Excuse my grammar, but all sugar ain’t sweet. Ok, all sugar is not sweet. Well, it may taste sweet but the consequences are more sour than anything. It may seem sweet, but the effects can be devastating. This is the case with Diabetes Mellitus aka “sugar” aka “sugar diabetes”. Diabetes Mellitus is a metabolic disease in which the pancreas does not make enough insulin or in which a person’s body develops insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that helps sugar(glucose) from the bloodstream go into cells of the body for energy storage and use. When insulin fails to do this, too much sugar is in the bloodstream. This can lead to Diabetes Mellitus which can lead to many complications such as kidney damage, vision and hearing loss, and heart problems.
There are a few types of diabetes:
Prediabetes- blood sugar is higher than normal but not quite high enough to be considered diabetes
Gestational Diabetes- diabetes that occurs in pregnancy
Type I Diabetes- diabetes that usually develops in children or young adults in which the pancreas does not produce insulin
Type II Diabetes- diabetes that usually develops in persons 40 and over due to insulin resistance. This means the body’s cells do not respond properly to insulin. The pancreas works to make more but finally gives up or can’t keep up.
Since Type II Diabetes is the most common and the type that can be most likely modified we will explore it a little more in-depth. Here are the top 3 things you should know.
1. It can be prevented or reversed. About 1 in 10 people have diabetes and over 90% of these people have Type II Diabetes. This is an alarming statistic, but with proper lifestyle modifications including healthy eating, increased physical activity, and weight loss diabetes can be prevented. Diabetes can also be treated with medication if needed. Medication can help reverse diabetes or at the very least control it.
2. Risk factors include family history, race, age, and weight. You are more at risk if a parent or sibling has diabetes. Black, Native Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans are at increased risk. The older you are the more increased the risk. If you are overweight or obese you are at increased risk.
3. Symptoms include excessive thirst, excessive hunger, and excessive urination. Additionally, you may lose weight without trying, develop blurry vision, have numbness or tingling in your hands and feet, and feel more fatigued. Some of these symptoms are not obvious until later so it is important to have routine follow-ups with your health care provider to be sure. If you do not have diabetes, a blood test called a hemoglobin A1C can be done yearly. If you are diabetic, it will likely be done every 3 months.
Prevention is better than treatment. Diabetes is an excellent example of this sentiment. I encourage you to take the necessary steps to prevent diabetes. If you have diabetes or prediabetes, it is not too late to begin lifestyle modifications to reverse or lessen the impact. Knowledge is power but action is the key.
For more information on Diabetes Mellitus please visit the American Diabetes Association at diabetes.org.