Understanding Diabetes – Signs, Symptoms And Who Is At Risk
Rayshell Clapper for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Diabetes increasingly is becoming one of America’s most dangerous diseases. Many die every year from diabetes-related complications including heart attack and stroke.
According to the National Institutes of Health 2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report, 29.1 million people in the United States have diabetes, both diagnosed and undiagnosed. That is 9.3 percent of the population. Of that, 21 million have been diagnosed while a frightening 8.1 million live with the disease undiagnosed. In either case, diabetes is scary and even deadly, but for those living undiagnosed, it is particularly so. And both numbers have been increasing over the years.
There are three types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) provides clear definitions of each.
Children and young adults are typically diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. This accounts for only about five percent of those with diabetes.
The ADA website states, “In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life.”
Those with type 2 diabetes have blood glucose (sugar) problems Specifically, the ADA explains, “If you have type 2 diabetes your body does not use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance. At first, your pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. But, over time it isn’t able to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose at normal levels.”
Finally, there is gestational diabetes. This occurs only during pregnancy wherein most women do not stay diabetic after birth although there is a possibility of this.
There is also something called prediabetes, which is a precursor to type 2 diabetes. In the words of the ADA, those diagnosed with prediabetes will have “blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.” For many with prediabetes, they can reverse or prevent a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, but they must know that they are currently prediabetic.
So, what are the symptoms of diabetes? Well, there are several common symptoms including the following:
• often urination
• feeling very thirsty
• feeling very hungry even when eating
• extreme fatigue
• blurry vision
• cuts and bruises that heal slowly
• having a parent or sibling with diabetes
Additionally, in type 1 diabetes, many patients experience weight loss despite the fact that they are eating more, while those with type 2 diabetes often experience a tingling, pain, or numbness in their hands and feet. Both gestational diabetes and prediabetes have no clear symptoms, so pregnant women should be properly tested as should those who might be prediabetic.
Anyone who thinks they may have prediabetes should talk to their doctors as soon as possible especially those who are at high risk for type 2 diabetes.
Who is at high risk? There are three areas that affect one’s risk for type 2 diabetes that we cannot change: age, race, and family history. Moreover, there are two areas that affect one’s risk that we can change: weight and exercise level.
As people age, their risk for type 2 diabetes increases, especially if they are overweight and do not exercise regularly.
Certain races are more prone to type 2 diabetes: African Americans, Mexican Americans, American Indians, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and Asian Americans.
Finally, if a mother, father, or sibling has type 2 diabetes, then one’s risk goes up.
Those who are overweight and do not exercise regularly are also at high risk for type 2 diabetes.
Although type 1 diabetes and gestational diabetes may not be preventable, type 2 diabetes is more so. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent (CDC) identifies, in order to prevent the risk of type 2 diabetes, people need to watch their weight and exercise on a daily basis. Those who are overweight should lose weight. Simply eating right and being active will help lower the risk of a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
Diabetes in all its forms is dangerous, even deadly. Type 2 diabetes diagnoses grow in number every day, yet it is something that each individual can prevent with some effort. Let’s work to lower that number of 29 million Americans with diabetes, and let’s live happy, healthy lives.