According to The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, “Diabetes is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the United States.” Without treatment, it could potentially result in blindness, nerve damage, kidney disease, and other health problems.
Over 30 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes, and about 84 million adults are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. National Diabetes Awareness Month is intended to educate and show support for those that may be affected by this disease. This increased awareness can help many people lower their risk of developing type 2 diabetes, with simple lifestyle changes like diet, increased physical activity, and weight loss.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a group of diseases in which the body does not properly produce or use insulin. This results in high blood sugar levels, as the body is unable to get sugar from the blood into the cells. This build-up of sugar in the blood can lead to several health problems.
Main Types of Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes, previously referred to as juvenile diabetes, is considered an autoimmune condition. Factors such as genetics and some viruses generally contribute to type 1 diabetes. There is currently no cure, but treatment helps prevent complications. Treatment includes maintaining a balance in blood sugar levels with insulin, as well as diet and exercise.
Signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes may include:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Bed-wetting in children who previously didn’t wet the bed during the night
- Extreme hunger
- Unintended weight loss
- Irritability and other mood changes
- Fatigue and weakness
- Blurred vision
Type 2 Diabetes
With type 2 diabetes, the body improperly metabolizes sugar. This means it either resists the effects of insulin, or does not produce enough to maintain a healthy blood sugar level. Although genetics and environmental factors may contribute to type 2 diabetes, excessive weight gain or lack of exercise are other common causes.
Potential signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes:
- Increased thirst and frequent urination
- Increased hunger
- Weight loss
- Blurred vision
- Slow-healing sores or frequent infections
- Areas of darkened skin
Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy. It is when too much sugar remains in the blood. The high blood sugar levels from the body’s improper use of glucose can affect the baby’s health as well as yours. This condition can be controlled through diet, exercise, and even medication.
Fortunately, blood sugar levels typically return to normal after the baby is born. However, it is important to consistently visit your healthcare provider and maintain healthy habits, as gestational diabetes increases your risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
Gestational diabetes generally does not reveal any obvious symptoms. Your doctor will check for gestational diabetes as part of your prenatal care. The condition typically presents itself within the last three months of pregnancy. Your doctor will consequently develop a healthcare plan with you and continually monitor your blood sugar levels.
Stay informed and know your body. If you are concerned about your health, don’t overlook your symptoms. Be sure to contact your healthcare provider for advice.