December 7, 2021
Diabetes Awareness Month

American Diabetes Awareness Month

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic, long-lasting, health condition that affects how the body turns food into energy.

Most of the food we eat every day is broken down into glucose, or sugar, and is released into the bloodstream. When blood sugar rises, it signals the pancreas to release insulin. Insulin is the key to letting blood sugar into the body cells for energy use.

If someone has diabetes, their body either does not make enough or is not using enough insulin. When there is not enough insulin or cells stop responding to insulin, too much blood sugar stays in the bloodstream. Over time, that can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.

There is not a cure for diabetes yet, but losing weight, eating a healthy diet, and being active can really help. Taking medicine as needed, getting diabetes self-management education and support, and keeping health care appointments can also reduce the impact of diabetes on life.

There are 3 main types of diabetes: Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes, and Gestational Diabetes (diabetes while pregnant).

Type 1 Diabetes:

Type 1 Diabetes is thought to be an autoimmune reaction– the body attacks itself- that stops the body from making insulin. 5-10% of people with diabetes have Type 1. It is usually diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults. If someone has Type 1 Diabetes, they will need to take insulin every day to survive. Currently, no one knows how to prevent Type 1 Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes symptoms often develop quickly. Symptoms include:

  • Whole body: excessive thirst, fatigue, hunger, or sweating
  • Gastrointestinal: nausea or vomiting
  • Urinary: bedwetting or excessive urination
  • Also common: blurred vision, fast heart rate, headache, sleepiness, or weight loss

Type 2 Diabetes:

With Type 2 Diabetes, the body does not use insulin well and cannot keep blood sugar at normal levels. About 90-95% of people with diabetes have Type 2. It develops over many years and is usually diagnosed in adults (but increasingly in children, teens, and young adults). People may not notice any symptoms, so it is important to get a blood sugar test if there is a risk. Type 2 Diabetes can be prevented or delayed with healthy lifestyle changes. Symptoms include:

  • Whole body: excessive hunger, thirst, or fatigue
  • Weight: weight gain or loss
  • Also common: frequent urination, blurred vision, or poor wound healing

Gestational Diabetes:

Gestational Diabetes develops in pregnant women who have never had diabetes. If someone has Gestational Diabetes, the baby could be at higher risk for health problems. Gestational Diabetes usually goes away after the baby is born but increases the risk of Type 2 in the future. The baby is more likely to have obesity as a child or teen, and more likely to develop Type 2 in the future as well. Symptoms, if any, include:

  • Whole body: excessive hunger, thirst, or fatigue
  • Also common: frequent urination or yeast infection

Prediabetes:

In the United States, 88 million adults- more than 1 in 3- have prediabetes. However, more than 84% of them do not know they have it. With Prediabetes, blood sugar levels are high, but not high enough yet to be considered Type 2 Diabetes. Prediabetes increases risk for Type 2, heart disease, and stroke. Symptoms, if any, include:

  • Whole body: excessive hunger, thirst, or fatigue
  • Also common: frequent urination or weight gain

“What should I do if I notice any of these symptoms?

If you or someone you know experiences any of these symptoms, call a doctor immediately. The sooner treatment starts, the less of an impact it will have on your health.

For more information on what was discussed, visit www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/diabetes.html.

For more information on treatments, specific cases, research, and more, visit the American Diabetes Association website at www.diabetes.org.

Angel Johnson

Angel Johnson is a Communication & Media major who specializes in writing, directing, and editing. Angel has been interested in this field since 6th grade, when she would write scripts in her journal. She loves working with a video camera, and just seeing where it will lead.

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