There are few diseases that affect as many Americans as diabetes. In fact, 1 in 11 Americans has diabetes, but 25% of those with diabetes don’t know they have it. During National Diabetes Month, the nation comes together to spread the word about diabetes.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a long-lasting disease that affects how your body turns food into energy. According to the CDC, “Most of the food you eat is broken down into sugar (also called glucose) and released into your bloodstream. Your pancreas makes a hormone called insulin, which acts like a key to let the blood sugar into your body’s cells for use as energy.
If you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use the insulin it makes as well as it should. When there isn’t enough insulin or cells stop responding to insulin, too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream, which over time can cause serious health problems…”
What are the types of diabetes?
There are three types of diabetes.
Type 1 happens when the body accidentally attacks the liver and stops the body from making insulin. It is usually diagnosed in children and teens. There is no way to prevent type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 happens when the body can’s use insulin very well and can’t keep blood sugar at normal levels. It is usually diagnosed in adults. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented by getting to or staying at a healthy weight, eating healthy foods, and exercising.
Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that can develop in pregnant women who have never had diabetes. It usually goes away after the baby is born.
What are the health effects of diabetes?
Diabetes was the seventh leading case of death in the US in 2015. This is because diabetes can affect many different parts of the body.
People with diabetes are 2 times more likely to die of a heart attack than people without diabetes.
Diabetes can also damage the kidneys and make them unable to filter waste. If the kidneys fail, a person must use dialysis (a blood filtering machine).
Having high blood sugar for a long time can damage the blood vessels that feed nerves. This damage to the nerves can feel like numbness, pain, and weakness arms, hands, legs, and feet. When a person has foot numbness, it is much easier to damage the feet and can lead to amputation of a toe, foot, or leg.
The eyes can be affected by diabetes. High blood sugar can make blood vessels in the eyes swell and leak in the eye, which causes blurry vision and sometimes blindness.
How do I know if I have (or I am at risk for) diabetes?
To find out if you are at risk for diabetes or prediabetes, take the Prediabetes Risk Test HERE. Only your doctor or medical professional can say for sure if you have diabetes. If you believe you may be at risk, ask your medical professional for tests to determine if you have diabetes.