What causes it?

Diabetes (diabetes mellitus) is an ongoing condition that is observed from high blood glucose levels as a result of the body’s inability to produce or respond to insulin, a hormone that gives blood glucose access to bodily cells, which is then used for energy. Basically, it’s when your blood sugar is too high. Blood always needs some glucose in it provide energy, but too much is bad for your health.

Almost all foods have some glucose, and your body also produces it in your muscles and liver. You pancreas secretes a hormone called insulin that helps the glucose from food enter the cells. If a low amount of insulin is produced by your body, or it doesn’t function properly, and the glucose just remains in your blood, causing high blood sugars and diabetes.

Diabetes in Elderly

Diabetes in Elderly

 

What types are there?

Three types of diabetes exist, type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. For the first two types, high glucose levels build up in the blood, and starve the cells of energy.

  1. Type 1 Diabetes: Almost known as juvenile diabetes is most rampant in younger people, but can also appear in adults. This type is where the body doesn’t make enough or any insulin because the immune system has attacked and killed the cells that produce insulin. 5-10% of diabetic people have this type.
  2. Type 2 Diabetes: Also known as adult-onset diabetes is the most occurring form of diabetes. This type develops mostly in middle-aged and senior people, but can appear at any age. Type 2 diabetes typically starts with insulin resistance, a condition where liver, muscle, and fat cells no longer use insulin to transfer glucose into body cells for energy. Because of this, more insulin is needed to be produced by the body, namely the pancreas. Over time, the pancreas can no longer make enough insulin to maintain blood sugar levels, which leads to type 2 diabetes.

Gestational Diabetes

This type of diabetes is developed by some women during the late stages of pregnancy, and is caused by preganancy hormes, or an insulin shortage. Gestational diabetes typically disappears after the baby is born, but a woman who develops it is more likely to develop diabetes later in her life, along with her child.

 

Common Symptoms

Some common symptoms of type 2 diabetes are urinating excessively, and feeling dehydrated or thirsty often, both of which are less obvious in senior people. As well, often feeling tired is another symptom, which again seems normal as part of the aging process. Some other signs include dry skin, blurry eyesight, or tingling feelings in the feet. Some people don’t experience any symptoms at all.

 

Consequences if not Treated

Diabetes that aren’t treated can caused very severe and permanent problems, such as serious damage to other body parts such as the eyes, heart, gums, teeth, kidney, and various nerves. Having diabetes increased the chance of having a stroke or heart failure. It may even lead to limb amputation, or permanent blindness if nerve damage is left unchecked.

How to manage diabetes

-Regularly have your blood checked
-Be aware of any weight changes
-Check blood pressure often, and if high, visit the doctor
-Monitor cholesterol levels
-Do regular urine tests to check for kidney health
-Tablet forms of insulin are available to keep diabetes in check
-Always have your eyes checked
-Quit smoking if applicable
-Weight loss through diet and exercise help
-Regular physical activity


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