Take control of your diabetes
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disorder in which your blood sugar (blood glucose) levels are too high and your body can’t manage your insulin levels to keep those levels in check. Glucose (a sugar molecule) comes from the foods you eat and what you drink. Insulin is the hormone that helps turn that sugar into energy.
If you have a medical emergency, call 911 or visit the NMC Health Medical Center Emergency Department.
Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
There are two types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Those with type 1 diabetes don’t make insulin and oftentimes have to take insulin shots or live with an insulin pump. People with type 2 diabetes make insulin, but their body doesn’t use the hormone to help manage their blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes is more common.
Some people also suffer from prediabetes, which means their blood sugars are high, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. If you have prediabetes, your risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases.
About one-quarter of people who have diabetes don’t even know they have the disease. It’s always a good idea to talk about your risk with your doctor. There are many risk factors of diabetes. To determine your risk, take this short one-minute quiz from the American Diabetes Association. Even if you’re low risk now, that could change over time. Talk with your doctor regularly about your risk of diabetes so you can have a plan to manage it should develop later in life.
Pregnant women can sometimes be at risk for developing gestational diabetes. Even if you don’t have a history or any risk factors for diabetes, you should be tested for gestational diabetes. This happens between weeks 24 and 28 of pregnancy with a glucose challenge test. You can expect to drink a sugary beverage and have your blood glucose levels measured through a blood test an hour after finishing your drink.
Gestational diabetes is diagnosed for the first time during pregnancy and can affect anyone who is pregnant. Scientists and researchers aren’t sure what causes gestational diabetes, but it can have an effect on your baby.
Because the insulin in your body doesn’t regulate your glucose levels and cannot cross through the placenta, your baby is at risk for having a higher blood sugar. This can lead to your baby growing too big, too quickly, causing issues during delivery such as their shoulders getting stuck. They can also develop breathing problems after birth.
Gestational diabetes can raise your baby’s insulin levels. When children are born with extra insulin it may increase their chances of obesity and developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
Should I be tested for diabetes?
If you are showing the following symptoms of diabetes, you should ask your doctor if you need to be tested for the disease:
- You’re thirsty all the time
- Your skin is dry
- You’re feeling extremely tired all the time
- Your vision is blurry
- You’re hungry all the time
- You’re having to pee a lot at night
- You’re losing weight without trying
- You have a tingly feeling in your hands or feet
You might not have any symptoms, but still have risk factors for diabetes. Make sure you talk to your doctor about your family history, especially if you someone in your family has diabetes.
To determine if you have diabetes, your doctor will order you a blood test called an A1C test. The test can take a snapshot of your blood sugars over the past few months. This test can also find prediabetes. If you find out you have prediabetes, you can adjust your diet and exercise plans to try to delay type 2 diabetes from developing.
Diabetes is a disease that cannot be cured, but you can learn how to manage your diabetes. The disease can make it easier for you get infections as well as affect your nerves, blood vessels, kidneys and eyes.
Diabetes and Genetics
Diabetes is a genetic disease, meaning your risk of getting it is partially based on whether you have family members who had it. If you have type 2 diabetes, your child has a 10-15% higher chance of developing it. If you’re an identical twin and your sibling has diabetes, your chance of getting it is 75%.
While you can’t run from a genetic predisposition for the disease, you can maintain a healthy diet and exercise to delay or prevent it. If you are high risk for developing type 2 diabetes, try exercising at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Pair that with a healthy diet and take care of yourself. According to a study by the Diabetes Prevention Program, doing these things can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by nearly 58%.
Diabetes Support Group
We understand your fear, confusion and frustration when it comes to managing diabetes. We’re here to empower you and answer your questions.
NMC Health offers a free diabetes support group on the second Thursday of each month. The group is hosted by our diabetes educator.
Call our diabetes educator to reserve your spot today!