Are you or someone you love among the millions of Americans living with diabetes? According to the American Diabetes Association there are 18.8 million people who have been diagnosed as having diabetes and another 7 million that are unaware of the diagnosis. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. It is also a major cause of heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, non-traumatic lower limb amputations and new cases of blindness. Dealing with this disease can be overwhelming for the individual and their family. However with proper education and disease management those with diabetes can live long and fulfilling lives.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a medical condition that causes a defect in the cells of the pancreas that are responsible for producing insulin. Insulin is the hormone that allows blood sugar to be absorbed in the body for energy. If not controlled, diabetes can lead to serious health complications and even premature death. By working with your healthcare team, which includes a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), you can achieve normal glucose levels and lower the risk of developing complications.
There are three main types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational. Treatment and management for all 3 types require close monitoring of blood glucose levels and careful attention to nutrition and exercise.
Diabetes Basics and Symptoms
Although recent studies show early detection of diabetes may decrease the risk of complications, diabetes is often not detected because symptoms seem so harmless. According to the American Diabetes Association symptoms include:
Type 1 Diabetes—Usually diagnosed in children and young adults (previously known as Juvenile Diabetes). In Type 1, the body does not produce insulin, a hormone needed to convert sugar (glucose), starches and other food into energy. Symptoms include:
- Frequent Urination
- Unusual Thirst
- Extreme Hunger
- Unusual Weight Loss
- Extreme Fatigue and Irritability
*Type 2 Diabetes—The most common form of diabetes. In Type 2, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin (necessary to break down sugars, starches, etc. into energy). Symptoms include:
- Any Type 1 Symptoms
- Frequent Infections
- Blurred Vision
- Cuts/Bruises that are slow to heal
- Tingling/Numbness in the hands/feet
- Recurring skin, gum or bladder infections
*Often people with Type 2 diabetes show no symptoms