What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition that affects how the body uses the energy (glucose) from food. Diabetes leads to a high level of glucose in the blood. This may be caused by to little insulin being produced by the pancreas, the body not accepting or using the insulin produced, or a combination of the two. People with diabetes need to keep their blood sugar levels in a normal range through diet, exercise, and sometimes with medication or insulin injections.

What is Insulin? It is a hormone your cells need to store and use energy from food. It helps get the glucose found in the blood into the cells for use. With diabetes, insulin is unable to do this task and blood glucose levels rise. This rise in glucose in the blood causes damage to cells.

Types of Diabetes:
– Type 1: The pancreas is unable to make insulin. The onset is very sudden and usually occurs in children. People with type 1 diabetes need daily insulin injections to replace the lack of insulin made by the body.
– Type 2: The pancreas does make insulin, but not enough to meet the demands of the body or the body is not using the insulin properly. Type 2 develops slowly and usually develops later in life. The majority of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight. Blood sugar is usually controlled with diet and exercise but sometimes oral medication is necessary to help the body respond to the inulin made. Insulin injections are rarely needed.
– Gestational: This type of diabetes has an unknown cause but develops during pregnancy. It usually disappears after the baby is born but may be a risk factor later in life for type 2 diabetes. It is hypothesized that the hormones from pregnancy block the action of insulin.

Symptoms of Diabetes: frequent urination, unusually thirsty, unintentional weight loss, exhaustion, irritable mood, blurred vision, frequent illness or infection, and poor circulation. If you have any combination of these symptoms, see your doctor. They will preform a blood glucose test to determine if you have diabetes.

Goals for Managing Diabetes
Whether you have type 1, type 2, or gestational diabetes, the the goals are all the same. You want to keep blood glucose levels within the normal range to reduce complications. Achieve a healthy lifestyle and diet that are enjoyable and doable so you stick to it to prevent complications.

Complications from Uncontrolled Diabetes
– Heart Disease: the largest and most common complication of diabetes with stroke a close second. Also, diabetes causes poor blood flow which can cause limb problems that leads to amputations.
– Eye disorders: glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, blindness
– Kidney Disease: high blood pressure, kidney disease
– Nerve damage: loss of sensation and pain or burning in the limbs, starting at the feet.
– Uncontrolled diabetes may eventually lead to diabetic coma and even death.

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, meet with your doctor and meet with a certified diabetes educator or a registered dietitian. (like me!) By following a healthy diet and lifestyle, you can live a long and fulfilling life with diabetes.



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