What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic health condition in which your body can’t properly convert food into energy. According to the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, more than 30 million Americans are living with diabetes. Many of those aren’t even aware they have diabetes.
To understand diabetes, it helps to think about the role that glucose plays in your body. Every time you eat, your body converts part of that food into glucose, a type of sugar. Glucose travels through your blood to reach your cells, where a hormone called insulin allows glucose to enter.
People with diabetes either don’t produce insulin or can’t make use of the insulin that is produced. The glucose becomes effectively trapped in your blood, where it accumulates. High blood sugar places an enormous strain on numerous systems and organs in your body.
What is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is the most severe form of the disease and usually develops during childhood and early adulthood. Type 1 diabetics have an immune system malfunction that doesn’t allow their body to create insulin. Without treatment, Type 1 diabetes can be fatal.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease and usually develops during adulthood, though the numbers of pediatric cases are rising. Type 2 diabetes is linked to obesity and a sedentary lifestyle.
Some pregnant women develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. The condition usually resolves after childbirth.
What are the health risks associated with diabetes?
Living with diabetes places you at an elevated risk of:
This far from a comprehensive list. Diabetes takes a terrible toll on your body, which is why diagnostics and treatment are so important.
How is diabetes treated?
A combination approach is usually the best way to treat diabetes. You may need supplemental insulin, which is self-administered via injections or an insulin pump. Learning how to monitor your blood sugar is an important part of the process.
Medication might play a role in your treatment path. Some drugs work by stimulating your pancreas to produce more insulin, while others slow glucose release from your liver. There are also medications that change the way your body processed carbohydrates and how your tissues react to insulin.
Lifestyle modifications are perhaps the most powerful way to treat diabetes. Making healthy changes to your diet and increasing your activity level can make a world of difference in your diabetes management.
If you’re ready to try a new approach to treating diabetes, call AllCare Family Medicine and Urgent Care of Arlington or schedule a consultation online today.