Do you find yourself going to the bathroom more than usual? Are you unusually hungry or thirsty? Is fatigue a normal, everyday feeling? Does spontaneous, blurred vision interfere with you daily life? If this sounds like you, you may have Diabetes. Diabetes effects over sixteen million Americans, and many people are unaware they have it. Every day, 2,200 new cases of Diabetes are diagnosed in the United States. Diabetes is characterized by a high level of sugar in the blood, as a result of defective insulin secretion, or insulin resistance. Although we tend to group all people with Diabetes together, the truth is that there are two different types of Diabetes that are similar in their elevated blood sugar, but different in many other ways.
Type 1 Diabetes is usually diagnosed in children, and young adults. It is characterized by the Pancreas’ inability to produce insulin. It is thought that this inability arises from an autoimmune condition. Basically the body is killing its own insulin producing cells. The symptoms of type 1 Diabetes are very obvious, frequent urination, increased thirst, and weight loss. The onset is usually abrupt, and severe. In addition, having type 1 Diabetes increases your risk for many serious complications, heart disease, blindness, nerve damage, and kidney damage. Treatment consists of intermediate or long-acting insulin (taken once or twice daily) with fast- or rapid-acting insulin injections taken at mealtimes.
Type 2 Diabetes often develops rather insidiously, showing few or no symptoms. The symptoms are similar to type 1, however they develop gradually over time. This may explain why it often goes undetected at first. The cells of the body being resistant to insulin characterize the most common form of diabetes, type 2. The Pancreas still produces insulin, however the body cannot use it efficiently. Type 2 usually develops in men or women over 40 years of age, characterized by obesity, and lack of physical activity. In particular, people who are an “apple-shape” – with lots of fat around the abdomen – are at greater risk of developing diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes runs in families, and is particularly common among people of African-Caribbean or Asian origin. Similarly, having type 2 Diabetes increases your risk for many serious complications, as type 1. Unlike type 1, type 2 Diabetes can usually be controlled with diet, exercise or medicines.
If you suspect you may have Diabetes, it is important to see your doctor, especially if you fall into any of the categories previously mentioned. Discovering you have Diabetes is frightening, don’t panic, people with Diabetes can live long, healthy, happy lives. Eat right and exercise. It’s a simple prescription that will keep you healthy, whether you have diabetes or not.
Dr. Jay B Stockman O.D. is a contributing editor for Vision Update and a practicing Doctor of Optometry. He has extensive experience in Diabetes Management. Visit http://visionupdate.net/ for more information.