Your doctor may have recently advised you have diabetes. Or you are overweight and you have discovered you may be at risk of diabetes. Others may have a friend or family member who has been diagnosed with disease. Just what does diabetes mean and how does it affect your lifestyle?
Diabetes means that your blood glucose (often called blood sugar) is too high. Your blood always has some glucose in it because your body needs glucose for energy to keep you going. But too much glucose in blood isn't good for your health.
How do you get high blood glucose?
Glucose comes from food you eat and is also made in your liver and muscles. Your blood carries glucose to all cells in your body. Insulin is a chemical (a hormone) made by pancreas. The pancreas releases insulin into blood. Insulin helps glucose from food get into your cells. If your body doesn't make enough insulin or if insulin doesn't work way it should, glucose can't get into your cells. It stays in your blood instead. Your blood glucose level then gets too high, causing pre-diabetes or diabetes.
What is pre-diabetes?
Pre-diabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but are not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. People with pre-diabetes are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes and for heart disease and stroke. The good news is if you have pre-diabetes, you can reduce your risk of getting diabetes. With modest weight loss and moderate physical activity, you can delay or prevent type 2 diabetes and even return to normal glucose levels.
What are signs of diabetes?
The signs of diabetes are:
ˇbeing very thirsty
ˇfeeling very hungry or tired
ˇlosing weight without trying
ˇhaving sores that heal slowly
ˇhaving dry, itchy skin
ˇlosing feeling in your feet or having tingling in your feet
ˇhaving blurry eyesight
You may have had one or more of these signs before you found out you had diabetes. Or you may have had no signs at all. A blood test to check your glucose levels will show if you have pre-diabetes or diabetes.
What kind of diabetes do you have?
People can get diabetes at any age. Type 1 diabetes, formerly called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is usually first diagnosed in children, teenagers, or young adults. In this form of diabetes, beta cells of pancreas no longer make insulin because body's immune system has attacked and destroyed them.
Treatment for type 1 diabetes includes taking insulin shots or using an insulin pump, making wise food choices, being physically active, taking aspirin daily (for some), and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol.