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Understanding diabetes to keep your risk under control

November 08, 2017

Millions of people in the US are living with diabetes or prediabetes and don’t even know they have the condition, according to the National Diabetes Statistics Report, which comes out every two years.

More than 100 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes, the latter a term meaning blood sugar is high but not high enough to be categorized officially as type 2 diabetes. Based on reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one-quarter of adults (7.2 million people) who had diabetes weren't aware they had it, and just 11.6 percent with prediabetes were aware they did.

That’s why educating yourself on diabetes -- the types, signs/symptoms, risk factors -- is essential for keeping the disease under control. Yassin Mustafa, MD, an endocrinologist with Kettering Physician Network, who specializes in diabetes management, helps to break down some basic information to help you gain a better understanding about diabetes.

Types of diabetes

  • Type 1: Previously referred to as juvenile diabetes, this type typically is diagnosed in children and young adults. Only five percent of the people with diabetes have this form of the disease. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin.
  • Type 2: This is the most common form of diabetes. If you have this type, your body does not use insulin properly, which is called insulin resistance. At first, your pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. Over time it isn't able to keep up and can't make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose at normal levels.
  • Gestational: This type of diabetes develops only during pregnancy and usually disappears upon delivery, but increases the risk that the mother will develop diabetes later in life.
  • Other types of diabetes: Less common types of diabetes are caused by genetic conditions, medications, pancreatic disorders, infections, and other diseases.

Signs/symptoms

“Most cases of type 2 diabetes have no symptoms,” said Dr. Mustafa. However, when blood sugar is extremely high, Dr. Mustafa says the following symptoms can be present:

  • Urinating frequently
  • Feeling excessive thirst
  • Feeling excessive hunger, even though you’re eating
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurred vision  
  • Cuts or bruises that are slow to heal
  • Weight loss, even though you are eating more (type 1)
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands and feet (type 2)

Gestational diabetes

  • Women with this type of diabetes often have no symptoms which is why it’s important for at-risk women to be tested at the proper time during pregnancy.

Prevention/management

“Type 2 diabetes is a preventable disease through lifestyle interventions,” said Dr. Mustafa. His recommendations include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight and BMI
  • Regular exercise -- five times per week for 30 minutes per session
  • Healthy diet low in refined grains and simple sugars, high in fibers, low fat, rich in fruits and vegetables

If you’re uncertain about your risk of diabetes, click here to take the Kettering Health Network Diabetes & Nutrition Center’s online diabetes risk quiz.

For more information about Kettering Health Network’s Diabetes & Nutrition Center and the many services they provide, click here.