What is diabetes?
- Diabetes is poor or no insulin production by the body, causing high blood sugar levels that damage vital organs.
- Some people are born with diabetes (type 1), but diabetes is often acquired later in life (type 2).
How important is insulin?
- People with diabetes have trouble converting food to energy.
- Food normally breaks down into sugars that are carried by the blood cells through the body.
- The body uses a hormone called insulin to help them process this blood sugar into energy. People with diabetes don't use this insulin property. The amount of sugar in their blood increases, while their cells starve from lack of energy.
What are the health consequence of diabetes?
- Over time, high blood sugar levels caused by diabetes damage the body's nerves and blood vessels.
- This damage leads to complications such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, gum infections, and amputation.
- Diabetes can eventually be fatal.
What are some of the symptoms of diabetes?
- Increased thirst, increased hunger, fatigue.
- Increased urination, especially at night.
- Weight loss, blurred vision, sores that don't heal.
Who is most at risk for diabetes?
- Anyone can develop diabetes, but African-Americans and Hispanics are especially at risk of developing the disease.
- Diabetes can run in families. If you have a family member with diabetes, your risk is higher.
- If you are overweight, exercise very little, have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, you are at risk.
- Your doctor can test you for diabetes.
How can I keep from developing diabetes?
- Reach and maintain a reasonable body weight.
- Make wise food choices by limiting intake of fats and sugary foods.
- Be physically active each day, even if it means just taking a 30-minute walk.
- Follow your doctor's recommendations.