Diabetes affects the body’s ability to make or properly use insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas that regulates the glucose, or sugar, in our blood. For people with diabetes, the pancreas makes insulin, but either it does not make enough of it or the body’s cells don’t use the insulin it makes.
If you have diabetes, glucose collects in the blood, which means your body isn’t getting the energy it needs. As the high levels of glucose circulate through the body, it damages cells along the way. Diabetes increases the risk of having a heart attack, stroke and kidney, eye and nerve damage.
There are three main types of diabetes:
- Type 1 Diabetes: The pancreas either makes no or too little insulin. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease that often begins in childhood. The onset is sudden. Just 5 percent of people with diabetes have Type 1. It cannot be prevented through diet or lifestyle.
- Type 2 Diabetes: The pancreas does not make enough insulin or the body doesn’t use the insulin it makes. Type 2 usually develops slowly and most people with this type of diabetes are overweight. Other risk factors include a family history of diabetes, history of gestational diabetes, older age and physical inactivity. African-Americans, Hispanic/Latino-Americans, American Indians, and some Asian-Americans and Native-Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders are at a higher risk for Type 2 and its complications.
- Gestational Diabetes: Gestational diabetes is experienced by pregnant women, and it often goes away after the baby is born. However, women who develop this type of diabetes are at greater risk for Type 2 diabetes later in life.
Symptoms vary depending on the type of diabetes, but may include:
- Frequent urination
- Extreme thirst
- Frequent hunger
- Blurry vision
- Fruity or sweet-smelling breath
- Dry, itchy skin
- Dry mouth
- Cuts or bruises that are slow to heal
- Tingling, pain or numbness in your hands or feet
It’s important to know that symptoms may be so mild that they go unnoticed.
The great news about diabetes is that there’s a great deal you can do to lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes — the kind affecting most Americans with diabetes — even if you’ve been diagnosed as prediabetic.
First, stay active. Get 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week. Even a moderate stroll around the neighborhood counts. Secondly, eat a diet rich in fiber and low in fat. The best way to achieve this is to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, limit carbohydrates, and eat processed and packaged foods, including soda and diet soda, rarely, if at all.
Are you concerned about diabetes, or are you a diabetic with questions about managing your condition? Our low-cost ($30 or less) visits provide quality care for you and your family. Call us to today at 317-272-0708 to book an appointment!