DIABETES: What You Should Know
If you aren’t living with diabetes, there’s a good chance that at least one of the friends or loved ones who you’ll see this upcoming holiday season is affected by the disease. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 30 million people in the U.S. – or one in 10 – have diabetes. And one in four of those are unaware that they have it. With November recognized as American Diabetes Month, it’s a great time to learn more about this condition and how you can help prevent and fight it.
What is it?
Diabetes is a chronic condition that causes blood sugar levels to rise abnormally high. Our bodies break down the food we eat into glucose – or sugar – so it can be used for energy. A hormone called insulin helps get that glucose into our cells for energy. When our bodies’ ability to make or use insulin is compromised, too much blood sugar remains in the bloodstream. This can lead to serious complications, including heart and kidney disease, vision loss, hearing loss, nerve damage and stroke.
“Diabetes is a chronic condition and some can be controlled with making lifestyle changes,” says Dr. Chang, Clark Endocrinology.
A simple blood sugar test can determine whether or not you have diabetes. Your provider can work with you to create a treatment plan and suggest positive lifestyle changes to help protect your long-term health.
The three types
There are three main types of diabetes:
Symptoms of diabetes include:
When symptoms appear depends on the type of diabetes in question. Because of their tricky nature, it’s important to discuss your risk factors with a healthcare provider and ask if getting tested is right for you.
While not a specific type of diabetes, prediabetes occurs when blood sugar levels are too high, but not high enough to classify as type 2. According to the CDC, more than one in three American adults have prediabetes, and 90 percent don’t know they have it. A blood sugar test can determine whether you have prediabetes. Changing your lifestyle to incorporate regular physical activity, healthy eating and weight loss (if you are overweight) can help prevent prediabetes from turning into Type 2.