Diabetes Q & A
What is diabetes?
Diabetes occurs when insulin levels in your bloodstream are inadequate or not utilized correctly by your body. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that your body uses to convert sugar (glucose) in your blood to energy that your organs and other body structures need to function appropriately. Without proper amounts of insulin, glucose remains in the bloodstream and levels become increasingly high. If not managed with appropriate medical care and supervision, diabetes can lead to heart disease, blindness, stroke, and other debilitating conditions.
What causes diabetes?
The two most prevalent forms of diabetes are:
- Type 1 diabetes occurs when an immune disorder destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, eventually resulting in the lack of insulin hormone in the bloodstream. Once known as juvenile diabetes, this form of diabetes often begins and is diagnosed in childhood or in individuals under the age of 30.
- Type 2 diabetes is by far the most common form of diabetes and occurs when the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to maintain healthy blood sugar levels in the bloodstream. Usually developing in adulthood, this form of diabetes worsens with a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet leading to unhealthy weight gain and obesity.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
- Usually severe and rapid in onset, symptoms of type 1 diabetes include abnormal blood glucose levels, increased thirst, excessive urination, nausea, abdominal pain, fatigue, and increased appetite with corresponding weight loss.
- Individuals with type 2 diabetes rarely experience symptoms during the early stages of the condition but may, along with abnormal blood glucose levels, develop burning and numbness in the feet and hands, blurred vision, fatigue, slow healing wounds, excessive urination and thirst, and frequent yeast infections.
What is the treatment for diabetes?
The most effective treatment for diabetes includes a comprehensive approach to maintaining appropriate blood glucose levels via healthy lifestyle changes, use of medications when necessary, and follow-up visits with your healthcare provider for checkups and lab work. Patients who add routine exercise to their schedule and embark on a healthy, well-balanced diet typically see significant improvement in their blood glucose levels, which helps prevent complications associated with diabetes, such as nerve damage, kidney disease, and other serious medical conditions.