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Understanding Diabetes

The Three Types of Diabetes

Controlling Blood Sugar is the Key to Healthy Living

There are three types of diabetes -- Type 1, Type 2, and gestational. Learn the causes, the symptoms, and the best ways to stay healthy.

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Anyone can get diabetes. There are 24 million children and adults living with diabetes, and about 18 million that are undiagnosed. There are 3 types of diabetes. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease, sometimes referred to as juvenile diabetes. In most forms of Type 1 diabetes, the body thinks the cells that make insulin in the pancreas are germs, so the body destroys those cells. It’s not known why this happens but the result is that the pancreas stops producing any insulin. Type 1 diabetics usually develop symptoms quickly; the condition is often diagnosed in an emergency setting. The symptoms to look for are: - Fatigue - Increased thirst - Increased urination - Nausea - Vomiting - Weight loss, even though they are eating more Type 1 diabetes usually develops in children and young adults, but people of any age can get it. 95% of diagnosed diabetics have Type 2; the remaining 5% have Type 1. Type 2 diabetes develops when your body’s cells are unable to take in and process insulin. You develop what is called insulin resistance. In some cases your body may not be able to produce enough insulin to get the needed glucose into your cells. Type 2 diabetes develops slowly and some people can become used to their high blood sugar levels and experience no symptoms at all. But some of the more common symptoms are: frequent urination; extreme thirst; unexplained weight loss; extreme tiredness; frequent infections, especially of the skin, gums, vagina, or bladder; blurred vision; cuts and bruises that are slow to heal; moodiness or irritability; increased appetite; tingling or numbness in hands, legs, or feet; and dry, itchy skin. The third type of diabetes is gestational diabetes. This affects about 7% of pregnant women. Women who have gestational diabetes have developed insulin resistance. Their blood sugar levels are higher than normal. These levels often return to normal after delivery. Women who have had gestational diabetes are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life, and are more likely to have gestational diabetes in future pregnancies. There is no way to prevent type 1 diabetes. Maintaining a healthy weight and staying physically active may help you from developing type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. Testing your blood sugar, also known as blood glucose, is an important part of your preventive care. A fasting blood glucose level test is often used to diagnose diabetes. If your reading is higher than 126 on 2 separate tests, it’s considered a diabetes diagnosis. If your levels are between 100 and 126, it’s a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes. An alternative test is hemoglobin A1C, which does not require fasting. If your hemoglobin A1C is 5.7% to 6.4%, you are pre-diabetic. If it’s 6.5% or above, you are diabetic. By controlling your blood sugar levels, it is possible to live a healthy life as a diabetic. It’s important to check your blood sugar, take your medication, eat a healthy diet, stay active, and work with your doctor to control your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels if they are elevated. For more information on diabetes, call a health coach.