Diabetes currently affects 7% of the United States population, or 20.8 million Americans, and more than half are women. Diabetes is the 6th leading cause of death today, and a large percentage of diabetics don’t even know that they have the disease.
Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a very important hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy-the energy we need for daily life. Although the cause of diabetes is unknown, certain genetic and environmental factors do seem to increase the likelihood of the disease. These include obesity and lack of exercise.
Diabetes is a disease that develops over time, and your health care provider can help you find out whether you are likely to become a diabetic. The Fasting Plasma Glucose Test (FPG) or the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) is used to tell if someone has pre-diabetes or diabetes. If she returns a blood glucose level above a certain amount she has the disease.
The major types of diabetes are type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes and pre-diabetes. Type 1 diabetes results when the body fails to produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes results when the body fails to properly use insulin. Most American diabetics have Type 2 diabetes. Pregnant women who have high blood sugar levels during pregnancy have gestational diabetes. Those with pre-diabetes have higher than normal blood sugar levels, but not to the point where they reach the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
Common symptoms of diabetes include: frequent urination, excessive thirst, unexplained weight loss, extreme hunger, sudden vision changes, tingling or numbness in the hands or feet, exhaustion much of the time, very dry skin, sores that are slow to heal and more infections than usual. Diabetics may have some of these symptoms or none at all.
If you have any questions about whether you might have diabetes or be at risk to get it be sure to consult you health care provider.