Today, one in three adults in the US is pre-diabetic, and eight out of ten of those don’t even know it. Don’t be one of them. Know your facts and know your body, so you can protect yourself from developing or worsening long-term chronic disease.
So what is diabetes? In short, it is a condition that causes an inability to produce and regulate insulin throughout the body. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas and secreted into the blood. There, it binds glucose molecules that have been absorbed into the blood through the digestive system. The insulin then carries those molecules to cells throughout the body, so it can be used or stored as fuel. When those cells eventually have too much dietary fat stored over time, they become resistant to insulin. This is known as insulin resistance, which leaves glucose to stay in the bloodstream, putting you at risk for high blood pressure, kidney disease, neuropathy and other chronic conditions.
To rebalance insulin and blood sugar levels in the body, it may take both lifestyle changes and medication to address the production and uptake of insulin in the body.
What is pre-diabetes?
Pre-diabetes is a condition where your blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. If you are diagnosed with pre-diabetes, the good news is that you can introduce lifestyle changes to reverse and reduce your risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
Talk to a nutritionist or lifestyle coach today to make a plan that’s right for you. Living with pre-diabetes doesn’t have to be a burden. It can kick start the lifestyle changes you’ve always thought about, so you can live with peace of mind in your new daily habits. These changes should include more exercise and more balanced meals.
What is type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is a thought to be an autoimmune condition, which causes the body to attack its own cells. In this case, your beta cells, which produce the insulin hormone in your pancreas. You can be tested for type 1 with a simple blood test. If you think you may have type 1, ask your doctor to test for antibodies and ketones, which are indicators.
This type is typically diagnosed in children, teens and young adults but can be diagnosed at any age. It’s thought to be genetically linked and is not directly triggered by lifestyle or diet. Because type 1 cannot be reversed by diet and lifestyle changes, patients will have to manage their blood sugar levels with daily insulin and medication.
Type 1 symptoms can develop over a short period of time and can be severe, so do not hesitate to see your doctor if you think you’ve developed symptoms.
What is type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes with around 90-95% of people with the condition having type 2. Most commonly diagnosed in adults, it can develop over several years due to insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance happens when too much blood sugar enters the bloodstream over a period of time. After a while, the pancreas can not produce enough insulin to manage the blood sugar. According to the CDC it isn’t clear what exactly causes insulin resistance, but contributing factors are family history of diabetes, being overweight and being inactive.
It is possible to combat insulin resistance with diet and exercise. Ideally, you want to move and be active before you are diagnosed with diabetes. Physical activity can make you more sensitive to insulin, and of course help you with weight loss. Some other lifestyle changes like avoiding high blood sugar, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep can help your body fight insulin resistance.
What is gestational diabetes?
While less common, 2-10% of pregnancies in the United States, gestational diabetes can develop in pregnant women that do not presently have diabetes. Like type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance is the cause of gestational diabetes. All pregnant women have some form of insulin resistance during late pregnancy, but some women have insulin resistance prior to becoming pregnant. This increases their chances for gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes does not present itself in symptoms, so it is important to discuss your family history and risk factors with your doctor. Just like type and type 2 diabetes, you will need tests to know for sure if you have it. If you are diagnosed for gestational diabetes, be sure to go to all prenatal appointments, follow your treatment plan and ask your physician what exercises are safe for you to perform.
What are the signs?
- Urinate (pee) a lot, often at night
- Are very thirsty
- Lose weight without trying
- Are very hungry
- Have blurry vision
- Have numb or tingling hands or feet
- Feel very tired
- Have very dry skin
- Have sores that heal slowly
- Have more infections than usual
Where should I go to get tested?
- A1C Test
- Fasting Blood Sugar Test
- Glucose Tolerance Test
- Random Blood Sugar Test
- Glucose Screening Test
All of these tests involve a blood test, but be sure to ask your physician about what each test entails. A fasting blood sugar test requires you not to eat prior to coming in, and glucose tolerance/glucose screening tests both involve drinking a liquid and testing your blood 1-3 hours after consumption.
I’ve been Diagnosed with Diabetes, now what?
Being diagnosed with any type of diabetes can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Your doctor will come up with a treatment plan, and there are several self checks you can perform to ensure you’re meeting your treatment goals. Every day you should be checking your blood sugar, checking your feet for cuts, redness, swelling, sores, or other changes to the skin or nails, taking your prescribed medication (even if you feel fine,) getting 30 minutes of physical activity a day, and eating healthy food to help your blood sugar stay in your target range.
Be sure to ask your doctor how often you should be in for check-ups, and schedule another appointment if you are having trouble meeting your treatment goals.