What is Diabetes?
Diabetes can strike anyone, from any walk of life.
And it does – in numbers that are dramatically increasing. In the last decade, the cases of people living with diabetes jumped almost 50 percent – to more than 29 million Americans.
Worldwide, it afflicts more than 380 million people. And the World Health Organization estimates that by 2030, that number of people living with diabetes will more than double.
Today, diabetes takes more lives than AIDS and breast cancer combined — claiming the life of 1 American every 3 minutes. It is a leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, amputations, heart failure and stroke.
Different types of diabetes.
The more severe form of diabetes is type 1 or insulin-dependent diabetes. It’s sometimes called “juvenile” diabetes, because type 1 diabetes usually develops in children and teenagers, though it can develop at any age.
With type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks part of its own pancreas. Scientists are not sure why. But the immune system mistakenly sees the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas as foreign, and destroys them. This attack is known as “autoimmune” disease.
Insulin serves as a “key” to open your cells, to allow the glucose to enter — and allow you to use the glucose for energy. Without insulin, there is no “key.” So, the sugar stays — and builds up– in the blood. The result: the body’s cells starve from the lack of glucose. So, a person with type 1 treats the disease by taking insulin injections. This outside source of insulin now serves as the “key” — bringing glucose to the body’s cells.
The challenge with this treatment is that it’s often not possible to know precisely how much insulin to take. The amount is based on many factors, including:
- Emotions and general health
If you take too much, then your body burns too much glucose — and your blood sugar can drop to a dangerously low level. This is a condition called hypoglycemia, which, if untreated, can be potentially life-threatening.
If you take too little insulin, your body can again be starved of the energy it needs, and your blood sugar can rise to a dangerously high level — a condition called hyperglycemia. This also increases the chance of long-term complications.
Type 2 diabetes, once known as adult-onset or noninsulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition that affects the way your body metabolizes sugar (glucose), your body’s important source of fuel.
With type 2 diabetes, your body either resists the effects of insulin — a hormone that regulates the movement of sugar into your cells — or doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain a normal glucose level.
More common in adults, type 2 diabetes increasingly affects children as childhood obesity increases. There’s no cure for type 2 diabetes, but you may be able to manage the condition by eating well, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight. If diet and exercise aren’t enough to manage your blood sugar well, you also may need diabetes medications or insulin therapy.
- Gum disease and infections
- Vision problems, including a risk of cataracts, glaucoma, and eye infections; a condition called diabetic retinopathycan lead to vision loss or blindness
- Neuropathy, or nerve damage, that can cause pain or numbness in your hands and feet
- Circulatory problems that can eventually lead to amputations (feet, legs)
- Heart disease
- Kidney problems
- High blood pressure
Fast Facts – Data and Statistics About Diabetes
Approximately 1.25 million American children and adults have type 1 diabetes.
85.2% of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese
The prevalence of diagnosed diabetes in the U.S. increased by 382% from 1988 to 2014
Diabetes kills more Americans every year than AIDS and breast cancer combined
A person with diagnosed diabetes at age 50 dies 6 years earlier than a counterpart without diabetes
There are several ways to manage your health and diabetes here are 4 simple steps that will help you.
4 Steps to Manage Your Diabetes for Life
- Take classes to learn more about living with diabetes. To find a class, check with your health care team, hospital, or area health clinic. You can also search online.
- Join a support group — in-person or online — to get peer support with managing your diabetes.
- Read about diabetes online. Go to National Diabetes Education Program.
· Talk to your health care team about how to manage your A1C, Blood pressure, and Cholesterol. This can help lower your chances of having a heart attack, stroke, or other diabetes problems.
· It is common to feel overwhelmed, sad, or angry when you are living with diabetes. You may know the steps you should take to stay healthy, but have trouble sticking with your plan over time. This section has tips on how to cope with your diabetes, eat well, and be active.
· See your health care team at least twice a year to find and treat any problems early.
At each visit, be sure you have a:
- blood pressure check
- foot check
- weight check
- review of your self-care plan
Two times each year, have an:
- A1C test. It may be checked more often if it is over 7.
Once each year, be sure you have a:
- cholesterol test
- complete foot exam
- dental exam to check teeth and gums
- dilated eye exam to check for eye problems
- flu shot
- urine and a blood test to check for kidney problems
Things to Remember:
- You are the most important member of your health care team.
- Follow the four steps in this booklet to help you learn how to manage your diabetes.
- Learn how to reach your diabetes ABC goals.
- Ask your health care team for help.