Senior Health – Diabetes and Its Warning Signs

Diabetes is a very serious disease that affects nearly 21 million people in the United States, and another 54 million people are at risk. It’s a very sad disease to be diagnosed with, and because it has become so common, chances are if you don’t have it, you know at least one person who does.

So what exactly is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease where the body does not properly control the amount of sugar in the blood stream resulting in elevated blood sugar levels. This is a result of the body not producing enough insulin on its own, or when the body is not using the insulin properly. If Diabetes is left untreated, it can cause serious organ damage. Diabetes, even when cared for, can result in heart and blood vessel disease, blindness, kidney failure and foot ulcers.

Now, there are two types of Diabetes, and they are both completely different diseases:

Type 1 – Type 1 Diabetes, in layman’s terms, is when the pancreas can no longer make the insulin required to carry sugar from the blood into other cells of the body. Scientists believe this is caused by a virus that causes the immune system to attack the insulin-producing cells and permanently destroy them. Those diagnosed with Type 1 will have to take insulin injections every day to survive. They will have to test themselves often and determine the proper amount of insulin required and inject themselves daily. This will mimic the action of a healthy functioning pancreas.

Type 2 – Type 2 is the most common form of Diabetes, as much as 95% of people diagnosed have type 2. This form of Diabetes is a result of things like obesity, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, family history and increased age (21% of individuals over the age of 60 are diabetic). Some of the causes of Type 2 Diabetes can be changed with better habits and lifestyle changes, and as a result, the Diabetes may in fact clear up on its own. Those diagnosed with Type 2 should consult a doctor about positive lifestyle changes- daily exercise combined with medication, insulin, and monitoring can help you correct your Diabetes. If you have any of the risk factors for Type 2 that are in your control, you can reduce your risk on your own by losing excess weight, eating better, and staying active. You’ll feel your best and reduce your risk at the same time!

So what are the symptoms and warning signs?

With the exception of a few, many of the warning signs of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are the same. However the symptoms of Type 1 tend to hit much faster, and sadly can affect anyone- children, young adults, people in their 40’s and seniors alike can all be diagnosed with type 1 Diabetes.

Warning signs of type 1:

o Increased Thirst
o Increased hunger
o Dry mouth
o Frequent urination
o Blurry vision
o Fatigue
o Headaches
o Unexpected weight loss

Type 2 diabetics aren’t usually diagnosed until complications have already occurred. They usually experience the symptoms listed above but they occur gradually and are not immediately noticeable. As many as half of all people with Type 2 Diabetes don’t even know they have it.

Type 2 Diabetes symptoms include all of the listed above and the following:

o Slow healing sores or cuts
o Itching of the skin
o Decreased vision
o Impotency
o Frequent yeast infections
o Numbness or tingling in the hands, legs or feet

If you are experiencing any of the above listed symptoms you should contact your regular doctor for testing immediately. Even people with pre-diabetes can suffer from increased risk of heart disease.

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