Diabetes in America

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People that have diabetes do not properly use or produce a hormone called insulin. Your body uses insulin to convert food and sugar into energy. In some cases of diabetes the body actually has built up an immunity to insulin, and in other cases it does not produce enough. More than 20 million people in the United States have diabetes. This accounts for nearly 7% of the population.

There are many symptoms of diabetes, but one of the most common is extreme urinary output and excessive thirst. Distorted or fuzzy vision, inexplicable weight loss, slow healing wounds, and fatigue are also symptoms of diabetes. Those that have type 1 diabetes will typically see these symptoms develop rather rapidly, but those that have type 2 diabetes will likely see a much slower onset of symptoms. The weight loss and exhaustion associated with diabetes is consistent even in cases where normal eating and sleeping patterns exist.

Glucose, or sugar, is a carbohydrate your body uses as energy. In diabetes, because the body’s insulin is not properly breaking down the glucose, a high level of glucose is often present in the blood stream. Since there is so much glucose in the blood, glucose in the urine is not used. The glucose in the urine causes the kidney to begin reabsorbing water. This is what results in the frequent urination and also causes thirst or dehydration. In some cases those with undiagnosed diabetes often have been drinking drinks that are high in sugar, which only perpetuates the effects of diabetes on the body. Over an extended period of time, the high levels of glucose will cause the eyes lens to change shape, which results in the eye problems that are symptomatic of diabetes.

Diabetes is often discovered after the relatively quick onset of these symptoms. Common health screenings, like those taken during an annual physical, are also often used when diagnosing a person with diabetes. There are some medical events that can be caused by diabetes, so frequently when these events occur the doctor will check for diabetes. This includes things like heart attacks, strokes, foot ulcers, or eye problems. A simple blood test that checks glucose levels is something that should be done periodically to check for diabetes.

Genetics play a hand in type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It appears that type 1 diabetes is as a result of the body’s susceptibility to infections, chemicals, and stress or other environmental variables. A very small percent of people develop diabetes very early and this is thought to be caused by a mutated gene. Type 2 diabetes is seen to be inherited much more frequently. Other factors, like obesity, can also increase the risk of diabetes.

Diabetes is a disease that affects many millions of Americans each year. While there is currently no complete cure for diabetes, it can generally be controlled. Much of what is done to control diabetes is done by the patient. This involves things like properly exercising, maintaining a healthy diet, using medication, and constant blood sugar monitoring. Since those with diabetes are more likely to develop foot ulcers, many people use diabetic socks, which reduce moisture.

If you have never had a blood sugar test, if it has been a while since your last test, or if you have experienced any of these symptoms, it is probably a good idea to have your blood sugar checked.

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