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Diabetes Defined: How Does this Illness Work?

by Shannon, January 14, 2019

Diabetes is not an unfamiliar term. In fact, it is commonly known as an illness that is affected by how you eat and maintain weight. However, there is so much more to this disease that most people are unaware of on a daily basis.

If you or a loved one is at risk or affected by diabetes, use this informative guide to learn more.


What is Diabetes? 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, diabetes is a condition where “the body does not properly process food for use as energy.” To put this definition into context, consider the food you eat everyday. Most of the food you ingest turns to sugar or glucose to fuel the body’s ability to exert energy. As a result, your pancreas creates insulin to move glucose into the cells of the body.

However, when you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or doesn’t utilize insulin as it should. As a result, sugars build up in your blood, causing serious health complications associated with diabetes and diabetes symptoms.


What are Common Diabetes Symptoms?

The symptoms of diabetes are not always easy to detect. However, if you notice any of the following, you should consult with your physician.

  • Excessive thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive fatigue
  • More infections than you typically have
  • Sudden changes in vision
  • Numbness or tingling in your hands and feet
  • Very dry skin
  • Slow healing sores

In addition, some people experience stomach pains, vomiting or nausea when they have diabetes.


What Are the Types of Diabetes? 

People diagnosed with diabetes may experience some or all of the common symptoms. Physicians evaluate these symptoms, along with blood testing, to determine the type of diabetes you have. The most common types, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseaseshttps://www.niddk.nih.gov/, include type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes.

If you are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, the following occurs:

  • Your body does not create insulin on its own
  • Your immune system begins to destroy the pancreas cells that make insulin

Individuals with type 1 diabetes must take insulin each day to survive.

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes indicates that your body does produce some insulin on its own, but it is not making or even using insulin well. This is the most common type of diabetes in individuals of any age.

Another type of the disease is gestational diabetes, a condition that occurs within pregnant women. In most cases, gestational diabetes does not linger after women give birth; however, you are more at risk for developing type 2 diabetes as you age.


What are the Risk Factors for Diabetes? 

According to the American Heart Association, risk factors for diabetes can vary and include modifiable risks and non-modifiable risks.

Some risk factors you may not be able to control include:

  • Family history
  • Race or ethnic background
  • Age

If you have relatives who have suffered from diabetes, you may be at more risk based on your family history. In addition, people who are Pacific Islander descent, Native American, Hispanic American, Asian American and African American are more likely to develop diabetes compared to individuals with other ethnic backgrounds. Age is also a factor. In fact, as you age your risk for diabetes increases.

The good news is that there are some risk factors you can control, such as:

  • Obesity: When you are overweight, you are putting yourself at risk for type 1 or type 2 diabetes. By reducing 5 to 7 percent of your body weight, you help to reduce your risk.
  • Lack of Exercise: It is no secret that exercise is good for your overall health, but if you are inactive, you are putting yourself at risk for diabetes.
  • Blood Pressure: High blood pressure wreaks havoc on your cardiovascular system,  it also puts you at risk for diabetes.
  • Cholesterol Levels: If you have low HDL cholesterol, you are not only at risk for cardiovascular problems, but also diabetes. Luckily, modifying your physical activity and eating habits can reduce your risk for health problems.


Is Diabetes Common?

The sad reality is that the U.S. alone has 30 million reports of individuals diagnosed with diabetes, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. In addition, only one in four people even know they have the disease.

Of the 30 million people affected by diabetes, approximately 90 to 95 percent have type 2 diabetes. As a result, diabetes is now the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. alone.

These numbers continue to grow as obesity has blossomed. You, though, can make subtle changes to your lifestyle to avoid becoming part of these statistics. It’s also possible for people with diabetes to lead a healthy lifestyle with medication and changes to eating habits and exercise routines.


How Can I Find the Support I Need?

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes, you are not alone. And, most importantly, you do not have to navigate this disease on your own.

Support and care are essential as you cope with a diabetes diagnosis. It is important to learn as much about the symptoms and care needed to help support your loved ones. Tap into resources from local and national organizations to boost your knowledge of how the disease affects everyone involved and to also identify lifestyle changes and new treatment options to minimize the effects of diabetes symptoms. In addition, lean on caregivers, such as the qualified staff from Care Indeed, to help with daily living.

Life with any type of diabetes is challenging and learning how to accept the challenge is the first step in living life. While you may struggle with the changes as a patient, caregiver or family member, the support you need is only a click away.

Care Indeed is committed to providing you the support and in-home caregivers who understand your challenges and daily struggles at work and home. Learn more about how to get the support you need while living with Diabetes today.