Getting the Facts About Diabetes

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November 26, 2013


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If you have diabetes you’re not alone. Nearly 26 million adults and children — 8 percent of the population — in the U.S. have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

Diabetes hits close to home for many of us.  My daughter, for example, has type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disorder in which the pancreas stops producing insulin, a life-sustaining hormone. Unfortunately, there is not yet a cure for type 1 diabetes.

The current outlook is different for type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 90 percent of all diabetes cases in the U.S. There are opportunities to cure and prevent type 2 diabetes, because it is a lifestyle disease that can be reversed through diet and exercise, according to Anaisys Ballesteros, D.O., a family practice specialist with Baptist Health Medical Group.

As the holiday season gets underway, it’s a good time to highlight news about prevention and detection of type 2 diabetes—especially in November, which is National Diabetes Awareness Month.

What is type 2 diabetes?

Diabetes is present when your blood glucose (sugar) levels are consistently higher than normal due to your body’s inability to efficiently use or produce insulin.

We all need insulin to transport energy from food to different muscles, organs and cells. But without insulin, that vital transportation system breaks down and dangerous amounts of glucose can get trapped in the bloodstream, while depriving vital organs of energy.

Formerly known as Adult Onset Diabetes, type 2 occurs when the body becomes “insulin resistant,” a term that refers to the body’s inability to properly use insulin, which results in elevated glucose levels.  Type 2 can be caused by many factors, and there is often a genetic link, but type 2 is often due to weight gain, poor eating habits and inactivity.

What are the symptoms? 

  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme, thirst, hunger and fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Delayed healing of cuts, bruises and injuries
  • Weight gain
  • Numbness, pain or tingling feelings in the feet or hands

Yet, the American Diabetes Association warns that some people with type 2 diabetes don’t recognize their symptoms, because they may be mild.

What are the complications?

Elevated sugar levels for an extended period increase your risk of heart disease, and stroke, and can lead to damage of the kidneys, nerves, eyes and other organs, the ADA reports.

And, the ADA says that the chances of developing complications from diabetes may be reduced through early detection and treatment.

What is prediabetes?

When you have prediabetes, it’s an important warning sign that you face a risk of developing type 2 diabetes, Dr. Ballesteros says.  About 79 million people in the U.S. have pre-diabetes. Your doctor will diagnose you with prediabetes if your blood glucose readings are above normal, but not high enough to be called diabetes.

“Early diagnosis and prevention are important,” she says. “We can give patients the opportunity to change their lifestyle and control or prevent type 2 diabetes.”

Preventive measures include proper nutrition, weight loss and exercise.

As the holidays go into full swing, and moderation and exercise routines are lost to the bustle of the season, be mindful of your health.  If you experience any changes, no matter how slight they may be, discuss them with your doctor.  And, if you’re looking for a resolution, focus on your health.  Good nutrition and regular exercise may be the cure for whatever ails you, including diabetes.

 

 

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