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Diabetes

Diabetes

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 tired
  • Losing weight without dieting
  • Slow healing sores
  • Itchy, dry skin
  • Tingling or lost feeling in the feet
  • 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.

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.

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