By Anita Phillips, CDE
Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. It is estimated by the American Diabetes Association that 25.8 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. 7 million are undiagnosed. This is 8.3% of the population.
Risk factors for developing diabetes include heredity, obesity, inactivity and cultural influences. Being diagnosed with diabetes can be scary, but people with diabetes can live long, healthy, happy lives by learning the skills to manage their blood sugar.
When sugar builds up in the blood instead of going into the cells, it can cause two problems:
- your cells may be starved for energy, or
- over time, high blood sugar levels may hurt your eyes, kidneys, nerves or heart.
Type 1 Diabetes. With Type 1 Diabetes, the body does not produce the insulin
necessary for it to be able to use sugar. It usually is diagnosed in children and in young adults and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. Many people with Type 1 diabetes, live long, healthy lives. The key is keeping your blood sugar levels within your target range, which can be done with meal planning, exercise and insulin. You will also need to check your blood sugars regularly. People with Type 1 diabetes must take daily insulin injections or be on a pump.
Type 2 Diabetes. This is the most common form and accounts for 90 to 95 percent of people with diabetes. Is it curable? Glucose (sugar) builds up in the blood, but with treatment your blood sugar may go down to normal again. It doesn’t mean you’re cured, instead, a blood sugar in your target range shows that your treatment plan is working and that you are taking care of your diabetes.
Gestational Diabetes. This type of diabetes occurs during pregnancy. It usually goes away after pregnancy, but the woman has a great chance that she may develop Type 2 Diabetes later in life.
Often diabetes goes undiagnosed because many of its symptoms seem so harmless.
Some of the symptoms: frequent urination, excessive thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, increased fatigue, irritability, blurry vision, sleepiness, and headaches.
As a Certified Diabetes Educator at Rutherford Regional Health System, I can answer your questions and give you information about Rutherford Regional’s “Living with Diabetes” Program. For more information call me at 828-286-5501.