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Diabetes 101: Understanding the basics of diabetes

According to the Center for Decease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States, 1 in every 10 people are living with diabetes. Shocking numbers, right? Of those, 1 in 5 people live with diabetes and don't know it—certainly, a scary statistic to learn.

Searching through thousands of sites trying to understand diabetes can be overwhelming. Still, whether you are new to diabetes or just want to have more information, this blog post will help you. Let's start with the basics.

What is diabetes?

According to the CDC, diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects the ability of the body to produce insulin or process the insulin the body creates. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body balance out blood sugar, also known as glucose. There isn't a cure for diabetes yet, but there are many ways to prevent it, manage it, and live a healthy life with diabetes.

What are the types of diabetes?

There are many types of diabetes, but here are the most common types and what makes each one different:

  1. Type 1 Diabetes: This type is characterized by the body not producing enough insulin and can develop at any age, although it's often seen in children and young adults. Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, but it can be managed by taking daily shots of insulin.

  2. Type 2 Diabetes: It's the most common type. It's characterized by the body not using insulin properly. This type of diabetes can be seen in children but is most common among adults and older adults. Poor diet and sedentary living are just some of the factors professionals attribute to this type of diabetes.

  3. Gestational Diabetes: This type of diabetes develops during the pregnancy, and the expecting mother did not have a diabetes diagnosis before. It usually goes away after birth, but there is an increased risk for the mother of developing type 2 diabetes in the future. Like the other common types of diabetes, this one is also manageable. And with early detection and treatment, any prolonged effects in the mother's and baby's life are extremely low.

  4. Diabetes from other causes: Diabetes can also be the result of other conditions like:

    • A pancreas disease, like cystic fibrosis or pancreatitis.

    • Syndromes like Neonatal diabetes and Maturity-Onset Diabetes of the Young (MODY) are just an example of many.

    • Drug or chemical induced diabetes can be seen after an organ transplant and when an extended prescription drug treatment is implemented.

What are the signs to look for? There is not a list of symptoms that will be present among all types of diabetes. For people with Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, there might not be any symptoms. However, according to The Mayo Clinic, these are some signs you can be on the lookout for:

  • Increased thirst

  • Frequent urination

  • Extreme hunger

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Presence of ketones in the urine

  • Fatigue

  • Irritability

  • Blurred vision

  • Slow-healing sores

  • Frequent infections, such as gums or skin infections and vaginal infections

Remember that these signs are not set in stone and when in doubt, we recommend that you visit your doctor for a complete checkup.

Is there anything else I should know about diabetes?

Living with diabetes can be challenging; from frequent blood sugar checks and daily insulin injections to the financial strain of treatment, it could certainly feel overwhelming. But all you need to do is take action and know that you are not alone.

Diabetes is a serious condition, and health complications can be significant, like blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, or loss of toes, feet, or legs. But staying proactive with treatment, healthy eating, and being more active can go a long way with effectively managing the condition. If you want to learn more about diabetes and how to manage it, is an excellent source of information.

Do you have questions about your diabetes prescription? Talk to our pharmacist or call (832) 582-6933.

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