November is Diabetes Awareness Month

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What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic condition that impacts how your body transforms fuel (food) into energy. For example, someone with Diabetes has a system that either doesn’t produce enough insulin to let blood sugar into their body’s cells, or it doesn’t use the insulin it does produce to the full potential. This can cause serious, sometimes life-threatening health issues such as blindness, kidney disease, and heart failure. It is not curable, but it can be effectively treated so that those who have it can live long productive lives.

Different Types of Diabetes

There are three main types of Diabetes:

  • Type 1  – Over a million Americans suffer from Type 1 Diabetes, and several thousand more will be diagnosed in the next year. This type of Diabetes happens when an individual’s blood sugar is too high. Often their immune system malfunctions and attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that make the body’s insulin. This form of diabetes can strike anyone of any age, race or size.
  • Type 2 – The most common form of Diabetes is Type 2—over 30 million Americans are estimated to have it, while 84 million Americans have Pre-diabetes (which can lead to Type 2 Diabetes if not treated). With this form of the condition, the individual’s body doesn’t use insulin properly. This type of Diabetes is more common after the age of 45, though teens and younger folks can still have Type 2 Diabetes. It also affects African Americans, Asian-Americans and Native Americans more frequently than Caucasians; however, any race can get it.
  • Gestational Diabetes – This type of diabetes develops in pregnant women who didn’t previously have Diabetes and can often be controlled by diet and exercise. If not controlled, this can lead to a higher chance of C-section delivery, high blood pressure, and low blood sugar.

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes

The signs of diabetes aren’t always obvious and can be confused with other ailments. Here are some of the most common diabetes symptoms:

  • Frequent urination
  • Feeling very hungry and thirsty
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-to-heal cuts and bruises
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Numbness in hands and feet
  • Weight loss

Who is at Risk for Diabetes?

Though what causes diabetes varies from person to person, there are certain risk factors that can increase your chances of getting Diabetes. The most common are:

  • Family history of Diabetes
  • Weight (due to cells becoming resistant to insulin in fatty tissue)
  • Inactivity/Sedentary Lifestyle
  • Age
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Race
  • Hormonal changes during pregnancy
  • Environmental factors/viruses
  • Pancreatitis
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