- What is Diabetes?
- Types of Diabetes
- Diabetes Risk Factors
- Signs of Diabetes
- What’s Insulin?
- Final Thoughts
What is Diabetes?
November is National Diabetes Month, and this year we want to raise awareness for people living with diabetes. About 1 in 10 Americans have diabetes, and 1 in 5 people don’t even know they have it. Everyone knows someone with diabetes, it is incredibly common and affects people of all ages. To learn more about diabetes, first, we must know what it is.
Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. Our bodies break down sugar, also known as glucose, and release it into our bloodstream. When this happens, your pancreas releases insulin so that the cells can use the sugar as energy. If you have diabetes, your body either can’t make enough insulin or can’t use it as well. When there is not enough insulin or the cells don’t respond to it, there will be an overload of glucose in your bloodstream for an elongated period of time. If this happens, over time, it can cause serious health issues such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease. So far there is no cure for diabetes but there are medications and treatments that can help you maintain it under control.
Types of Diabetes
There are 4 different kinds of diabetes. We will go over them briefly here, but if you want to learn more, check out our blog: The Four Types of Diabetes.
The 4 kinds are Type 1, Type 2, Pre-Diabetes, and Gestational Diabetes. Type 1 means that your pancreas either does not make insulin or does not make enough. Type 2 is usually diagnosed in adults; they can make insulin but their cells cannot use it efficiently. Pre-diabetes means that you have a higher-than-normal blood sugar level, but not high enough to be identified as type 2 Diabetes. Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy and causes an increase in blood sugar levels that can affect both the mother and the baby.
Diabetes Risk Factors
Type 1 diabetes is separate from the other types because it is thought to be caused by an immune reaction. The body basically attacks itself by mistake, and it can develop at any age. It tends to develop in children, teens, and young adults. Family history also seems to play a role with type 1 diabetes, if an immediate family has type 1 diabetes, your chances increase in having it or developing it.
The risk factors for type 2 diabetes and prediabetes are very similar. These include:
- Being overweight.
- Are 45 years or older.
- Have a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes.
- Are physically active less than 3 times a week.
- Have ever had gestational diabetes or given birth to a baby who weighed over 9 pounds.
- African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian, or Alaska Native peoples also have a higher chance of developing prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.
These are the risk factors for Gestational Diabetes:
- Had gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy.
- Have given birth to a baby who weighed over 9 pounds.
- Are overweight.
- Are more than 25 years old.
- Have a family history of type 2 diabetes.
- Have a hormone disorder called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Signs of Diabetes
While symptoms are not always noticeable at first, if you have any of the following symptoms please seek help from a medical professional. Also, these signs don’t necessarily mean that you have diabetes since our bodies react differently from others.
- Urinate a lot, often at night
- Extreme hunger and thirst
- Losing weight without trying
- Blurry vision
- Have numb or tingling hands or feet
- Feel very tired
- Have very dry skin
- Have sores that heal slowly
- Have more infections than usual
Insulin is the hormone produced to regulate blood sugar levels. Some people either have an insulin pump to monitor their blood sugar levels, or administer insulin when necessary; some people prick their fingers and test their blood to manually check their blood sugar levels. When blood sugar is too low, or too high, it can cause the body to malfunction with either hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia. When blood sugar is getting to be low, is when the body is telling the person that they need to eat; this is called hypoglycemia. Hyperglycemia is when the blood sugar is too high.
If someone in your family has diabetes, you are more likely to develop it. Do you or anyone you know have diabetes? Please comment below to tell us about how you manage your diabetes or help to take care of someone with it.