November: American Diabetes Month

November is American Diabetes Month. While many people have heard of diabetes, not everyone has a good understanding of what the disease actually does to the body. The American Diabetes Association defines diabetes as a problem with your body that causes blood glucose levels to rise higher than normal. (Glucose is a simple sugar that the body produces by breaking down sugars and starches that you eat.)

The American Diabetes Association is once again trying to wake up America! Diabetes is a big problem in our country. To find out more about the risks, you can even take a quiz here.

The American Diabetes Association has lots of information about diabetes, whether it’s types 1 or 2, or gestational. They have a list of symptoms, myths and facts, and even healthy recipes to not only help prevent diabetes but also that are safe for those who have already been diagnosed.

Our bodies have a natural glucose regulator called insulin. Insulin is a hormone that the body creates to allow glucose to travel through the bloodstream and into cells for energy. It is created in the pancreas.

Symptoms of Types 1 and 2 Diabetes include frequent urination, extreme thirst, feeling very hungry even though you are eating, extreme fatigue, blurry vision, as well as cuts and bruises that are slow to heal.

As mentioned previously, there are a few different types of diabetes. Type 1, also known as juvenile diabetes is usually diagnosed in children. Only about 5% of people with diabetes have Type 1. In this form of the disease, the body does not produce adequate insulin, causing low or high blood glucose levels. One of the symptoms of type 1 is weight loss even though you are eating more.

Type 2, also known as adult onset diabetes is the most common form of the disease. With this type, the body does not use insulin properly. A term commonly related to this is insulin resistance, which is a pre-diabetic condition. In this form of the disease, the pancreas starts out making more of the insulin to make up for the improper use. Over time, the pancreas is unable to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to maintain normal levels of blood glucose. One of the late symptoms of type 2 is tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands and feet.

There is also gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is usually diagnosed in the 24th week of pregnancy, but it does not mean that the woman was diabetic prior to pregnancy, or that she will be diabetic after giving birth. However, it is vital that you follow your doctor’s advice and orders during pregnancy in relation to blood glucose to keep you and your baby healthy. There are often no symptoms of this form, which is why it is important for at-risk women to be tested at the proper time during pregnancy.

Here are a few more terms to add to your arsenal of health information:

Hyperglycemia - when the blood glucose levels are too high and there is too little insulin or the body can’t properly use insulin. Symptoms can include frequent urination and increased thirst.

Hypoglycemia - when the blood glucose levels are unusually low and is sometimes referred to as insulin reaction or insulin shock. Symptoms may vary from person to person, but may include shakiness, irritability or impatience, rapid/fast heartbeat, headaches, weakness or fatigue, seizures, and even unconsciousness. The list is much longer than that, but the only way to know for sure if you are hypoglycemic is to have your blood glucose levels checked.

The American Diabetes Association has some fantastic material for anyone interested in learning more about them or about American Diabetes Month. You can also search the #ThisIsDiabetes on Twitter.

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