Let’s talk today about a diabetes, a very serious illness that can lead to:
- kidney failure,
- hardening and narrowing of arteries,
- coronary artery disease and heart disease,
- damaged nerves,
- foot and leg amputations.
Diabetes is widespread. Over 29 million people in the U.S. have diabetes according to the American Diabetes Association. (More than 8 million of those 29 million are unaware they have it.) Another 86 million people have prediabetes, a precursor to Type II diabetes.
Type I, Type II, and Gestational Diabetes
Diabetes is a problem with blood sugar balance. Blood sugar is vital for energy and is kept in balance by the hormone insulin, which is produced in the pancreas.
There are three types of diabetes. Type I occurs when the body’s immune system damages the pancreas so it makes no or little insulin. This type typically occurs in children and young adults.
Type II accounts for about 95% of diabetes and usually occurs in people over 40, though it can develop in younger adults and children. It happens when the body doesn’t use insulin correctly to move sugar to the cells where it’s needed for energy.
A third type is gestational diabetes, which may occur in pregnant women who don’t produce sufficient insulin. Untreated gestational diabetes can complicate pregnancy in serious ways.
Risk Factors and Treatment for Diabetes
Risk factors for Type I diabetes include family history and diseases of the pancreas. Treatment for this type includes daily injections of insulin to keep blood sugar in balance.
Risk factors for Type II diabetes include:
- being overweight,
- sedentary lifestyle,
- family history of diabetes,
- high blood pressure,
- high triglycerides and low levels of “good” (HDL) cholesterol,
Treatment for Type II diabetes includes healthy food and exercise, control of blood pressure and cholesterol, and diabetes medicines.
Protect Yourself with Knowledge
The National Institutes of Health have a list of diabetes symptoms. The Center for Disease Control has a quick five questions about symptoms of prediabetes that might put someone at risk of developing Type II diabetes. But remember, only your doctor can tell for sure if you do have type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. So visit your doctor!
Perhaps your best safeguard against developing diabetes is a healthy lifestyle. As always, this means getting healthy food in the right amounts, developing an appropriate exercise regimen, and knowing and controlling your numbers. Again, do yourself (and me!) a favor and talk to your doctor about diabetes and what you can do about it.
Until next time, be well,