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Learning About Diabetes

Posted on Fri, May 25, 2018

lady testing blood sugar
In the United States, over 30 million adults are living with diabetes. Every year, 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes. Over 84 million Americans over the age of 18 have been diagnosed with prediabetes. Death from diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States

It’s time to learn the facts on diabetes including the types of diabetes, how you can limit your risk of developing diabetes, and how to live a full life with a diabetes diagnosis. Please share this article on your social media – let’s help build the knowledge of diabetes so we can be part of the solution.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is metabolic disorder and impacts the way food is digested and used for energy, growth, and overall body functions. The pancreas is responsible for releasing insulin to help process and store the sugar and fat that is released from the food you eat.

Diabetes occurs when the pancreas releases too much insulin, not enough insulin, or the body doesn’t process this insulin correctly. This impacts your body’s ability to process the glucose which is needed to provide energy and fuel to the cells in your body.

Because your body isn’t processing insulin correctly, it’s not possible to absorb and use the glucose that comes from the sugars and carbohydrates in the food you eat. This causes a build-up of glucose in your bloodstream, eventually causing damage to the blood vessels in your kidneys, heart, eyes, and nervous system.

When diabetes is untreated or not treated properly, it can cause heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, and nerve damage in the feet. There is no cure for diabetes and people diagnosed with this disease need to carefully monitor their insulin levels and overall health.

There are three major types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 Diabetes. This diabetes is often diagnosed in childhood. Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease and is caused when the immune system attacks the pancreas, preventing it from making insulin. This can be a genetic condition.
  • Type 2 Diabetes. This is the most common type of diabetes. More than 95% of diabetes cases are diagnosed in adults. Due to the increase in obesity and overweight children and teenagers, Type 2 diabetes is now common in all age ranges. Type 2 diabetes is often caused by lifestyle habits including poor diet, obesity, and lack of exercise.
  • Gestational Diabetes. This diabetes occurs during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes is typically diagnosed in mid-to-late pregnancy. Gestational diabetes puts the unborn baby at risk of abnormal weight gain before birth, breath problems, and diabetes risk.

What are The Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes?

Diabetes is often left undiagnosed for a period of time due to the warning signs and symptoms being very subtle. The common symptoms of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes include:

  • Increased hunger and fatigue. Because your body isn’t able to process the glucose (energy) from your food, you’ll feel low on energy and hungry.
  • Increased thirst and urination. People with diabetes have to pee much more frequently than those without the diabetes. On average, a healthy person pees between four and seven times in a 24 hour period. Because people with diabetes pee more often, they typically have higher levels of thirst.
  • Dryness. You can experience a dry pasty mouth and dry itchy skin. This dryness and itchiness is caused by your increased level of urination and lack of body fluid.
  • Blurry vision. Because of an imbalance in your fluid levels, your eyes can swell. This swelling causes blurred vision.

Along with the symptoms above, Type 2 diabetes symptoms can also include:

  • Unusual weight fluctuations.
  • Cuts and sores that are slow-to-heal.
  • High frequency of yeast infections
  • Numbness and tingling in your hands and feet.
  • Erectile dysfunction.
  • New velvety dark skin patches in the groin, neck, and armpits.

Do not ignore any of these symptoms. Remember, diabetes is hard to diagnose and because of the mildness of the symptoms, many people are diagnosed only when they’ve suffered severe diabetes-related side effects and illness.

How is Diabetes Diagnosed and Treated?

There are three tests used to diagnose diabetes:

  • Fasting glucose test. Your blood sugar levels are measured in the morning before you have had anything to eat or drink.
  • Oral glucose tolerance test. This test requires you to drink a high glucose drink and then your blood glucose levels are measured every 30 to 60 minutes for three hours.
  • A1c test. This is a blood test that reads your average blood sugar levels for the previous two to three months.

If you are diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor will create a treatment plan for you based on your type of diabetes and severity level. There is a range of treatment options available, including:

  • Insulin. The type of diabetes you have and how your body processes insulin, determines the type of insulin you require. How you receive the insulin is based on the insulin type and frequency it’s required. Some people use an insulin pump or self-inject insulin – it really depends on what is best for you.
  • Drugs. There is a range of drugs available based on the type of diabetes and the impacts of the diagnosis. For example, drugs that impact glucose (sugar) production, increase insulin levels, or block the absorption of glucose.
  • Diet. It’s important that people with diabetes eat a balanced healthy diet. It’s also key that your meals are eaten on a regular schedule. You’ll work with dietician to determine the best diet and meal schedule for your diabetes diagnosis.
  • Exercise. Exercise improves the way your body uses insulin and can help lower your blood sugar levels. As well, because obesity is a common cause of Type 2 diabetes, exercise is frequently prescribed. Talk to your doctor about the best exercise plan for you diabetes diagnosis.
  • Natural supplements. Recent research shows that AHCC can have blood sugar lowering effects. Talk to your doctor and healthcare specialist about taking natural supplements such as AHCC to help treat your diabetes.

Before making any changes to your diabetes treatment plan, do contact your doctor.

How Can I Learn More About Diabetes?

To learn more about diabetes, visit these websites and do talk to your doctor or healthcare specialist: