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July 29, 2022 | General Wellness

4 Things to Know About Diabetes

Clipboard that says diabetes with glucose monitor and insulin

Diabetes is a chronic health condition that currently impacts 37.3 million U.S. adults1. However, even though so many people are impacted, 1 in 5 don’t even know they have it1. While diabetes is a common chronic condition, people often have questions about the differences in types of diabetes, the symptoms of diabetes, how diabetes is diagnosed, and more.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes affects how your body turns food into energy1. Most of the food you eat is broken down into sugar (also called glucose) and released into your bloodstream. From there, when blood sugar goes up, your pancreas gets a signal to release insulin. Insulin acts like a key to let blood sugar into your body’s cells for energy use. People who have diabetes have a problem with insulin; either their body doesn’t make enough insulin or it can’t use the insulin it makes as well as it should1.

What are the types of diabetes?

Did you know that there are three types of diabetes?

  • Type 1 Diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is thought to be caused by an autoimmune reaction where cells in the pancreas that make insulin are destroyed. Type 1 diabetes is less common than type 2 diabetes and impacts about 5-10% of people with diabetes. Additionally, Type 1 diabetes can happen at any age but is most commonly diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults2.
  • Type 2 Diabetes. Type 2 diabetes means that your cells don’t respond as they should to insulin, which is also called insulin resistance.
  • Gestational Diabetes. Gestational diabetes can develop during pregnancy in women who don’t already have diabetes. An estimated 2% to 10% of pregnancies are affected by gestational diabetes each year3.

There is also a condition called prediabetes. Prediabetes is a condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Approximately 96 million American adults have prediabetes. However, lifestyle changes such as eating healthier or exercising more may prevent or delay a type 2 diabetes diagnosis4.

What are the signs of diabetes?

In general, the symptoms of diabetes include5:

  • Frequent urination (often at night)
  • Very thirsty
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Increased hunger
  • Blurry vision
  • Numb or tingling hands or feet
  • Tired
  • Very dry skin
  • Sores that heal slowly
  • More infections than usual

There are some additional symptoms that you may experience depending on the type of diabetes5.

  • Type 1 diabetes may have additional symptoms including nausea, vomiting or stomach pains. Symptoms typically present in a few weeks or months.
  • Type 2 diabetes typically takes longer to develop with symptoms occurring over several years. Some people with type 2 diabetes show no symptoms at all.
  • Gestational diabetes typically doesn’t have any additional symptoms.

Various risk factors can also contribute to diabetes6.

  • Because type 1 diabetes is thought to be caused by an immune reaction, the risk factors aren’t as clear compared to type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. Family history is the largest risk factor, related to having a parent, brother or sister with type 1 diabetes.
  • Type 2 diabetes contains more risk factors as it’s generally acquired later in life. Factors include:
    • Being overweight
    • Family history (parent, brother or sister) with type 2 diabetes
    • Limited physical activity (less than 3 times a week)
    • Previously having gestational diabetes
  • Gestational diabetes risk factors include:
    • Having gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
    • Have given birth to a baby who weighed over 9 pounds
    • Being overweight
    • Family history (parent, brother or sister) with type 2 diabetes
    • Having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

How is diabetes diagnosed?

Diabetes, prediabetes, and gestational diabetes are all diagnosed by a blood test. The blood tests measures your blood glucose levels to see if they are too high7. For gestational diabetes, pregnant women complete a one-hour glucose challenge which requires drinking a glucose mixture, waiting for roughly an hour, and then getting a blood draw.

If your healthcare provider requests that you get blood work for your glucose levels, Scarlet® is able to meet you where you are (at home or work) to complete the blood draw.

Sources

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/diabetes.html
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/what-is-type-1-diabetes.html
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/gestational.html
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/prediabetes.html
  5. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/symptoms.html
  6. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/risk-factors.html
  7. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/tests-diagnosis

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