What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a medical condition that affects the body’s ability to process sugar. People may have prediabetes and diabetes for several years before the onset of symptoms. There are a few classifications of diabetes based on certain conditions:
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Gestational Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes (the most common type) develops when the body is resistant to insulin, which is produced by cells in the body. This causes an increase in insulin levels and eventually an increase in blood sugar. Type 1 diabetes differs in that the body’s immune system causes cells that produce insulin to die, resulting in a lack of insulin in the body. Regardless of the type of diabetes an individual has, diabetics are defined as having far too much glucose in their bloodstream. Diabetes is a problem because it can cause more significant threats to an individual’s health in the future.
Don’t Wait for Symptoms!
If you have risk factors for diabetes, such as a family history of diabetes, being overweight, low exercise levels, unhealthy eating habits, hypertension, or a history of gestational diabetes, make an appointment to have a diabetes screening test. Don’t wait for symptoms to present themselves!
If you have ANY risk factors for diabetes, get a diabetes screening test. Contact us to schedule an appointment.
Risk Factors of Developing Diabetes
Knowing the risk factors associated with diabetes is important for awareness and identification of symptoms of the disease. Some risk factors simply cannot be avoided or controlled, like having family members with diabetes or getting older. However, several risk factors can be avoided if you take steps to manage it properly. Controllable risk factors for diabetes include the following:
- Being overweight
- A lack of physical activity
- High blood pressure
- Unhealthy eating habits
You can lower your risk of getting diabetes (even if you’re prediabetic) by taking control of your health and lifestyle and eliminating these risk factors from your life. Talk to your doctor about managing your weight, beginning an exercise program, maintaining a safe and healthy blood pressure, and changing your diet.
Diabetes Awareness and Prevention
Maintaining your health and being aware of the risks and early signs of prediabetes is the key to staying healthy. It’s far better to be ahead of a sickness or disease rather than dealing with the treatment of it, so aim to get your health, eating habits, weight, and more in top-notch shape as soon as possible. Knowing how to reduce risk factors and make wise lifestyle choices is a key part of preventing diabetes in the first place. As we learn more about this disease, it’s clear that awareness and prevention are an integral part of reducing the impact it has on our world. Studies have found that 2 out of 5 Americans will develop Type 2 diabetes during their lifetime. This is due, in large part, to the lifestyle many of us live, with low activity levels, unhealthy diets, and obesity. The more we learn about diabetes and the impacts it has on our bodies, the more we can motivate ourselves and those around us to make better choices and live healthier lives to minimize our likelihood of developing diabetes.
Symptoms of Diabetes
If you’re not sure whether you or someone you know has diabetes, look for these symptoms. Remember, this is not a comprehensive list of all symptoms, nor should it be used to self-diagnose. If you experience any of these symptoms and think you may be at risk of having or developing diabetes, schedule a visit with your doctor to get screened for diabetes:
- Being hungry and tired regularly, even when you’ve had enough to eat and enough sleep
- Urinating more often and being thirstier than normal
- Having a dry mouth and/or itchy skin
- Blurred vision
- Being easily irritated
- Frequent yeast or other infections
- Slow-healing cuts or sores
- Numbness and/or pain in legs and feet
- Unintentional and unexplained weight loss
Why Hyperglycemia is a Problem
Hyperglycemia means that there is a high level of glucose in the blood, which causes the other symptoms of Type 2 diabetes such as thirst, weight loss and hunger, outlined below. If hyperglycemia remains untreated, it can cause damage to nerves, blood vessels, and organs.
Hyperglycemia puts you at high risk for heart attack and stroke if uncontrolled for a long time. Read 8 Tips for Better Heart Health here.
Your body is always trying to achieve homeostasis, or “balance.” High levels of sugar in your blood actually attracts water to balance it out. The water can be pulled from all over your body, including your eyes, causing thirst and frequent urination.
Insulin is the hormone that tells your body when to absorb sugar and if your cells do not receive that signal, they will not know how to use the energy in your food. Without energy, your body gets weak and tired. At first, it will try to burn fat and muscle instead, but these sources will be used up quickly without replenishment from incoming glucose.
Since you are not breaking down and using the glucose that you’re consuming, your body will continue to think you are hungry even when you’re providing it with nutrients. The sooner you are diagnosed with diabetes, the sooner you can start treatment and get your diabetes under control. Most often, diabetes is not “cured,” but it can be managed well. In some cases, catching diabetes early enough and making widespread and effective lifestyle changes can actually reverse the effects of diabetes! Knowing the risk factors of developing diabetes and the symptoms associated with the disease can help you get ahead of it and give yourself a better chance of preventing it or managing it well.
FAQs About Diabetes
What is diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a type of diabetes that results from the body’s cells being resistant to insulin. Typically, patients can have insulin resistance and high blood sugars for several years before the onset of symptoms. Type 1 diabetes is a type of disease within the body where it prevents proper production of insulin (a hormone). Both types of diabetes can result in unsafe levels of glucose in the blood and abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates. Diabetes, if left untreated, can be life-threatening depending on the type and severity of the specific case.
What is considered a normal level for blood sugar before meals (or waking up) and after meals?
We recommend consulting with your doctor about specific blood sugar levels for you, but as a rule of thumb, an average “before-meal” blood glucose (blood sugar) level for people with diabetes is 70-110 mg/dl, while after eating (1-2 hours later), the blood sugar goal would be under 140 mg/dl.
Will I have to take insulin if I have Type 2 diabetes?
Not always. If the condition is detected early enough, your body may still be able to produce adequate amounts of insulin if you carefully regulate blood sugar levels over the years.
Is diabetes Type 2 reversible?
You can moderate your Type 2 diabetes, but it can’t be reversed after you’ve been diagnosed. If, however, you have “prediabetes,” or were just diagnosed with Type 2, and then lose a considerable amount of weight, it can put the disease into remission.
How do I learn to accept that I have diabetes?
This can be a challenge for some people at first, but it’s important to work on realigning what you view as “real.” Wishing that you don’t have diabetes won’t make it go away and not getting treatment can have very adverse effects on your body.
How does diabetes affect my body?
Generally, diabetes affects blood vessels and nerves in the body, which means that it can have a direct or indirect impact on virtually every part of the body. Diabetes impacts blood pressure levels and is commonly linked with high cholesterol, and can increase the risk of heart attacks and cardiovascular disease. High blood pressure and cholesterol also raise the risk of having a stroke. Individuals who have diabetes are also prone to other complications in the eyes, such as diabetic retinopathy, which can result in severe eye disease and blindness. It can also bring about kidney issues, such as diabetic nephropathy or chronic kidney failure. Nerve problems, digestive issues, anxiety, erectile dysfunction, lower limb amputation, and more can also come about due to diabetes.
What are some simple ways to prevent and manage diabetes?
There are many ways to help prevent and manage diabetes. Also, certain lifestyle changes will be more effective than others depending on your unique situation. Generally, people who are looking to minimize their risk of or to manage their diabetes should make healthier choices when it comes to their diets and activity levels. Eating less, drinking plenty of water (especially before your meal), getting more exercise every day (e.g. 30 minutes, 5 days a week), making healthier food choices, snack on veggies (instead of sugary foods), keep track of your food consumption, and more will all help with prevention and management of diabetes. If you have questions about diabetes, such as getting tests, finding treatment, or just having someone to talk to, contact your doctor. If you are looking for a Primary Care physician, find a provider here. TrueCare provides truly care about delivering quality, compassionate health care with heart.
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