There are more than 100 million Americans who have diabetes or pre-diabetes – encompassing almost a third of the country’s entire population. About 84 million have pre-diabetes, and 30 million do have the condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Diabetes is a serious, chronic disease that affects the body’s ability to process glucose (sugar). Glucose provides the energy necessary for the cells in our muscles and tissues to work properly, but diabetes leads to high sugar levels which can cause serious health problems.
In 2015, diabetes was among the top 10 causes of death in this country, ranking at #7. That is why it is so important to catch the disease early, at the pre-diabetic stage, before it turns into type 2 diabetes.
Types of Diabetes
There are several different types of diabetes. Let’s take a look at the most common forms of this condition:
Gestational diabetes occurs only in pregnant women. If a woman develops this condition, it usually first appears in the middle of pregnancy. This condition normally disappears after the baby has been born.
If gestational diabetes is ignored, it can cause the baby to be too large. This can create problems during delivery, and the baby can develop nerve damage because there tends to be too much pressure on the baby’s shoulder during the birthing process.
A woman with gestational diabetes also has a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes later. Therefore, it is important for the woman to continue following a healthy lifestyle of diet and exercise.
If a person has pre-diabetes, it is necessary for them to modify their diet in order to avoid developing type 2 diabetes. Regular exercise that the person enjoys and a healthy diet comprising foods the person likes are essential to maintaining a healthy body going forward.
If you have pre-diabetes and you continue to follow an unhealthy lifestyle, eating high-fat foods and being notably overweight, you are likely to develop type 2 diabetes within five years. That is the dangerous stage of diabetes, so it should be carefully avoided.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is a serious form of this disease, and its exact cause remains unknown. It is believed to be either an inherited disorder or caused by a virus.
This type of diabetes causes a person’s pancreas to release very small amounts of insulin or no insulin at all. Without insulin, sugar levels will continually build up in the bloodstream, causing severe side effects.
Insulin is a hormone that enables glucose to enter our cells for energy. We get glucose from the foods we eat after the food is processed by the digestive system.
This form of the disease was previously called juvenile diabetes. It usually appears during childhood or adolescence, and it requires daily insulin injections to stay alive because the pancreas is not providing the proper insulin support.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease, and it can develop at any age in a person’s life – but it usually affects people over the age of 40. With type 2 diabetes, the body doesn’t use insulin properly, even though it still produces it.
This form develops over many years, and symptoms may not be obvious. With proper nutrition, daily exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight, the development of type 2 diabetes can be delayed and even prevented.
Complications from Diabetes
Having diabetes dramatically raises the risk of many cardiovascular problems, such as a heart attack or a stroke. The presence of excessive sugar in the bloodstream can lead to nerve damage, especially in the legs – which, if left untreated, can cause a loss of all sensation in the affected limbs.
Complications often affect the feet and legs of diabetic patients. This can lead to the need for amputation of the foot, leg, or both in order to keep the diabetic person alive.
Kidney damage can also be caused by diabetes. Severe kidney damage can lead to kidney failure, which may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Diabetes can damage the blood vessels in the retina, potentially leading to issues in the eye. This can cause glaucoma, cataracts, and even blindness.
Family Doctor in Wellington and Royal Palm Beach
Our skilled and experienced medical team at Advanced Medical Clinic is here to assist you in all of your health care needs. We practice family and internal medicine – and if you have any risk factors for diabetes, we can provide a full evaluation and treatment if necessary.
Call us at (561) 434-1935 today, or request an appointment online right now. Let us help put your mind at ease about diabetes.