November: Diabetes Awareness Month

Woman Removing Blood from Her Finger for a Blood Testby MIPC Staff

Each November, The American Diabetes Association is dedicated to raising awareness and understanding of diabetes, as well as, its consequences, management and prevention. According to the American Diabetes Association, almost 400 million people have diabetes worldwide.   Diabetes Awareness Month focuses the nation’s attention on the issues and seriousness of diabetes and of the people impacted by the disease. This year, the Association is focusing on healthier cooking and hopes to both engage and inspire people to live a more active and healthier lifestyle.

Diabetes mellitus (DM), or simply diabetes, is a metabolic disorder causing prolonged, and unusually high blood sugar.  This typically results when the body is unable to produce or utilize insulin, the hormone needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy.  Diabetes can be due to either the pancreas not producing enough insulin, or the cells of the body not responding properly to the insulin produced.  

There are three main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 results from the body’s failure to produce enough insulin. This form was previously known as “juvenile diabetes” but can be diagnosed in both children and young adults. Type 1 diabetes must be managed with insulin injections.
  • Type 2 diabetes begins when the body fails to utilize and respond to insulin properly. As the disease progresses a lack of insulin may also develop.This form is sometimes referred to as “adult-onset diabetes” and about 90% of patients diagnosed with diabetes are diagnosed as Type 2. This form of diabetes can be treated with oral medications or insulin injections.
  • Gestational diabetes occurs when pregnant women without a history of diabetes develop a high blood glucose level. This form usually resolves after the birth of the baby.

The symptoms of diabetes, regardless of the kind, are similar. However, some people with Type 2 diabetes have symptoms so mild that they go unnoticed. Women with gestational diabetes may also be asymptomatic.  This is why it is essential to test for diabetes during any routine health checkup and during pregnancy. Untreated, diabetes can cause serious long-term complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, ulcers, or damage to the eye.

Common symptoms of diabetes:

  • Frequent Urination
  • Feeling very thirsty and/or hungry despite drinking and eating.
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Weight loss – even though you are eating more (type 1)
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)

Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics and unknown factors that trigger the onset of the disease.  It is a condition characterized by high blood glucose levels caused by a total lack of insulin.  Type 1 occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas and destroys them; resulting in little or no insulin production. Type 1 diabetes develops most often in young people but can appear in adults.

Type 2 diabetes is caused by genetics and lifestyle factors.  Risk factors such as family history, ethnicity and age play a role in its development.  Similarly, being overweight, regularly consuming a diet high in calories that may result in weight gain, and regular intake of sugary drinks are all linked to type 2 diabetes. To treat and prevent diabetes, particularly Type 2, it is important to eat a healthy diet, exercise, and maintain a normal body weight.

For more information on diabetes visit http://www.diabetes.org or make an appointment with your physician to discuss assessment and/or how to better manage your diabetes.