November is diabetes awareness month, so we thought we’d take the opportunity to give you some information about this increasingly common disease. Take a moment to ask yourself: How much do I really know about diabetes? What would it mean if I were to get diabetes? What can I do to decrease my risk? Keep reading to find the answers!
Diabetes mellitus is actually a group of diseases where the body is unable to properly digest glucose (the main source of energy for our cells from carbohydrates) due to an inability to produce and/or use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is necessary for absorbing glucose from the blood stream so that it can be broken down to give us energy.
There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. The symptoms are similar for both types, but what is happening at the molecular level is different, and so they are treated differently. To read more about the different types, see the links at the bottom of the page.
According to the American Diabetes Association,
People with diabetes experience none or all of the following symptoms:
Frequent urination – Unusual thirst - Extreme hunger – Unusual weight loss – Extreme fatigue and Irritability – Frequent infections – Blurred vision – Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal – Tingling/numbness in the hands/feet – Recurring skin, gum, or bladder infections
Type 1 diabetes is typically diagnosed at an early age, because it is caused by genetic factors alone. Type 2 diabetes is much more common and develops as your body tries to accommodate for high levels of glucose in your diet. You could be at risk for type 2 diabetes if you:
For an easy tool to assess your level of risk, try this easy, quick test from the American Diabetes Association
If you were to be diagnosed with diabetes, you would have the opportunity to treat it with exercise, changes in your diet, insulin and possibly other medication to avoid complications such as kidney failure, blindness or heart disease. Without proper treatment, these complications can be life-threatening. Everyone can reduce their risk of being diagnosed with diabetes by exercising more and eating healthfully.
For more information on diabetes, diabetes management or to learn about ways to eat better, visit the health center, join the Lunch Bunch group and/or visit these informative links: