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Diabetes Defined

Diabetes Defined

Metabolic disorders defined by hyperglycemia or high blood sugar over a prolonged period of time. Common symptoms of hyperglycemia include frequent urination, excessive thirst and hunger. Acute problems that may result from diabetes include diabetic ketoacidosis, hyperglycemia, or hypoglycemia.

Type 1 or insulin dependent (formerly juvenile) diabetes is a result of the body not producing enough insulin to meet the body’s needs. Insufficient insulin prevents the body to transport blood glucose into the body’s cells where it is used as energy.

Type 1 diabetes affects over one million Americans with forty thousand new cases diagnosed each year. Insulin dependent (formerly Juvenile) diabetes can occur at any age and affects all races and genders. With appropriate medical care and healthy lifestyle choices the condition can be managed effectively over time.

Type 2 diabetes, formerly known as adult-onset diabetes, is the most common form of diabetes. Adult-onset diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t use insulin properly and occurs primarily as a result of obesity and insufficient exercise. Some cases may be controlled with a healthy diet and exercise while others may need medication or insulin for effective management.

Gestational diabetes is diagnosed when a pregnant woman without a history of diabetes develops high blood sugar levels while pregnant. Gestational diabetes often resolves after delivery and may be influenced by pregnancy hormones and insulin resistance. Effective management is essential to ensure the health of the baby and mother.

Pre-diabetes may be identified when a patient presents with high blood sugar and some symptoms of diabetes without enough for a formal diagnosis. The American Diabetes Association describes pre-diabetes as putting people at “an increased risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.” Before people develop Type 2 diabetes, they almost always have pre-diabetes.

Prevention is Key

Being overweight significantly increases your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and lead to other serious conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Losing even a small amount of weight may bring big improvements to your health.

Lifestyle changes like decreasing intake of calories and fats, daily physical activity, watching less television and moving more are small steps towards a healthier way of living.

Keeping a food and activity log along with goal setting can help you stay on track to attain your desired long-term outcomes.

Building a support system of people who share similar goals can help you stay the course. Creating social opportunities around exercise and healthy activities is an easy way to stay healthy and make lasting lifestyle changes.

Diabetes Awareness

When spending time with friends or family with diabetes, it can be helpful to know what to do in case of a diabetic emergency.

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, occurs when someone has too much insulin relative to blood glucose levels. Hypoglycemia occurs frequently following a missed meal, excessive exercise, ingesting alcohol, and taking too much insulin.

Early warning signs of hypoglycemia include hunger and weakness and can progress to confusion, blurred vision, seizure, and loss of consciousness. If the patient is still conscious, attempting to get them to eat a snack made up of fast-burning carbohydrates and sugar can prevent a worsening of their condition. If after 15 minutes they are not feeling better more food may be helpful. If their condition worsens or they lose consciousness it becomes a medical emergency and you should call 911. A glucagon shot designed to increase blood sugar can be administered if the patient has one on hand.

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a life-threatening emergency that affects diabetics when there are insufficient levels of insulin in the body. Early symptoms of DKA include excessive thirst, dry mouth and frequent urination. Left untreated, symptoms may progress to chronic fatigue, flushed skin, a fruity odor on the breath, stomach pain and disorientation and lightheadedness. Serious signs of DKA should be addressed by your provider. If you have a concern about high glucose levels, talk with your provider.

Living with diabetes or taking steps to prevent developing the condition often require relatively minor lifestyle changes. Taking action to identify risk factors or speak with your doctor about concerns you may have may make a world of difference.