All About Diabetes
All About Diabetes
World Diabetes Day falls on November 14. According to the World Health Organization, about 422 million people worldwide have diabetes, and it’s one of the leading causes of death in the world. But people can live long and happy lives with diabetes using a well-managed lifestyle. Early diagnosis is the key to living with diabetes, so help us raise awareness by reading and sharing the following must-know basics about diabetes.
Diabetes is a disorder that causes the body to have trouble using a sugar called glucose. As a result, the sugar level in the blood becomes too high. Left untreated, high blood sugar causes health problems over time. Although there are some common risk factors for diabetes, anyone can develop it.
Diabetes occurs when either the pancreas (an organ behind your stomach) produces little insulin or no insulin at all. (Insulin is a naturally occurring hormone produced by the beta cells of the pancreas that helps the body use sugar for energy) or the pancreas makes insulin, but the insulin does not work as it should. This condition is called insulin resistance.
To better understand diabetes, it will help you to know more about how the body uses food for energy (a process called metabolism). Your body is made up of millions of cells. To make energy, the cells need food in a very simple form. When you eat or drink, much of your food is broken down into a simple sugar called glucose.
The blood vessels and blood are the highways that transport sugar from where it is either taken in (the stomach) or manufactured (in the liver) to the cells where it is used (muscles) or where it is stored (fat). Sugar cannot go into the cells by itself. The pancreas releases insulin into the blood, which serves as the helper, or the “key” that lets sugar into the cells for use as energy.
When sugar leaves the bloodstream and enters the cells, the blood sugar level is lowered. Without insulin, or the “key”, sugar cannot get into the body’s cells for use as energy. This causes sugar to rise. Too much sugar in the blood is called “hyperglycemia” (high blood sugar) or diabetes.
TYPES OF DIABETES
Type 1 Diabetes: In this type of diabetes, your body produces little to no insulin. Insulin is necessary to help the body use glucose from food for energy. This causes blood sugar levels to rise. People with type 1 need to take insulin every day. Type 1 is the most common form of diabetes in people younger than 20 years old, but it can occur at any age.
Type 2 Diabetes: With type 2 diabetes, your body either does not produce enough insulin or it doesn’t work properly in the body. When there is not enough insulin or the insulin is not used the way it should be, sugar cannot get into the body’s cells for use as energy. This causes blood sugar levels to rise. This type of diabetes is most common in people over age 45 that are overweight. Some people with type 2 diabetes can manage it by controlling their weight, watching their diet, and exercising regularly. Others may also need to take and oral medicine and/or insulin injections.
SYMPTOMS OF DIABETES
As mentioned above, the key to living a long and happy life with diabetes is early detection, so it’s crucial to understand the warning signs.
- Increased thirst
- Increased hunger (especially after eating)
- Dry mouth
- Frequent urination
- Unexplained weight loss (even though you are eating and feel hungry)
- Weak, tired feeling
- Blurred vision
- Numbness or tingling of the hands or feet
- Slow healing sores or cuts
- Dry and itchy skin (usually in the vaginal or groin area)
- Frequent yeast infections
Staying on top of your doctor appointments, eating a healthy diet and incorporating thirty minutes of exercise into your daily life will drastically reduce your chances of contracting diabetes. So don’t skip that annual physical exam and blood work, and if you find yourself experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, it’s important that you contact your primary doctor right away.