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Diabetes

Look For These Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes:
Many of the signs of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are similar. In both, there is too much glucose in the blood and not enough in the cells of your body. High glucose levels in Type I are due to a lack of insulin because the insulin producing cells have been destroyed. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body's cells become resistant to insulin that is being produced. Either way, your cells aren't getting the glucose that they need, and your body lets you know by giving you these signs and symptoms.

Frequent trips to the bathroom:
Are you visiting the bathroom much more lately? Does it seem like you urinate all day long? Urination becomes more frequent when there is too much glucose in the blood. If insulin is nonexistent or ineffective, the kidneys can't filter glucose back to the blood. They become overwhelmed and try to draw extra water out of the blood to dilute the glucose. This keeps your bladder full and it keeps you running to the bathroom.

Unquenchable Thirst:
If it feels like you can't get enough water and you're drinking much more than usual, it could be a sign of diabetes, especially if it seems to go hand in hand with frequent urination. If your body is pulling extra water out of your blood and you're running to the bathroom more, you will become dehydrated and feel the need to drink more to replace the water that you are losing.

Losing Weight Without Trying:
This symptom is more noticeable with Type 1 diabetes. In Type 1, the pancreas stops making insulin, possibly due to a viral attack on pancreas cells or because an autoimmune response makes the body attack the insulin producing cells. The body desperately looks for an energy source because the cells aren't getting glucose. It starts to break down muscle tissue and fat for energy. Type 2 happens gradually with increasing insulin resistance so weight loss is not as noticeable.

Weakness and Fatigue:

It's that bad boy glucose again. Glucose from the food we eat travels into the bloodstream where insulin is supposed to help it transition into the cells of our body. The cells use it to produce the energy we need to live. When the insulin isn't there or if the cells don't react to it anymore, then the glucose stays outside the cells in the bloodstream. The cells become energy starved and you feel tired and run down.

Tingling or Numbness in Your Hands, Legs or Feet:
This symptom is called neuropathy. It occurs gradually over time as consistently high glucose in the blood damages the nervous system, particularly in the extremities. Type 2 diabetes is a gradual onset, and people are often not aware that they have it. Therefore, blood sugar might have been high for more than a few years before a diagnosis is made. Nerve damage can creep up without our knowledge. Neuropathy can very often improve when tighter blood glucose control is achieved.

Other Signs and Symptoms That Can Occur:
Blurred vision, skin that is dry or itchy, frequent infections or cuts and bruises that take a long time to heal are also signs that something is amiss. Again, when these signs are associated with diabetes, they are the result of high glucose levels in the body. If you notice any of the above signs, schedule an appointment with your doctor. He or she will be able to tell you if you have reason to be concerned about a diagnosis of diabetes.

What It Is:
Type 1 diabetes is a completely different disease than Type 2. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease of the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. Scientists believe that it may be a virus that triggers the immune system to attack the cells and permanently destroy them. The pancreas can no longer make the insulin necessary to transport sugar from the blood into the other cells of the body for energy. Sugar builds up in the blood and over time can damage internal organs and blood vessels.

Insulin and Blood Sugar:
What does this mean to the person who is diagnosed? Someone who has Type 1 diabetes must take insulin everyday to survive. It becomes a delicate balance of finding the right amount of insulin necessary to keep the blood sugar level as close to normal as possible. The person with diabetes has to check their blood sugar levels often and then inject themselves with the correct amount of insulin to counteract the amount of sugar. This mimics the action of the pancreas.

Warning Signs for Type 1:
This can be an overwhelming process for the newly diagnosed person, especially since Type 1 diabetes typically strikes children and young adults, although adults age 40 and older, can get Type 1. The onset of the disease happens quickly. As the insulin stops being produced and the blood sugar rises, this causes hyperglycemia. Several warning signs appear. Increased thirst, increased urination, fatigue, weight loss and blurred vision are a few of the most noticeable signs of Type 1 diabetes.

Testing Blood Sugar:
Frequently testing blood sugar levels helps to let you know how much insulin you will need to keep your levels as near to normal as possible. The usual times to test are: before meals, before bedtime and maybe one to two hours after meals or a big snack. Also test before you exercise because exercise will lower blood sugar also, and you don't want your blood sugar to drop too low either. This is called hypoglycemia.

When and What to Eat:

For diabetes, when you eat is as important as what you eat. Eating meals that are approximately the same size and combination of carbohydrates and fats at the same time everyday helps to keep blood sugar regular and predictable. The best diet is one that is low in fat, low in salt and low in added sugars. Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables are preferable over simple carbohydrates like sugary soft drinks and and candy.

Living a Healthy Life:
Until the 1920's, when insulin was first discovered, people usually died from Type 1 diabetes. Today with all the advances of medicine that are available, a person diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes can live a very normal, long life. There are many adjustments that need to made and skills that need to be learned, but these can be incorporated into a daily routine, and can become just as automatic as brushing your teeth. Working with your doctors and a nutritionist will give you the tools you need.

Diabetes affects nearly 21 million Americans. Up to 95% of all people diagnosed with the disease have type 2 diabetes. Although type 2 diabetes is not always caused by obesity, being overweight is a risk factor for developing the disease.
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes:
1. Obesity
2. Poor diet
3. Sedentary lifestyle
4. Increased age - 21% of people over 60 have diabetes
5. Family history - Diabetes tends to run in families
6. Ethnicity - Diabetes is more common in the African-American, Native American, Latino, Pacific Islander and Asian-American populations
7. History of metabolic syndrome
8. History of gestational diabetes

How Does High Blood Glucose Happen?
Food is broken down into glucose during digestion. The glucose is released into the blood and the digestion process activates the pancreas to release insulin, which helps the glucose enter the cells of the body where it's used for energy. When someone is resistant to the effects of insulin, the glucose keeps circulating in the blood and doesn't reach the body's cells. This causes the body to try to get rid of the glucose in other ways.
Symptoms:
1. Frequent urination
2. Increased thirst
3. Unplanned weight loss
4. Weakness and fatigue
5. Numbness or tingling in hands, legs or feet
6. Blurred vision
7. Dry, itchy skin
8. Frequent infections
9. Slow healing of cuts and bruises


Complications:
1. Neuropathy - nerve damage, especially in extremities
2. Nephropathy - kidney damage, kidney failure
3. Retinopathy - vision problems, blindness
4. Cardiovascular Disease - heart disease and increased risk of strokes
5. Erectile dysfunction in men and decreased desire in both men and women
6. Depression
7. Amputation

How Do I Know If I Have Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes often does not have any noticeable symptoms, and you may not know that you have it. Regular check-ups with your physician and some basic blood tests will help you find out early in the disease if you have it. Early detection helps you to get control of your blood sugars. If your blood sugar is controlled, then your risk for complications is reduced. Diagnosis includes a fasting blood glucose test and an oral glucose tolerance test.
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