In last month’s post (see below) some lifestyle changes you could easily do to decrease your chances of developing this common condition were discussed. A distinction was made between causes that are preventable, and ones that were not.
Heredity and ethnicity are two examples of factors that are not preventable. However, there are several that are. Hopefully, you have started to put these changes into action.
Type 1 diabetes was formerly called “juvenile diabetes” or “insulin dependent diabetes,” because 70 percent of diagnoses occur before a person reaches the age of 30. However, it can be diagnosed at any age.
Only about 10 percent of those diagnosed with diabetes have this type. The insulin producing organ, called the pancreas, produces little to no insulin.
Insulin is the hormone responsible for getting the “sugar” you eat into the cells where it belongs, and not stay in the blood. Symptoms include increased urination, thirst, hunger and weight loss (despite normal or increased eating), blurred vision, frequent infections, and tingling or pain in the hands and/or feet.
If you have type 1 diabetes, you will always need to take insulin, either through injections or through an insulin pump. Insulin, nutrition and activity need to be kept in balance.
You will also need to test your blood sugar level, generally four times a day, to avoid extremely high or low blood sugar. The normal range is between 70 and 100. However, your doctor will determine what range is best for you based on factors specific to you.
Type 2 diabetes was previously called “adult onset diabetes.” However, over the last 20 years, type 2 diabetes has been reported among children and adolescents with increasing frequency.
Ninety percent of those with diabetes have type 2. With type 2 diabetes, your body either resists the effects of insulin or does not produce enough insulin to maintain a normal blood sugar level.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes, which are generally the same as the symptoms of type 1, may come on gradually or not be noticed at all. The body types, however, will be very different.
The type 1 diabetic is usually thin, no matter how much they eat, while the type 2 diabetic is typically overweight. In fact, 80 percent of type 2 diabetics are overweight. If you recall, this is an example of a preventable factor.
Diet and exercise are usually tried initially, to keep your blood sugar within normal range. This works well for some people, or works well for a certain period of time. Otherwise, oral or injectable medication may be needed to control your blood sugar.
Talk with your health care provider to find out whether you need to monitor your blood sugar and, if so, what schedule you should use. Testing your blood sugar, and keeping a record of it, is an important tool to help you learn the relationship between food and your blood sugar level.