Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body is unable to properly control the amount of sugar in the blood. The body cannot control the sugar in the blood due to the lack of the hormone insulin. Diabetes has long reaching and wide ranging health affects for those that suffer from it. Diabetes significantly raises the risk of heart disease and stroke, blindness and kidney failure. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to death.
It is estimated that over 18 million Americans suffer from diabetes, and of these 18 million it is estimated that nearly one third are unaware they suffer from it.
Diabetes is easily diagnosed using a fasting blood glucose test. This if the most accurate test available. A fasting blood glucose result of 126 or higher indicates diabetes. Generally a fasting glucose test is part of an annual physical for adults.
Type 1 diabetes, or juvenile diabetes, is diagnosed in children and young adults.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and is usually found in adults over the age of 40. Type 2 diabetes is most likely due to poor diet and overweight as 80% of those with Type 2 diabetes are overweight.
There is still debate about the genetics of diabetes. If both your parents have diabetes of course your risk is higher than if one parent has it. There are also environmental triggers to diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is more closely linked to genetic factors and factors such as poor diet and lack of exercise.
Some of the symptoms of diabetes are unexplained weight loss, lethargy, excessive thirst or excessive hunger, frequent urination, dry skin, slow healing sores, sudden vision changes.
If you find you have diabetes you will need to work very closely with your health care provider in order to keep your sugar levels within acceptable ranges. You'll start testing your blood sugar at least once a day and keeping the results in a diary. You will need to re-vamp your diet and pay close attention to portion size and meal frequency. A diabetic diet doesn't necessarily mean you cannot have foods that contain carbohydrates, it means you can't have them in an unlimited fashion. Exercise done on a regular basis has been found to help control blood sugar levels. It is suggested that those with diabetes should exercise 30 to 60 minutes a day.
Living with diabetes can seem overwhelming at first, and it will take commitment on your part. However, millions of Americans live full and active lives with diabetes.