Diabetes: Symptoms, risks, and prevention

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States.

Diabetes is a long-lasting health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. With diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use it as well as it should.

Most of the food you eat is broken down into sugar (also called glucose) and released into your bloodstream. When your blood sugar goes up, it signals your pancreas to release insulin. Insulin acts like a key to let the blood sugar into your body’s cells for use as energy.

If you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use the insulin it makes as well as it should. When there isn’t enough insulin or cells stop responding to insulin, too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream.

Over time, that can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.

Types & symptoms

Type 1 diabetes is thought to be caused by an autoimmune reaction (the body attacks itself by mistake) that stops your body from making insulin. Approximately 5-10% of the people who have diabetes have type 1.

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes often develop quickly. It’s usually diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults. Currently, no one knows how to prevent type 1 diabetes.

People who have type 1 diabetes may also have nausea, vomiting, or stomach pains. Type 1 diabetes symptoms can develop in just a few weeks or months and can be severe.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body doesn’t use insulin well and can’t keep blood sugar at normal levels. About 90-95% of people with diabetes have type 2. It develops over many years and is usually diagnosed in adults; however more children, teens, and young adults are developing type 2 diabetes.

With healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy food, losing weight, and being active Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed.

Some people don’t notice any symptoms at all. Because symptoms are hard to spot, it’s important to know the risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Make sure to visit your doctor if you have any of them.

Gestational diabetes develops in pregnant women who have never had diabetes. If you have gestational diabetes, your baby could be at higher risk for health problems.

Gestational diabetes usually goes away after your baby is born but increases your risk for type 2 diabetes later in life. Your baby is more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life too. Gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) usually doesn’t have any symptoms.

If you’re pregnant, your doctor will test you for gestational diabetes between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy.

Symptoms & risk factors

Diabetes symptoms may include an increase in thirst, urinating a lot, lose of weight without trying, increased hunger, blurry vision, dry skin, feeling tired, numbness or tingling in your hands or feet, sores or wounds that heal slowly. If you have any of the following diabetes symptoms, see your doctor.

Risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes can include a history of prediabetes, being over the age of 45, overweight, having a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes, or ever had gestational diabetes, are physically active less than 3 times a week.

There isn’t a cure yet for diabetes, but losing weight, eating healthy food, and being active can help. Knowing diabetes risk factors and taking medicine as directed, you can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes with lifestyle changes.

Diabetes self-management education, support, and keeping your health care appointments can reduce the impact of diabetes on your Life! Please see the American Diabetes Association — https://www.diabetes.org/, for further information .

Source: Centers for Disease Control Prevention.

Michaella Quallen is with the Clinton County Health District.


By Michaella Quallen