Butch's Brew: Diabetes Can be a Silent Killer

Many seniors have finally decided it's time to donate their work clothes to a local thrift store, and are now looking forward to those much awaited and anticipated retirement years.

They've worked most of their lives in order to slow down, sit on the porch sipping on a hot cup of coffee or cocoa, gazing as their fellow neighbors drive past them each day heading to work, and best of all, being able to take the time smell the daises.

They are at a point in their lives where they don't have to work, have a large enough nest egg to pay the incoming monthly bills, and no longer have to support their offspring because their kids have finally chosen to leave the nest to pursue their own lives and careers.

Those seniors feel it's time to do what they have so longed for, go where they want, do what they want, not be responsible for anyone else and of course, eat whatever they want without someone leaning over their shoulders telling them it isn't good for them.

Everyone knows all about those Golden Years where life is beautiful all the time. Yep, it's time for them to plan those much anticipated vacation trips.

However, with the Golden Years, the old body starts wearing down, sometimes developing aches and pains such as arthritis, various other medical problems, and an even worse condition - the dreaded "D" word - diabetes.

In an average adult (with a body weight between 150 to 180 pounds), the volume of blood can be between 4.7 to 5.5 liters of blood surging through their arteries, veins, blood vessels, heart, lungs and other organs at any given moment.

That may sound like a lot of blood, but it is actually only 158.925 to 185.977 fluid ounces of blood. In the five and half liters of blood, the average person only needs about one teaspoon of sugar for all of their regular activities.

If a person regularly has more than a teaspoon of sugar pumping through their bodies at any given time, the excess sugar can slow down their circulation, which, over time, can cause many medical problems and/or conditions such as diabetes.

The amount of blood in a person's system isn't dependent on body size, but rather on their weight. High blood sugar levels can cause a number of health problems. Most notably, it can trigger the onslaught of diabetes, especially in people with a family history of the disease.

Before anyone starts saying information about diabetes is a bunch of gobbledygook and they won't ever get it, they need to realize diabetes can be a silent killer. Diabetes can cause heart and kidney problems, blindness and can result in having to amputate one or more limbs.

It is estimated that about 366 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes and that figure includes 24 million Americans. They're two common levels or stages of diabetes. They are Type 1 and Type 2; in addition to one not everyone is aware of - gestational diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is a medical condition in which a person's pancreas does not make enough insulin. If a person's liver makes too much sugar, the glucose, builds up in the blood and may lead to serious medical problems. Type 2 diabetes can normally be controlled through diet, exercise and if needed, by medication prescribed by a physician.

Type 1 is a condition where the body's cells start to show resistance to insulin. Glucose (sugar in the blood) is what provides the body with its primary source of energy. This type of sugar comes from digesting carbohydrates into a chemical that the glucose circulates in the blood instead of being used by the cells for energy. If blood sugar levels become elevated, increased weight, unhealthy diet and an inactive lifestyle can lead to pre-diabetes.

While the cause for Type 1 diabetes is actually unknown, it occurs when the pancreas can no longer produce insulin. It requires those diagnosed as having Type 1 diabetes to take multiple daily injections of insulin or use an insulin pump for continuous delivery of insulin.

Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy. Like other types of diabetes, gestational diabetes affects how a woman's cells use the sugar and can affect their pregnancy and their baby's health.

Any pregnancy complication is concerning, but there's good news. Moms who are expecting can help control gestational diabetes by eating healthy foods, exercising and, if necessary, taking medication. Controlling blood sugar can prevent a difficult birth and keep them and their baby healthy.

In gestational diabetes, blood sugar usually returns to normal soon after delivery. But if moms have had gestational diabetes, their risk of acquiring Type 2 diabetes can occur. It is recommended that expectant moms continue working with their pediatrician and health care team to monitor and manage their blood sugar.

It is medically proven that effectively managing diabetes can be tough at times, and seniors may experience new hurdles with unique challenges dealing with this debilitating disease. With age, seniors are exposed to increased risk for specific complications that require due diligence and care; it can lessen the chances of acquiring diabetes.

Diabetics must realize they need to monitor their diet to prevent their blood sugar from running dangerously high or even too low. Pre-diabetics, or those with a genetic disposition to the disease, can keep their blood sugar levels low by being careful with their diet, which in turn can possibly reduce their risk of needing medication. If they are vigilant with their efforts, then their physician might agree that minimal medication is need. It is not advised that a diagnosed diabetic take charge of managing his or her blood sugar with just diet and exercise alone.

As people get older, jumping over those medical hurdles can become a bit more challenging and cumbersome, but they must realize it's not impossible. Living with diabetes isn't the end of the world as we know it. With a proper diet, exercise, and with a few simple life-altering changes along with the proper management by their health care professionals, this medical condition can be controlled.