What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a lifelong disease in which your body has trouble converting the food you eat into the energy you need. In a healthy person, a hormone called insulin helps turn food into energy. Some people with type 2 diabetes don’t make enough insulin. Others make insulin, but their bodies no longer respond to it.
What Causes Diabetes?
Doctors don’t know why people get diabetes. Type 2 diabetes tends to run in families. Some people may be more likely from birth to get diabetes. But it takes something else to start diabetes. For many people with diabetes, being overweight brings on diabetes. Other factors may be that diabetes runs in the family and/or age.
Who Can Get Diabetes?
Anyone at any age can develop diabetes. Those who have family members or relatives with diabetes have a greater chance to develop the disease.
How Is Diabetes Treated?
Today, more than ever before, people with diabetes can expect to live active, independent and vital lives if they make a lifelong commitment to careful management of the disease. Diabetes is managed in the following ways:
Education: Diabetes education is an important first step. All people with diabetes need to learn about their condition in order to make healthy lifestyle choices and manage their diabetes.
Management: Monitoring blood sugar before each meal and before sleep using a blood sugar testing meter.
Meal Planning: What, when and how much you eat play an important role in regulating how well your body manages blood sugar levels.
Exercise: Regular exercise helps your body lower blood sugars, promotes weight loss, reduces stress and enhances overall fitness.
Healthy Weight: Maintaining a healthy weight is especially important in the control of type 2 diabetes.
Medication: Type 1 diabetes always requires daily injections of insulin. Type 2 diabetes is controlled through exercise and meal planning and may require medications and/or insulin to assist the body in making or using insulin more effectively.
Lifestyle Management: Learning to reduce stress levels in day-to-day life can help people with diabetes better manage their disease.
How Do You Know If You Have Diabetes?
Early diagnosis of diabetes is extremely important. The earlier it is diagnosed, the sooner steps can be taken to manage the disease and prevent or delay complications. We recommend routine screenings every three years for everyone age 45 or over and screening every year for individuals with other risk factors especially if overweight by 20 or more pounds.
Can You Prevent Diabetes?
Scientists believe that lifestyle and type 2 diabetes are closely linked. This means that lifestyle is one area individuals can focus on to help prevent or delay the onset of the disease. A healthy diet, weight control, exercise and reduction in stress are important prevention steps. In a diabetes prevention program participants reduced their risk of developing diabetes by 58% over 3 years by using diet and increased physical activity (walked 2 ½ hours a week or 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week).
Is Diabetes Serious?
Diabetes is a leading cause of death by disease. If it is left untreated or improperly managed, the high levels of blood sugar associated with diabetes can slowly damage both the small and large blood vessels in the body, resulting in a variety of complications:
– heart disease is two to four times more common in people with diabetes
– diabetes is a leading cause of adult blindness
– people with diabetes account for 44 percent of all new cases of serious kidney disease
– worldwide, 60 percent of all non-traumatic limb amputations are due to diabetes
– diabetes is a major cause (60 to 70 percent) of erectile dysfunction
With careful management, these complications can be delayed and even prevented. The first step in preventing the onset of these complications is recognizing the symptoms that may indicate you have diabetes.