Understand your diabetes
More than 29 million people in the U.S. live with diabetes. Another 79 million are at risk of developing the disease.
Diabetes occurs when your body has a shortage of insulin or when your body loses its ability to use insulin or both. Insulin lowers your blood sugar and converts glucose (sugar) to energy. Too much sugar in the blood causes damage to the body. People with diabetes have a higher incidence of heart attack, stroke and kidney failure, as well as a higher risk for amputation of lower limbs.
The basics about diabetes
When you eat a meal, food breaks down into sugar or glucose. This glucose goes into your bloodstream and the blood glucose then elevates. The body produces insulin, which takes the glucose into the body cells to be used for energy. When you have diabetes, your body cannot produce enough insulin or can't use the insulin it does produce in the correct way.
Find out your risk factors for diabetes
Early detection and treatment of diabetes can decrease the risk of developing complications.
Common symptoms of diabetes
- Urinating often
- Feeling very thirsty
- Feeling very hungry - even though you are eating
- Extreme fatigue
- Blurry vision
- Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
- Weight loss - even though you are eating more (Type 1)
- Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (Type 2)
Risk factors for pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes
- Family history of diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Age and gender
- Diagnosis of gestational diabetes
- Race or ethnicity
- Sedentary lifestyle
- High body mass index (BMI)
Your doctor uses a series of tests to screen for diabetes and kidney disease.
- Blood glucose
- Glucose tolerance
- Cholesterol screening
Types of diabetes
We treat diabetes differently, based on how your body produces or uses insulin.
With Type 1 diabetes, the body stops making insulin because the body's immune system destroyed the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. People with Type 1 diabetes require insulin injections every day so their bodies can use the food they have eaten. Type 1 can occur at any age, but occurs generally in children and young adults. In most cases, the factors that lead to Type 1 diabetes are a family history and immune system problems.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. It appears mostly in adults, but is developing more in children and teens. With Type 2 diabetes, the body makes insulin – just not enough. And the body has trouble using the insulin correctly. People at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes usually have some or all of these traits:
- Family history of diabetes
- Inactive (sit for long stretches of time)
- African-American, Native-American, Hispanic, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander (these ethnic groups are more prone to diabetes)
- High blood glucose level
- Diabetes during pregnancy
- Given birth to a baby with a birth weight over 9 pounds
- Heart or blood vessel disease
- High blood pressure
- Abnormal blood cholesterol or triglycerides
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
The hormonal changes of pregnancy may demand more insulin than the body can make and the blood glucose levels go too high. Gestational diabetes is one of the most common problems in pregnancy. After the birth of the baby, blood glucose levels return to normal in most women. Having gestational diabetes increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
People with blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet in the range for diagnosis of diabetes have pre-diabetes. Doctors sometimes call this condition impaired fasting glucose or impaired glucose tolerance, depending on the test used to diagnose it. Pre-diabetes is becoming more common in the United States.
If you have pre-diabetes, you have a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. A diagnosis of pre-diabetes alerts you that you may need to get started with some lifestyle changes. You may delay the onset of diabetes and decrease your risk of heart disease by eating healthy meals, maintaining an exercise plan and losing weight.
Insulin resistance is a disease that affects how the body uses both insulin and sugar for energy. It can lead to a variety of serious health disorders, including diabetes.
A diagnosis of metabolic syndrome means the body’s metabolism is affected by several disorders at the same time, such as obesity (especially with abdominal obesity), high blood pressure, a fasting blood glucose over 100, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels, as well as abnormal protein urine, called micro-proteinuria. Because of the components of metabolic syndrome, it can lead to complications, including cardiovascular and kidney disease as well as Type 2 diabetes.
We can help
Our individualized diabetes education program is designed to help newly diagnosed patients or those living with diabetes who need assistance. For more information about our diabetes education program or community screening dates for diabetes, call 574.364.2746 or 574.364.2931.