Diabetes is the number six cause of death in
men in the U.S. Diabetes happens when above normal levels of
blood glucose occur. Glucose is a type of sugar which is in most
of the foods we eat, and our bodies use glucose for energy.
Insulin is made by the pancreas, and helps glucose get into the
cells of the body. In a person with diabetes, the body does not
make enough insulin, or does not use its insulin as it should.
When this happens, sugar levels in your blood rise. Diabetes
causes heart disease, blindness, amputations, and kidney failure,
among other health complications. Early detection, exercise, a
healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight will reduce your
risk and increase your quality of life.
Pre-diabetes is when the glucose levels in the
blood are higher than normal, but not high enough yet for a
diabetes diagnosis. A pre-diabetes diagnosis means that you are
at greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and also for
stroke and heart disease. If you are determined to have
pre-diabetes, you can reduce your risk of developing diabetes
with exercise and weight loss, and possibly return to normal
blood glucose levels.
These are the symptoms of diabetes and many
will exhibit one or more of these, but some will experience no
symptoms at all. These symptoms include:
- Feeling thirsty often
- Frequent urination
- Being very hungry and/or very
- Losing weight without dieting
- Slow healing sores
- Itchy, dry skin
- Tingling or lost feeling in the
- Blurred eyesight
Only a blood test for glucose levels will tell
if you have pre-diabetes or diabetes.
There are three types of diabetes: Type 1
diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, and Gestational diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes, commonly diagnosed in
children, teenagers, and young adults, was once called juvenile
diabetes, or insulin-dependent diabetes. Beta cells of the
pancreas have been attacked and killed by the body's immune
system, and no longer make insulin. An insulin pump, insulin
shots, eating right, exercise, and controlling blood pressure and
cholesterol are common treatments.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of
diabetes, formerly called adult-onset diabetes or
noninsulin-dependent diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can appear at any
age, even in childhood, but often appears in adulthood. Insulin
resistance is usually the beginning of type 2 diabetes. Insulin
resistance happens when muscle, fat, and liver cells do not use
insulin correctly. In the beginning, the pancreas makes more
insulin to keep up with the increased demand, but eventually
cannot keep up with the demand in response to meals. Inactivity
and being overweight increases your chances of developing type 2
diabetes. Diabetes medicines, controlling high blood pressure and
cholesterol levels, eating right, and exercising are common
treatments used today.
Gestational diabetes develops in women during
the late stages of pregnancy. Gestational diabetes usually goes
away after the baby is born, but those who develop it are at
greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes later. A shortage of
insulin or pregnancy hormones usually cause gestational
Diabetes needs to be taken care of, because
serious health problems will most likely result. Heart disease,
stroke, kidney damage, nerve, eye, and dental problems are only a
few of the serious health complications that can result from
diabetes. People with diabetes are twice as likely to have heart
disease and stroke than someone without diabetes. With diabetes,
your chances of a heart attack are the same as someone who
already has had a heart attack, even if you have never had a
heart attack before. Those with diabetes may not even have the
typical heart attack symptoms during a heart attack.
Normal blood glucose levels should be 90 to 130
before meals, and levels 1 to 2 hours after meals should be less
than 180. Blood glucose levels go up after meals, but return to
the normal range within 1 to 2 hours. Those with diabetes should
try to keep their glucose levels at normal levels.
Those with diabetes should follow their meal
plan strictly, eating foods low in fat, salt, sugar, and high in
fiber. Following a proper meal plan will help prevent heart
disease and strokes, maintain your optimum weight, and allow
blood glucose levels to fall within a normal range. Do not skip
meals, exercise regularly (at least 30 minutes a day most days of
the week), and check your glucose levels often. Take your
medicine or insulin as directed, and do not miss doses. Check
your urine if your glucose level is over 240, because you could
have ketones in your body, which are produced when there is not
enough insulin in the body. Ketones can cause death. Daily
records need to be kept for you and your doctor to chart your
progress and condition.