Among the many things that are observed in November is Diabetes Awareness Month. During the month of November, healthcare professionals seek to share information and raise awareness of the difficulties that are associated with a diagnosis of diabetes. By raising awareness, healthcare workers hope to reduce the instances of diabetes in adults and children.
There are two common types of diabetes—Type 1 and Type 2. Both types of diabetes are related to the ways in which the body responds to insulin. Insulin is a protein whose purpose is to help the cells remove glucose from the bloodstream to be used. In diabetes, there are two general problems with insulin. The problems relate to either the production of insulin or the response of the body to the insulin that is produced.
Type 1 diabetes, often referred to as juvenile diabetes, develops early in an individual’s life and is typically either a genetic or autoimmune disorder that makes it difficult for the body to produce insulin. This lack of insulin production makes it difficult for the individual’s cells to use the glucose as energy and causes a high blood sugar. Individuals with Type 1 diabetes have to test their blood sugar regularly and dose themselves with insulin in order to control their blood sugar.
Type 2 diabetes, also known as adult onset diabetes, typically develops in adulthood. Obesity is a hallmark risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, although there are other risk factors that can contribute to the development of diabetes. This form of the disorder occurs when an individual’s body begins to resist the insulin that is produced by the liver. This insulin resistance makes it difficult to regulate blood sugar. Individuals with Type 2 diabetes must be mindful of what they eat and maintain a healthy exercise regimen to help control the amount of glucose in the blood.
Knowing risk factors for adult onset diabetes—such as obesity, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, and family history—can help you reduce the chances of developing Type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association indicates that a loss of just 7% of body weight (approximately 15 pounds for a 200 pound individual) can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes by 58%. Moderate exercise of just 30 minutes a day five times per week can contribute to the reduction of your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
While some symptoms are mild and hardly noticed, some symptoms are key to indicating that you might have diabetes. If you have one or more of the above mentioned risk factors, these symptoms can be more troubling. Common symptoms are urinating often, frequent thirst, frequent hunger, fatigue, blurry vision, wounds/cuts that heal slowly, and tingling pain or numbness in the hands or the feet. If any of these symptoms appear in conjunction with any of the above risk factors, see your doctor for a checkup and blood tests to diagnose the issue.
For more information, visit the American Diabetes Association at www.diabetes.org