The CDC says that 9.3% of the population has some form of diabetes. Left unchecked, diabetes can lead to other severe health problems that include heart disease and loss of vision. By diagnosing and aggressively treating diabetes, future health problems can be avoided.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a health issue in which your body does not make or use insulin effectively to move blood sugar to your body's cells. This causes your blood glucose levels to rise, which can cause damage to a number of organs.
Types of diabetes
Diabetes falls into a few common types. Type 1 diabetes, which is also sometimes called juvenile diabetes, is an autoimmune disease that causes your body to attack the pancreas and prevent it from producing insulin. People who have type 1 diabetes need to take insulin injections to compensate for what their body does not produce.
Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, occurs when your body can't produce as much insulin as your body needs in order to run properly. This results in glucose building up in your blood and potentially damaging organs.
The third type of diabetes is gestational diabetes. This is a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy and goes away once the baby is born. Women who have gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later on.
Causes of diabetes
Diabetes can have a number of causes. Type 1 diabetes is thought to be largely related to genes. Many researchers believe that it can be triggered by viral infections during early childhood.
Type 2 diabetes is caused by a combination of hereditary and lifestyle factors. People who have a parent who has type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop the disease themselves. However, a family history does not guarantee that you will develop type 2 diabetes. The onset of diabetes is related to a range of lifestyle choices that include:
- lack of exercise. A sedentary lifestyle can make you more susceptible to type 2 diabetes.
- obesity. People who have BMIs of 25 or more are more likely to become insulin resistant.
- unhealthy meal choices. A diet that is high in fat and low in whole grains, fruits and vegetables increase your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
Symptoms of diabetes
Many people who have diabetes never experience any symptoms. Because of this, many people who have diabetes are undiagnosed until diabetes causes complications.
In other cases, people experience symptoms that include:
- blurry eyesight.
- excessive thirst.
- unusual weight loss.
- excessive hunger.
- foot pain.
- numbness in the feet.
- sores that heal more slowly than usual.
Because so many people can have diabetes without symptoms, it is important to have regular check-ups that include blood glucose screenings.
Complications from diabetes
Left unchecked, diabetes can cause a number of serious health problems. These issues include:
- heart disease.
- kidney disease.
- nerve damage, also called diabetic neuropathy.
- eye problems, also called diabetic retinopathy.
- damage to the feet or legs.
The first line of care for diabetes includes blood sugar monitoring and insulin therapy. Depending on the severity of your diabetes, you may need to take oral insulin tablets or shots. Healthy eating and regular exercise can help.
When diabetes is related to obesity, bariatric surgery can provide full remission. Studies have shown that some bariatric procedures produce a complete reversal of diabetes in anywhere from 80 to 100% of patients.
Have you been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes? We can help. Talk to us about the benefits of bariatric surgery.