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Diabetes: The Growing Epidemic

Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a growing global health problem that is a disease worth examining in some detail because in many respects it typifies a disease of lifestyle.Diabetes has increased since 10 years ago when it was only 30 million people affected to about 135 million today (Hjelm, et al, 2003, p.426).

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By 2025, it is estimated that there will be around 300 million people all over the world who will acquire this disease (as cited in Hjelm, et al World Health Organization 1997).

It seems that urbanization and industrialization seem to be the reasons that now face people of every country making them vulnerable to this risk (Hjelm, et al, 2003, p. 237). In fact it is now called a ‘new world syndrome’ because it is the effect of modernization at present (Hjelm, et al, 2003, p. 238). Diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which the body fails to regulate the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Blood sugar levels in most people are 50-150 mg. of glucose per 100 ml of blood.

If a person’s blood sugar level is persistently high, serious symptoms may develop. Fortunately, nurses are in a good position to employ new research findings to fight and prevent this fatal disease. The increase in Type 2 diabetes demonstrates a disease in transition. The study therefore tries to raise awareness among nurse educators regarding the causes of the disease by reviewing the present literature and discussing implications on the content of nursing curricula especially in Great Britain and Sweden.

This is all the more relevant because nurses hold strategic positions to help reduce this problem. References in recent articles were consulted, especially those published between 1985-2001 including critical analysis of contemporary literature. Findings reveal that “diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder characterized by chronic hyperglycaemia. ” (Hjelm, et al, 2003, p. 220). Aside from the other findings that confirm the data already characterizing the disease, it was known that people with DM have reduced life expectancy (Hjelm et al. 997) and there is a high risk of developing chronic complications such as microangiopathy, neuropathy and macroangiopathy.

Social issues about diabetes Diabetes is socially produced, as posited by authors Liburd & Vinicor who state that Type 2 diabetes experienced by racial and ethnic majority groups in the United States needs a refocusing of the public health research and even its interventions. There needs to be further studies on how community health models can reflect the changing status and sociopolitical dynamics of contemporary urban communities (Liburd & Vinicor, 2003).

Consequently, the rise in type 2 diabetes comes at the recent discovery of national and international increase in the number of obese people. There is a need to look into the different ways by which the government has intervened in the rise of diabetes among the minority groups. (Bardsley & Want 2004). Type 2 diabetes and obesity has been continuously referred to as the “diseases of modernization. ” This disease has been the first to appear among the people of the Pacific Islanders, the Micronesians, Melanesians and the Polynesian ancestry.

While the western medical community continuously conducts studies on diabetes in order to attain a better understanding about it, there is a need to look into the surrounding background on how this ailment came about and how it has now been recognized as fast becoming one of the most common ailments among the people across the globe. Diabetes needs to be addressed in the public health system. Illnesses that are of natural causes “can be treated by modern medical doctors, herbalists and other doctors of natural illness.

While illnesses that are caused by occult forces or their agents can be treated by “using the power of a conjurer to produce and execute the correct treatment…Conjurers are believed to have the ability to summon a supernatural force, such as a devil or evil spirit, either to do harm, such as inducing an illness or to expel a disorder” On the other hand, for spiritual illnesses, they are treated through the “power of a god acting through a religious healer or medium that is required to diminish spiritual illness or induce a return to health in the character of a person believed to be suffering from spiritual illness” (Liburd & Vinicor, 2003).

An example are African Americans who are stereotyped as the Black Americans, they are varied “on almost any dimension one could name” in the sense that many are low income, a growing number are in the middle and upper income categories, and quite a number are categorized as professionals. While there a number in the population who are not schooled, still others are educated in different levels and educational background. Many of them are located in the rural South, but there are increasing in numbers who are located in the urban areas in the North and West of America.

African Americans have a vast array of characteristics thus the western medical community is advised to treat black patients as an individuals. Recent finding reveal that there about 10 million Americans with diabetes. Five million of which do not know that they have this disease. There three kinds of diabetes: (1) Type 1 Diabetes, also called “juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes”. It is usually first diagnosed in children, teenagers, or young adults. The beta cells of the pancreas no longer make insulin because the body’s immune system has attacked and destroyed them” This type of diabetes can be treated by taking insulin shots or using an insulin pump, proper choices of food intake, regular exercise, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol. (Liburd & Vinicor, 2003). (2) Type 2 Diabetes, is also called adult-onset or noninsulin-dependent diabetes. It is the most common form of diabetes that can be developed during early childhood.

It is begins with “insulin resistance, a condition in which fat, muscle, and liver cells do not use insulin properly” The pancreas functions to keep up with the added demand by producing more insulin, however in time, “it loses the ability to secrete enough insulin in response to meals” The treatments applied for this type of diabetes are diabetes medicines, choosing the proper food intake, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol (Liburd & Vinicor, 2003). (3) Gestational Diabetes is usually developed among women who develop diabetes during the late stages of pregnancy.

It usually goes away after the baby is born. However, a woman can possibly develop type 2 diabetes later in life if preventive measures are not done accordingly. Common symptoms associated with diabetes: Frequent urination, Extreme thirst, Extreme hunger, Dramatic weight loss with increased food intake, Weakness, fatigue, irritability, and drowsiness, Blurred vision or changes in eyesight, Tingling or numbness in the fingers, arms, legs, or feet can also be observed.

In sum, cultural systems, values, customs and the environment they say may have contributory effects in the development of ailments such as diabetes in persons. In fact, medical communities make use of these elements as means of understanding the reasons why diabetes and such other ailments are common among certain cultural and ethnical groups like the African Americans. The call for creative yet continuous studies and research is highly demanded among dedicated and committed medical communities today, especially in the development of more effective medical studies.

Research works done by considering the role of socioeconomic factors as well as racism, poverty, and race/ethnicity can be helpful and effective tools to widen the scope of research studies. The application of qualitative research methodology is an added tool to place objectivity in the conduct of integrative studies as it also draws a holistic approach in understanding the context of human behavior as well as human experience of people in their environment.

Most often than not these are rich sources of areas of study that make the research work effective and realistic (Bardsley & Want, 2004 p. 107). In sum, the development of Type 2 DM is socially-related. Authorities and experts need to see this and its implications in order to develop measures to educate nurses and other people in the health profession so that more concrete steps can be taken to keep more people healthy as long as possible. The management of self care in diabetic diseases involves an adaptation. Complication can arise due to social, psychological and physical consequences.

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