What is diabetes?

Diabetes is an illness that keeps the body from using food in the most effective ways.The disease causes sugar to build up in the blood. Without treatment, diabetes can lead to serious long-term health problems.

Is there just one type of diabetes?

There are two major types of diabetes.

Type 1: The body produces little or no insulin, which is a hormone that breaks food down and helps store food as usable energy.

Type 2: Occurs when the body can’t use insulin effectively. The most common type of diabetes in people over age 20..

How common is diabetes? Who develops it?

In the United States today, nearly 16 million adults and children have diabetes. Surprisingly, close to one-third of the people with type 2 diabetes don’t even realize they have it. Generally, adults who develop type 2 diabetes are older than 45 and significantly overweight.

The number of children developing type 2 diabetes has risen dramatically in recent years. Most children with type 2 diabetes are older than 10, and 85 percent of these children are overweight or obese.

What are the risk factors?

Type 1:

  • Immediate family member with type 1 diabetes
  • Caucasians are at greater risk

Type 2:

  • Family history of diabetes
  • Limited regular exercise
  • African Americans, American Indians, Hispanics, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are at greater risk
  • history of diabetes occurring during pregnancy (gestational diabetes)
  • Obesity
  • Age 45 or older
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol

Is it possible to prevent diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes can often be prevented by good fitness and maintaining a sensible body weight. Even a small weight loss of 10 pounds, along with a good diet and regular exercise, has shown to lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

What causes diabetes?

Scientists don’t know for sure, but it seems that some people are born with a tendency for diabetes. For some, the body doesn’t produce insulin that is needed to convert sugar into energy. Other people produce enough insulin, but their body doesn’t use the insulin like it should, making them insulin resistant.

What is insulin resistance?

When functioning properly, your body uses insulin to allow glucose 9sugar) to enter your muscle, fat and liver cells where it is converted to energy. In people who are insulin resistant, the insulin does not work properly, and glucose stays in the blood instead of being transported into cells.

Why should I be concerned about insulin resistance?

This condition puts you at a very high risk for a heart attack. It also causes:

  • High blood pressure
  • Lower levels of HDL (good) cholesterol
  • High blood triglyceride levels
  • Increased tendency for blood clots

Over time, high blood glucose levels can lead to blindness, nerve damage, kidney problems and heart disease.

What causes insulin resistance?

Scientists aren’t sure of the exact causes of insulin resistance, But people with one or more of the following risk factors have an increased chance of becoming insulin resistant:

  • A parent or other close relative with type 2 diabetes
  • Being overweight and inactive
  • Women who had diabetes while pregnant

Does it matter if I fond help quickly?

Yes. The sooner you get help, the better. Over time, high blood sugar can cause:

  • Nerve damage – leading to foot sores, and problems with digestion and impotence.
  • Blood vessel damage – leading to a higher risk for heart attack, stroke and blindness.
  • Narrowing of arteries – leading to reduced blood flow to your feet and high risk for limb amputation.
  • Kidney damage – leading to a higher risk of kidney failure.

What kind of treatment is available?

Managing your diabetes can help prevent or delay complication. Once it is diagnosed, diabetes can be manage by:

  • Eating correctly
  • Losing weight if overweight or maintaining aa sensible body weight
  • Follow an exercise routine
  • Taking medication and/or insulin if prescribed by your doctor