Knowing and Managing Diabetes
New instances of diabetes in the U.S. are reportedly on decline, but diabetes still affects nearly 370 million people worldwide. Many people living with the disease don’t even know they have it, which is why it is so important to understand the warning signs. Here is what you should know about this condition, and how to recognize it.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a metabolic condition in which the body either does not make enough insulin or cannot properly use the insulin it does produce. Proper insulin regulation prevents excess levels of sugar in the blood. That is important because too much sugar in the blood can cause a host of medical problems including inflammation, atherosclerosis and neuropathy.
There are two types of diabetes.
- Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, and it occurs when the pancreas does produce at least some insulin, but the body does not respond to it in the way that it should. Type 2 diabetes is preventable. A federal study showed that type 2 diabetes can be delayed or prevented completely simply by exercising five days a week for 30 minutes. Losing 5-7 percent of your weight can not only make your cells more sensitive to insulin, it can significantly reduce your risk for developing diabetes.
- Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas makes little to no insulin. Type 1 diabetes is rarer than type 2, and is not preventable.
How can you recognize the symptoms of diabetes?
- Frequent bathroom trips: While the average person urinates between four and seven times a day, someone with diabetes may need to go much more frequently because their bodies are trying to get rid of the excess glucose in their systems.
- Feeling thirsty more often than usual: Because of the frequent urination, people experiencing diabetes symptoms feel the need to drink more liquids than usual in order to compensate for the imbalance. This can be accompanied by a dry mouth.
- Having itchy skin: The dehydration that causes thirst and dry mouth can also lead to dehydration that causes dry and itchy skin.
- Having more of an appetite than usual: People with untreated diabetes often feel hungry even though they are eating regularly. That’s because the body converts food into glucose, which cells use as an energy source, during the digestive process. So when the body doesn’t produce insulin (as in type 1 diabetes) or doesn’t respond to insulin (as in type 2 diabetes), this glucose can’t be drawn from the blood into the cells.
- Feeling unusually tired: If you are feeling sleepier or drowsier than usual even with regular sleep and relaxation, you may want to consider calling your doctor to rule out diabetes as a possible cause.
- Blurry vision: An imbalance in hydration can cause the lenses in eyes to swell, affecting one’s vision.
- Yeast infections: This can affect both men and women, because candida, or yeast, feeds on sugar. People with diabetes have an excessive amount of sugar present in their system which makes an ideal environment for yeast to thrive.
- Slow-healing cuts: High blood sugar levels can make it harder for the body to heal cuts.
- Pain or numbness in feet or legs: That same sustained high blood sugar can lead to nerve damage that creates pain in the lower extremities.
- Unexplained weight loss or weight gain: Dramatic weight loss or weight gain, combined with a larger appetite, can be a sign of type 1 diabetes. This weight fluctuation is often combined with drowsiness or a general lack of energy.
If you experience any of these symptoms, particularly in any combination with one another, you should consider consulting your doctor, who may schedule a blood test to determine your glucose levels.
The chances of developing most common form of diabetes, type 2, can be lowered by adopting healthy lifestyle changes.
Type 2 diabetes is a condition where either an individual pancreas produces too little insulin, or the insulin that is made is not properly used by the body.
Exercise is an important tool in the fight against type 2 diabetes. The more excess weight you carry, the less efficient your body's insulin response. A recent federal study showed that using as little as 5-7 percent of your body weight through exercising can dramatically delay or prevent the development of type 2 diabetes in individuals with are prediabetes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, exercising for 150 minutes a week, or 30 minutes a day for five days a week, is all it took for participants in the study to improve their risk. Take charge of your health and reduce your diabetes risks by moving and staying more active.
Empower yourself and learn how to make the best choices when it comes to health. Eating nutritiously is essential in coping with diabetes. Choose foods that will minimize spikes in your blood sugar. The goal is to prevent sharp fluctuations in your blood sugar levels, instead keeping them as balanced and even as possible. Avoiding simple carbohydrates and reaching for vegetables, whole grains, fruits in moderation and lean protein sources will go a long way toward improving your health.
The good news for people suffering from diabetes is that treatment has evolved such that they can continue to live full and active lifestyles. Understanding what diabetes is and how to manage it is the first step – and, of course, consulting their doctors, who will create personalized treatment regimens.
©Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 2015