Type II Diabetes Mellitus among African Americans
Type II Diabetes Mellitus is adult-onset diabetes that affects 90% of diabetes patients. It is when the body does not recognize the insulin being produced by the pancreas, or not enough is produced. Insulin is a hormone that causes different cells to take up glucose for energy. Resistance to insulin causes the build-up of glucose in the blood, which causes improper functions of cells and blood circulation, damage to nerves and blood vessels. The prevalence of type II diabetes is highest in African Americans among ethnic and racial groups.
African American type II diabetic populations have tripled in 1993 when compared to 1963. Type II diabetes is mostly developed after age 40, but the age is getting younger due to the high rates of obese populations among African Americans. Major causes for such high rates include hereditary traits, hyperinsulinemia, poor diet, obesity, smoking habits, and lack of physical activity. Some symptoms to notice are frequent urination, increased thirst, and hunger, dry mouth, blurred vision, skin irritation, and fatigue. The medical doctor diagnoses it after a confirmatory test called fasting plasma glucose test (FPG). Blood is drawn while fasting and analyzed for blood glucose levels. Normal is considered to be between 70 to 100 milligrams per deciliter, and if it is greater than or equal to 126 milligrams per deciliter, one is said to have diabetes. Although oral medications are available, type II diabetes can be controlled by proper diet and exercise. Frequent self-testing for glucose levels using a glucometer can provide information on how well you are doing managing the levels. Frequent doctor visits for glucose tests are recommended. If left uncontrolled, it can cause eye diseases such as retinopathy, which is more prevalent in African Americans than Caucasian Americans. It can also lead to kidney failure, amputation, and the worst-case scenario, diabetic coma. Prevention is important to decrease these chances and avoid serious health consequences.
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