The Basics of Diabetes
Most of us have heard of the disease but do you really know much about it? Or is what you know actually fact or just hand-me-down information from a friend of a friend?
With the number of people affected by diabetes growing each year by the millions, it’s important that you have accurate information so you know the warning signs are. So what is Diabetes? It’s a group of diseases described by high blood glucose (blood sugar) levels that result in the inability for your body to produce and/or use insulin1. There are three major types of Diabetes: Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 is typically diagnosed in children, teens and young adults2. If you have Type 1, your body doesn’t produce any insulin. What is insulin? It’s a hormone in your body needs to convert sugar, starches and various other food into energy you need to live your daily life. It can typically be controlled with the use of insulin therapy and other treatments. The earlier Type 1 is diagnosed, the quicker a child can learn to manage the disease and live a long, healthy life.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 is the most common form of the disease3. There are millions of people who have been diagnosed and an even higher amount who aren’t aware they are at high risk of developing it. If you have Type 2, your body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or your cells ignore the insulin. After you eat, your body breaks down the sugar and turns the starches into glucose for energy. Insulin’s job is to carry sugar from the blood to the cells. If you get a buildup of glucose in the blood, instead of it going to the cells, you can experience diabetic complications3.
Around the 24th week of pregnancy many women develop Gestational Diabetes4. The onset of Gestational Diabetes doesn’t necessarily mean you had Diabetes before or will have it after you’re pregnant. Gestational Diabetes is a form of insulin resistance – hormones from then placenta help the baby develop but those hormones also block the insulin from working properly in the mother’s body Not every woman will develop this disease, however if you do, be sure to follow your doctor’s recommendations on a healthy diet to ensure the proper development of your baby. Symptoms of Diabetes Diabetes often gets overlooked and undiagnosed because the early symptoms seem so minimal5. The sooner Diabetes is diagnosed, the less chance you have of experiencing various complications.
The most common symptoms for Type 1 include:
- Frequent urination
- Unusual thirst
- Extreme hunger
- Unusual weight loss
- Extreme fatigue and irritability
The most common symptoms of Type 2 include:
- Any of the symptoms from Type 1
- Frequent infections
- Blurred vision
- Cuts and bruises that don’t heal quickly
- Tingling or numbness in your hands and feet
- Recurring skin, gum or bladder infections
If you notice the onset of any of these symptoms in you or a loved one, it’s important to seek medical attention right away and let him or her know you’re concerned about possibly having Diabetes5.
Although Diabetes can’t always be avoided, there are lifestyle changes you can make to possibly prevent or at least delay the onset of Type 2 Diabetes. The first and most important step is to maintain a healthy diet and weight. By eating enough fruits and vegetables and limiting the amount of carbs, sugars and fats to healthy levels you can do wonders for your future health. It’s also important to maintain a regular exercise routine. These relatively simple steps could be the difference between having Diabetes and not6.
If you already have Diabetes, be sure to check your blood sugar levels on a regular basis. Knowing what your levels are can help you avoid severe spikes in blood sugar. Many people with Diabetes will carry around glucose tablets in case they need a boost in sugar and don’t have enough time to get to food.
It’s important for you to have as much information as possible on Diabetes, especially with it becoming more prevalent every year. For more information ask your doctor or visit www.diabetes.org.