3 Things to Know About Diabetes

3 Things to Know About Diabetes

1. It’s common. More than 30 million Americans are living with diabetes and 84 million are at risk, totaling nearly half of the U.S. adult population.

2. The most common type is often undiagnosed. Nearly 1 in 4 people with diabetes doesn’t even know it—it’s estimated that 7.2 million people with diabetes are undiagnosed. Usually this is type 2 diabetes, which is strongly linked to having family members with the condition.

3. Early screening is important. Screening through a quick online quiz from the American Diabetes Association, or a simple blood test, can help you know if you’re at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. This is sometimes referred to as having prediabetes. If have prediabetes, losing excess weight, getting regular exercise, and healthy eating can help you prevent, or at least delay, developing type 2 diabetes. The National Institutes of Health says that these lifestyle changes can reduce the odds of developing diabetes by 58 percent.

If you’re already living with any type of diabetes, it is a condition that takes daily effort to manage. But it is possible to live well with diabetes and enjoy a long and healthy life. Here’s a little more about the two main types:

Type 2 Diabetes

In type 2 diabetes, the body doesn’t process the glucose from food properly. The body either stops responding to the effects of insulin, a hormone responsible for lowering sugar levels in your body, or stops producing enough insulin.

This results in blood sugar levels that are often too high. Over time, high blood sugar levels cause damage to many critical organs. Medicines, if needed, regular physical activity, and healthy eating with a focus on energy balance and managing carbohydrate foods, work together to keep blood sugar levels healthy in people with type 2 diabetes. Cardiometabolic surgery has shown to reverse type 2 for some people, and medically supervised weight loss using a variety of methods has had great results. Reversing type 2 means you need no medicine to keep your blood sugar levels at a healthy range.

Symptoms. People with type 2 diabetes may not show any symptoms at first, which is why screening is so important. Symptoms include:

  • Increased thirst and hunger

  • Frequent urination

  • Blurry vision

  • Feeling very tired

  • Infections of the skin, gums, or bladder

  • Scrapes or bruises healing slower than usual

  • Tingling or numbness in the limbs

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is less common, representing about 5 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. People of any age can be diagnosed with type 1, although you may be more familiar with it in children.

With type 1, the body's own immune system mistakenly attacks beta cells, the special cells that produce insulin. Over a period of months or years, the beta cells stop working. This happens without symptoms or pain. With fewer beta cells, the pancreas cannot produce all the insulin that the body needs.

People with type 1 use insulin as an injectable medicine to live. We don’t really know what causes the autoimmune response that leads to type 1. Although some families have a history of the condition, other people may be the first in their family to develop it.

Symptoms. The symptoms are the same as those for type 2, but are often more common or noticeable. Loss of weight is also a common symptom.

Pregnant women are screened for gestational diabetes, a form that can occur during pregnancy. It puts moms at higher risk of diabetes in the future, and also affects the health of the children.

Any type of diabetes requires daily attention. Regular visits to your health care providers are important. Health coaches can help you navigate life between doctor visits.

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