7 Things You Really Need to Know About Diabetes

At fightdiabetes.com, we want to educate as many people as possible about diabetes, its causes, how to manage and potential cures. It’s critical that people understand how the disease works and how best to prevent or manage it in order to save lives, and raise quality of life for millions of people around the world.

But there’s so much information out there, it can be difficult to know where to begin. For that reason, we’ve created this helpful list which cuts through the medical jargon making the topic of diabetes an easy one to understand.

Let’s get started!

Fact #1:  It’s All About Insulin


know about diabetes
Source: wikimedia.org

Glucose is a form of sugar which fuels the cells in your body. Your cells need glucose to function properly. While some sugar is essential, too much of it can be dangerous, so your body releases a hormone called insulin which helps to regulate glucose in your blood. It essentially tells each cell in your body when to accept fuel, and when to block it.

You become insulin resistant when your body can no longer produce insulin correctly to keep glucose at a safe level and to tell your body when to use sugar. If your body becomes too accustomed to sugar (sugary drinks, candy, alcohol, etc.) then it will no longer produce insulin as it should. Alternatively your body might lose the ability to produce insulin unrelated to sugar intake. Both situations cause diabetes.

Fact #2: There are 2 Types of Diabetes


know about diabetes
source: practicalcures.com

The type of diabetes a person has will drastically alter the treatment they require, and the lifestyle choices they make.

Type 1 diabetes is the least common form of the disease. In this form of the disease (which used to also be called juvenile-onset diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes) the immune system (which usually kills viruses and diseases in the body) actually attacks healthy cells. Specifically, the beta-cells in pancreas which produce insulin. Eventually, there are very few or no insulin producing cells in the body and therefore a person cannot regulate sugar levels, which can be fatal. The only treatment is to take regular injections of insulin to help the body use glucose correctly.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes insulin-resistant and doesn’t use or produce insulin in the correct way. Over time the pancreas, the organ which normally produces insulin, ceases to release it into the body unless the patient takes medicine which promotes insulin production.

Both types of diabetes can be managed through lifestyle choices and medication.

Fact #3: Diabetes Can Cause a Number of Serious Complications


know about diabetes
source: idf.org

Diabetes can result in serious harm to the body. The complications of poorly controlled diabetes can include blindness, kidney disease, stroke, heart disease, infection in the feet and legs which can lead to amputation.

Don’t panic though! Lifestyle choices and medication can significantly reduce the chances of a patient developing these complications.

Fact #4: Weight is the Biggest Issue


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Especially with Type 2 diabetes (by far the most common type), obesity is a major causal factor. By simply losing weight a person can reduce their symptoms and, in some extreme cases, even reverse their diabetes altogether. Lifestyle changes including increased exercise and eating a high fiber diet which is low in sugar, is extremely beneficial.

Fact #5: Prediabetes is the Stage to Take Action


know about diabetes

Prediabetes is a condition where your blood glucose or A1c levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. People with prediabetes are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention National Diabetes Statistics Report estimates that 37% of adults over the age 20 years and more than 50% of those older than 65 years had prediabetes in 2009-2012 which translates to about 86 million adults with prediabetes in United States. The world wide prevalence of prediabetes in 2010 was estimated to be 343 million which is nearly 7.8% of the world population.

Hemoglobin A1c is the blood test that reflects the average blood sugar level over the past 3 months. This is probably the most reliable test for diabetes or even prediabetes. An A1c of 5.7-6.4% indicates prediabetes.

Diet and exercise are the most important things that need to be added to your lifestyle if you are diagnosed with prediabetes or at risk for it. Sometimes, your physician may start you on a medication called Metformin or recommend weight loss surgery if you are really overweight.

Fact #6: There are Early Warning Signs


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Intervention at this stage can stop the disease from progressing or even developing. Early warning signs include:

  • Blurred Vision
  • Frequent Urination (Especially at Night)
  • Tiredness
  • Weight Loss
  • Increased Hunger
  • Thirst Which Cannot Be Quenched

By looking out for these tell-tale signs, a person and their loved ones can intervene and seek out appropriate medical and lifestyle treatments.

Fact #7: Diabetes is Too Common To Ignore


know about diabetes
source: idf.org

The rise of diabetes is down to two factors. The first, increasing life expectancy, is of course a good thing. The second factor, however, is increasingly high fat, high sugar diets and low exercise levels. It is estimated that 1 out of every 4 people above the age of 65 in the USA alone has diabetes. This epidemic can be reversed through knowledge and dedication.

Spread the word. Share this page and help us Fight Diabetes!

Sripathi R. Kethu, M.D. FACG.
Latest posts by Sripathi R. Kethu, M.D. FACG. (see all)

Sripathi R. Kethu, M.D. FACG.

Dr Kethu is a Gastroenterologist in Dallas.

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