How Aware are You of Diabetes?

Test your knowledge of this chronic disease

Normally, insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps regulate blood glucose (also known as blood sugar) levels in the body. Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the body stops producing insulin, doesn’t make enough or doesn’t use it properly. This results in higher blood sugar levels, which can cause health issues. Currently there is no cure, but it can be managed.

There are several types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas stops producing insulin.  This form used to be called juvenile diabetes because children and young adults usually contract it. It accounts for only 5% of diabetes cases. People with this form must take insulin to replace what their bodies aren’t making. As with other forms of the disease, lifestyle changes for diet and exercise can also help as well as other treatments.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease. It happens when the body stops using insulin correctly. It is treated using oral medication and insulin as well as making lifestyle changes, including healthy eating and exercise.

Gestational diabetes is a form of the disease that women who are pregnant can develop. For some women, it goes away after the baby is born; for others, it becomes a chronic condition to manage.

Pre-diabetes is when blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but haven’t reached the diabetes range.

People with pre-diabetes may experience diabetes symptoms, but some may not, and it raises the risk for developing Type 2.

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. What better month to get informed, share your knowledge and help raise awareness? Here are some facts, figures and links to get you started.

Did you know?
According to the National Diabetes Association based on figures from 2015:

  • There are over 30 million Americans with diabetes
  • Of those, over seven million don’t even know they have diabetes
  • Each year 1.5 million Americans will be diagnosed with diabetes
  • About 84 million Americans have pre-diabetes
  • In the United States, diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death

Symptoms of Diabetes
The following are potential signs of diabetes, and if you are experiencing one, a few or all of them, scheduling an appointment with your doctor is an important step to take:

  • Excessive fatigue
  • Even though you’re eating, you’re always feeling hungry
  • Extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Blurry vision
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet – this may indicate Type 2
  • Weight loss – this may indicate Type 1

Potential Complications
Diabetes can lead to serious health issues that include:

  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Nerve damage
  • Blindness
  • Stroke

Proper treatment and monitoring can prevent these, so it’s best to follow doctor’s orders if you have diabetes!

What can you do?
If you have pre-diabetes you can reduce your risk of developing Type 2 by following a healthy eating plan, getting consistent exercise, and losing weight. If you have already been diagnosed with diabetes, work closely with your health-care team to manage the disease and notify them immediately, if you are experiencing any out-of-the-ordinary symptoms or signs of complications.

Even though diabetes is a chronic disease, people with it can lead active, healthy lifestyles by following a healthcare team-directed treatment plan for diet, exercise, and medication usage. During Diabetes Awareness Month talk to friends and family members about the signs of the disease. Then, if you or anyone you know is experiencing symptoms, see a health-care professional. Tackling the disease rather than hiding from it will lead to a longer, healthier life!

This article is part of the weekly blog of the American College for Medical Careers in Orlando, FL. For more about all of our various professional training programs, visit us online.