Everyday you hear more and more about diabetes – as Americans age, concern over diabetes grows and searches for basic information about diabetes increase. According to the United States Center for Disease Control, in 2014 29 million people in the U.S. had some form of diabetes. With approximately 318 million people in the United States, nearly 1 in every 10 Americans experience diabetic symptoms. With such a high percentage of diabetics, it is nearly certain that you are directly related or connected to someone who lives with diabetes.
If you or a family member has recently been diagnosed with diabetes, then you probably have a lot of questions. In this post, we will provide basic information about diabetes, as well as answers to some of your questions so you know what you are facing and what you should be doing next.
The Importance of Insulin in Your Body
When talking basic information about diabetes, the best place to start is with insulin. Insulin is used by the body to help absorb sugar, also known as glucose. Cells absorb glucose to produce energy but without insulin, they are unable to do so. Insulin also keeps your blood sugar from getting too high or too low.
When your body’s ability to produce or respond to insulin is impaired, that is the start of diabetes.
The Two Types of Diabetes
Another piece of basic information about diabetes is identifying the two main types: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is characterized by a lack of insulin being produced by the body. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by the inability to use insulin effectively.
Type 1 is less common and often develops in children. With this type of diabetes, the immune system is actually destroying the cells that are responsible for releasing insulin into the body. Because of this, insulin cannot be produced in the body.
Type 2 diabetes can develop at any age but it is most commonly seen in adults. However, that does not mean that children cannot develop type 2 diabetes. It is the most common type, making up 90-95 percent of diabetes patients. With this type, the body is not able to use insulin in the proper way. This is also called insulin resistance.
Type 2 diabetes can get worse over time if it is not treated. Also with type 2 diabetes, something called insulin deficiency can occur; over time the pancreas actually starts making less and less insulin.
The Main Difference Between the Two Types of Diabetes
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are not created equal, even though they have to do with the same issue in the body. There are three main differences between the two:
- Symptoms – With type 1 diabetes, the symptoms usually start in childhood. People usually discover diabetes because of the their symptoms which causes them to seek medical help. They tend to have illnesses that come from having high blood sugar levels. With type 2 diabetes, many people do not have any symptoms before they are diagnosed. It is also usually found in adulthood but not always. Type 2 diabetes in children is becoming more common.
- Low Blood Sugar – With type 1 diabetes, episodes of low blood sugar levels, also known as hypoglycemia, are common. With type 2, there are no episodes of low blood sugar. The exception to this is if the person is currently taking insulin or other types of diabetes medication.
Prevention – There is no way to prevent type 1 diabetes currently. However, type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed. You can do this by living a healthy lifestyle that consists of eating healthy foods, staying at a healthy weight and exercising regularly.
How Diabetes Can Impact You
Other basic information includes what to do when you are diagnosed with diabetes. If you are diagnosed with diabetes, no matter the type, it is important to limit your sugar intake, if not eliminate it entirely. This can be very difficult for some people, but since the body is not creating insulin as it should, it is imperative. Diabetes can be managed if it is monitored, which can help prolong the life of an individual.
Diabetes is not a death sentence as long as you make the necessary changes.
Having diabetes can also increase the risk of other serious complications for a person, especially if they do not care for themselves the way they are instructed by a physician. Other complications that can arise include blindness, kidney failure, increased risk of heart disease and stroke and even foot or leg amputations.
When looking at additional complications that can arise, it is important to reiterate that following the instructions of your doctor or physician can greatly reduce, if not eliminate, the potential for further impact.
Common Treatments and Prevention for Diabetes
Depending on the type of diabetes and the severity of your case, there are several main types of treatments that might be recommended. The main treatment is controlling blood sugar in the body. This means eating less sugar or none at all. Additionally, there are some insulin treatments when the body cannot create it anymore.
Some other things that may be recommended include medication, weight loss, exercise and eating healthy. There have even been some cases where people are given a diagnosis of prediabetes and have turned it around by losing weight and eating healthy. If you would like to prevent it, you should always meet with your doctor as scheduled and have regular lab work done to make sure you are doing everything you can.
It is important to take care of yourself to help prevent diabetes from starting, but if you have already been diagnosed, then you must follow the orders of your doctor to take better care of your body. Diabetes is no joke but it is something that can be lived with and managed.
The best way to prevent diabetes, along with other major disease or illness, is to immediately begin regularly seeing a physician and having lab work done to test for indicators of prediabetes. At Warner Family Practice, we emphasize preventative care and advocate very strongly for regular lab testing in order to provide our providers with information allowing for prompt and aggressive treatment of any illness.
If you are in the Chandler, Tempe, Mesa, Phoenix or Gilbert area of Arizona, we encourage you to schedule a visit with one of our providers. You can call 480.831.8457 to speak with our scheduling department.
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