Diabetes is one of our generation’s most significant chronic diseases that is difficult to prevent and treat. We will also explore different ways to prevent it and manage it once you have it. Finally, we will discuss the importance of raising awareness about this silent epidemic.
What is it?
Diabetes is when the body cannot produce or properly use insulin, a hormone that helps the body convert food into energy. Type 1 usually affects children or young adults and is caused by a lack of insulin production or responsiveness. Type 2 usually affects people over age 30 and is caused by either obesity or genetics. In both cases, the body cannot use insulin effectively to break down food for energy.
There are different ways to manage diabetes, depending on your particular situation. Other treatments, such as oral hypoglycemic agents (OHA), fetal Glucose Monitoring Devices (FGMDs), podiatric foot surgery, etc., may also be recommended depending on your individual needs.
Prevalence of diabetes
Diabetes is a growing epidemic in the United States. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) estimates that diabetes affects more than 27 million Americans, or 10 percent of the population. Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure yet, but losing weight, eating healthy food, and being active can help. Other things that can help are – taking medicines as prescribed, getting diabetes self-management education and support, make and keeping health care appointments. This can help control blood sugar levels and prevent diabetic complications.
The causes are still unknown, but there are several theories. Some believe that the incidence of diabetes is increasing because we’re eating more processed foods and fewer whole grains. Others say a combination of genes and environment causes it. Some scientists believe that obesity may be a major contributing factor.
If you have diabetes, your blood sugar will be too high most of the time. This means that your body can’t use glucose properly, and it can damage your eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart, and other organs. There are different types, but all of them require regular monitoring and treatment. No one symptom always indicates diabetes. However, common symptoms include:
· Extreme thirst or hunger even if you’ve just had a large meal
· frequent urination
· feeling fatigued even after getting adequate rest
· blurry vision
· weight loss even though you’re eating the same amount of calories as usual
· mood swings varying from irritability to depression
Some people with diabetes also experience the following:
- 2 out of 3 adults with diabetes will have some form of vision impairment by the time they reach the age of 80
- 1 out of 4 people with type 2 will experience kidney failure by the time they reach age 80
- 1 out of 5 people with type 1 will die from complications related to their disease
Types of Diabetes
There are three main types: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant).
Type 1 is thought to be caused by an autoimmune reaction (the body attacks itself by mistake). This reaction stops your body from making insulin. Approximately 5-10% of people with diabetes have type 1. Symptoms of type 1 often develop quickly. It’s usually diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults. If you have type 1, you’ll need insulin daily to survive. Currently, no one knows how to prevent type 1.
With type 2 , your body doesn’t use insulin well and can’t keep blood sugar at normal levels. About 90-95% of people with diabetes have type 2. It develops over many years and is usually diagnosed in adults (but more and more in children, teens, and young adults). You may not notice any symptoms, so getting your blood sugar tested is essential if you’re at risk. Type 2 can be prevented or delayed with healthy lifestyle changes, such as:
- Losing weight.
- Eating healthy food.
- Being active.
Gestational diabetes develops in pregnant women who have never had diabetes. If you have gestational diabetes, your baby could be at higher risk for health problems. Gestational diabetes usually goes away after your baby is born. However, it increases your risk for type 2 later in life. In addition, your baby is more likely to have obesity as a child or teen and develop type 2 later in life.
Then there is Prediabetes; in the United States, 96 million adults—more than 1 in 3—have prediabetes. More than 8 in 10 of them don’t know they have it. With prediabetes, blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a type 2 diagnosis. As a result, prediabetes raises your risk for type 2 , heart disease, and stroke. But there’s good news. If you have prediabetes, a healthy lifestyle change program can help you take steps to reverse it altogether.
There are various methods to treat diabetes, and the best one for each person depends on their situation. Some people require medication to control the disease, while others may only need lifestyle changes.
If you have type 2 , your doctor will most likely prescribe medications to help control blood sugar levels. Medications can include insulin injections or pills, sulfonylureas (such as glipizide), or metformin (a pill). You also may need to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly with a glucose monitor.
If you have type 1 and high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend using an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor (ACE inhibitor) and insulin therapy. ACE inhibitors work by lowering blood pressure.
Some people with diabetes manage their condition without medication or with a combination of treatments that works best for them. Lifestyle changes can include regular exercise and a healthy diet.
If you want to prevent diabetes, here are five things to do:
1. Get enough exercise: A healthy lifestyle includes plenty of exercises—particularly if you’re overweight or have obesity.
2. To lower your risk of developing diabetes, keep your weight in check by eating a balanced diet and getting regular physical activity.
3. Get screened: If you have any suspicion that you may have diabetes, don’t wait—get screened!
4. Seek medical advice if symptoms arise: If symptoms develop, such as increased thirst, urination more often than usual, extreme hunger, or fatigue (especially during the night), consult your doctor immediately. These could be early signs of type 2 diabetes or other conditions related to the disease, such as heart disease or stroke.
Ask your doctor or nurse at TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track if there’s a CDC-recognized National Diabetes Prevention Program offered in your community. The best time to prevent diabetes is now.