What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a group of diseases where the body is not properly regulating blood sugar, resulting in a higher than normal blood glucose level over a prolonged period. The body has a system that typically regulates blood glucose levels through a hormone called insulin.
What is insulin?
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas and it is responsible for converting blood sugar, or glucose, into energy. Insulin also assists in storing glucose in muscle, fat cells, and the liver to store for later use. The liver and kidneys naturally produce glucose, but the primary way to get sugar is from food. When you eat your blood sugar spikes. This spike tells the pancreas to release insulin into the blood stream. The insulin then acts as a "key" letting the glucose into the body's cells to convert into energy, or to store for later.
What happens when you have diabetes?
When a person has diabetes the blood sugar is not able to get into the cells for energy or storage, and is stuck in the blood. There are a few reasons why this might happen- the pancreas produces no insulin, too little insulin and/or is unable to properly use insulin, called an insulin resistance.
What are the different types of diabetes?
Type 1 is when the insulin producing cells in the pancreas are destroyed by the immune system, leaving the body unable to produce insulin at all. This is most commonly diagnosed in adolescents, but can occur at any age. The exact cause of Type 1 is unknown and it cannot be prevented, however it can be managed with insulin injections.
Type 2 is when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, the body is insulin resistant, or a combination of the two. This is most commonly diagnosed in adults and accounts for the majority of all diabetes cases. It is possible to prevent or delay Type 2 with healthy lifestyle choices.
Gestational Diabetes is when a woman's body produces insulin blocking hormones during pregnancy. This type generally produces few symptoms but is important to monitor as it can cause complications with the pregnancy. Gestational diabetes generally resolves itself after birth, but can be a risk factor for developing Type 2 later on.
What are the risk factors for Type 2 diabetes?
- 57+ years
- Minimal to no exercise
- High blood pressure
- Cholesterol levels outside the norm
- History of cardiovascular disease
- Previous diagnosis of gestational diabetes
- Immediate family (parent or sibling) with diabetes
- Hereditary and family background
- Type 2 is more prevalent in people of African American, Hispanic, Asian American, Alaskan Native, American Indian, and Pacific Islander descent
What are typical symptoms of diabetes?
- Frequent urination
- Unusual thirst
- Increased appetite (especially after eating)
- Unusual weight loss
- Frequent infection
- Blurry vision
- Slow healing cuts and bruises
- Tingling/numbless in hands or feet
What are the potential complications of diabetes?
Diabetes complications can arise at any age, including but not limited to:
- Blindness (Retinopathy)
- Kidney failure
- Heart disease and stroke
While there is currently no cure for diabetes, it can be managed. With the help of a diabetes healthcare team and healthy lifestyle choices the symptoms of diabetes can be controlled and the risks of complications can be lowered or delayed. If you would like to know more information, please check the different FAQ categories in the menu on the left or contact us today!