What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is one word that describes many diseases with a common link-the hormone insulin. Whether the body isn't producing enough or the cells aren't using insulin effectively, the result is the inability to regulate blood sugar levels or diabetes.
The exact cause of diabetes continues to be a mystery especially for Type 1, both risk factors such as obesity and lack of exercise and genetics appear to play roles in Type 2 diabetes. For instance, diabetes is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Currently, there are 25.8 million children and adults in the United States, or 8.3% of the population, who have diabetes. Although, an estimated 18.8 million have been diagnosed with diabetes, unfortunately, 7.0 million people (or nearly 1 in 4 people) are unaware that they have the disease. Statistics also demonstrate that 1 in 3 children born since 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime. It is estimated that 79 million Americans aged 20 or older have pre-diabetes.
The most common forms of diabetes are:
Type 1: An autoimmune disease in which the body does not produce any insulin. Onset for type 1 diabetes is usually in childhood or young adulthood (this type of diabetes used to be called juvenile on-set diabetes). People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin injections in order to regulate glucose levels. This form of diabetes accounts for 5-10% of all diabetes cases.
Type 2: This is a metabolic disorder that occurs when the body cannot produce enough or properly use insulin. This is the most common form of the disease-accounting for 90-95% of the diabetic population. Rates of type 2 diabetes are growing at epic rates due to increased incidence of obesity and sedentary lifestyle in the United States.
Gestational Diabetes: This is a condition that sometimes occurs during pregnancy. Glucose levels rise and other diabetic symptoms may appear (in a woman with no history of diabetes). This form of diabetes is not caused by a lack of insulin, but by blocking effects that other hormones have on insulin. Approximately 2-10% of pregnant women are diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
Prediabetes: Most people experience some degree of pre-diabetes before they are diagnosed with diabetes. The blood glucose values are higher than "normal" in pre-diabetes; but not high enough to be considered diabetes. People with pre-diabetes have an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Symptoms of Diabetes:
Symptoms of diabetes can be so mild that you might not even notice them -many people do not have any symptoms at all. Symptoms can include:
- Increased thirst
- Increased hunger
- Increased urination, especially at night
- Weight loss
- Blurred vision
- Sores that do not heal
How is diabetes diagnosed?
Your doctor can check your fasting glucose and if your number is over 126 mg/dl that is positive for diabetes. If your doctor does a blood test called the A1C and it is 6.5 % or above that is positive for diabetes. Your doctor may also check a random glucose meaning you do not have to fast and if it is over 200 that’s positive for diabetes. Lastly your doctor could do a 75 gram oral glucose tolerance test and if that is over 200mg/dl that is positive for diabetes.
Many of the complications of diabetes are preventable! Patients need the education to know how to prevent them!
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