The Balancing Act Called Diabetes



What exactly is diabetes?

The best layman’s definition I’ve ever read is from the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse:

“Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism—the way our bodies use digested food for growth and energy. Most of the food we eat is broken down into glucose, the form of sugar in the blood. Glucose is the main source of fuel for the body.

After digestion, glucose passes into the bloodstream, where it is used by cells for growth and energy. For glucose to get into cells, insulin must be present. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, a large gland behind the stomach.

When we eat, the pancreas automatically produces the right amount of insulin to move glucose from blood into our cells. In people with diabetes, however, the pancreas either produces little or no insulin, or the cells do not respond appropriately to the insulin that is produced. Glucose builds up in the blood, overflows into the urine, and passes out of the body in the urine. Thus, the body loses its main source of fuel even though the blood contains large amounts of glucose.”

Diabetes untreated causes the same type of symptoms no matter which type you have:

  • extreme thirst
  • frequent need to urinate
  • blurred vision
  • lethargy

The Four Types of Diabetes Per the American Diabetes Association:

  1. Type 1 Diabetes-the body produces little insulin or no insulin-previously called juvenile onset- 5 to 10% of Americans have this type.
  2. Type 2 Diabetes–the body is insulin resistant and insulin deficient-previously called adult onset-most Americans are Type 2
  3. Gestational Diabetes-the body produces no insulin-only appears during pregnancy and goes away after pregnancy-affects 4% of all pregnant women
  4. Pre-Diabetes-occurs when a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. 54 million Americans have pre-diabetes.

A whopping 7 % of American have diabetes. That’s 14. 6 million Americans and it is estimated that another 6.2 million people have the disease and have not been diagnosed.

Are You At Risk For Diabetes?

Risk Factors :

The risk factors for Type I diabetes are still under research.

Per the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, risk factors for Type II diabetes include:

  • Age-over 45
  • Obese-check the BMI chart
  • High blood pressure
  • History of gestational diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • History of polycystic ovary syndrome
  • History of cardiovascular disease
  • Inactivity
  • Ethnic background: Alaska Native, American Indian, African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American, or Pacific Islander =increased risk
  • Having a parent, brother or sister with diabetes
  • History of metabolic disorder
  • Previous impaired Glucose Tolerance or Fasting Glucose Tolerance Test

Could you be in the undiagosed group of 6.2 million Americans?

Take the American Diabetes Association RISK TEST to find out!

How is Diabetes Diagnosed?

Besides assessment of your symptoms your physician will order a Fasting Blood Glucose Test and or a Glucose Tolerance Test.

The American Diabetes Association recommendations for diagnosing diabetes state that patients should be told they have diabetes if they have:

  • Fasting plasma glucose is above 126 mg/dl.
  • Diabetes symptoms exist and casual plasma glucose is equal to or above 200 mg/dl.
  • Plasma glucose is equal to or above 200 mg/dl during an oral glucose tolerance test.

Resources:

Mayo Clinic: Video: How Diabetes Affects Your Blood Sugar

The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse

The American Diabetes Association

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Comments

  1. Thanks for stopping by Sandra. If you have any insights to share or anything you want me to research for a future blog, please holler.

  2. SandraV says:

    Thanks for the great explanation of what diabetes is. I have type II and have been diagnosed 3 years. I look forward to keeping up with current information from your website. I am also looking forward to speaking with others who deal with the ups and downs of battling the disease.
    Thanks.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.
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