Did you know that more than 29 million Americans have diabetes, but nearly 8 million of these individuals don’t know it? Are you surprised by the fact that an additional 86 million Americans have pre-diabetes or are at-risk for developing diabetes? Diabetes is a chronic, lifelong disease that affects your health and well-being.
That’s why Parkview Health offers a variety of personalized diabetes management programs and resources to help you learn to manage the disease and take steps toward a longer, healthier life:
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition in which your body doesn’t properly process food for energy. Most of the food you eat is turned into glucose (sugar) for your body to use as energy. The pancreas, an organ near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin. Insulin helps control glucose levels, and it helps move glucose from your bloodstream to your muscles and liver cells, where it’s stored as fuel. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin, or it can’t use its insulin as well as it should. This causes glucose to build up in your bloodstream.
Uncontrolled diabetes can cause serious health complications, including heart disease, blindness, kidney problems, nerve damage and more. However, research has proven that, with early detection and proper care, the risk for developing these complications can be reduced.
What are the risk factors and early warning signs?
Many factors can increase your risk for developing diabetes, including:
Having a parent or sibling who has diabetes
Being age 45 or older
Getting little or no exercise daily
Being of African-America, Hispanic/Latino-American, Native-American or Pacific-Island descent
Being a woman who previously had gestational diabetes
Being a women who previously gave birth to a baby weighing more than 9 points
Common symptoms or early warning signs of diabetes include:
Frequent urination or excessive thirst
Unexplained weight loss
Fatigue or extreme tiredness
Numbness or tingling in your toes or feet
Discuss your risk factors and all symptoms you’re experiencing with your physician. You can also take a free diabetes risk assessment.
Are there different types of diabetes?
There are three main types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes, formerly known as insulin-dependent or juvenile diabetes, occurs when your pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin. This type of diabetes is commonly diagnosed in children and young adults, but it can be diagnosed at any age. About 5 to 10 percent of people diagnosed with diabetes have type 1 diabetes. If you have type 1 diabetes, you will always need to take insulin, and you must check your blood sugar four or more times each day.
Type 2 diabetes, previously known as adult-onset diabetes, occurs when your body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin or stops producing enough insulin to maintain a normal blood sugar level. This type of diabetes is usually diagnosed among adults, but children who are obese may also develop type 2 diabetes. About 90 to 95 percent of people diagnosed with diabetes have type II diabetes. If you have type 2 diabetes, you may need to take medication, like insulin, to keep your blood sugar levels under control.
Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy (between weeks 24 and 28). Often temporary, this type of diabetes is caused by an increased production of hormones that make your body less able to use insulin as well as it should. If you’re a woman with, or who has had, gestational diabetes, you’re at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
There is also a stage before diabetes:
Pre-diabetes, also known as impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose, is a condition where your blood sugar is elevated, but it’s not high enough to diagnose diabetes. It’s also a risk factor for developing type II diabetes.
Having diabetes can feel overwhelming. But caring for yourself and taking action can have positive long-term effects. Regardless of why type of diabetes you have, eating healthy, exercising regularly, managing stress effectively or taking medication are just a few things you can do to take control of your health and well-being. Talk to your healthcare provider about a treatment plan that’s right for you.