Facts about Diabetes
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Diabetes is a disease marked by high levels of sugar or glucose in the blood. Most of the food we eat is broken down into glucose. Glucose is the main source of fuel for our body.
After we eat, glucose passes into the bloodstream and is carried to our cells where it is used for energy. To get into our cells, glucose needs insulin. Insulin is a hormone that controls if and how glucose moves from our blood into our cells.
People with diabetes do not make enough insulin or their cells can’t use the insulin they make or both. Glucose passes into the blood but does not get into cells.
There are two types of diabetes. In Type 1 diabetes, the body stops making insulin. It is usually first diagnosed in children and young adults, but can occur at any age. Type 2—the most common type of diabetes—usually begins when cells do not use insulin well. Over time, the body may not make enough insulin. It can develop at any age. Being overweight and inactive play a big role. Though either type is serious, people with diabetes can live long, healthy lives with early diagnosis, proper treatment and follow up with their doctor.
Some people have no warning signs until their blood glucose is very high. Symptoms include:
- Being very thirsty.
- Urinating often.
- Losing weight without trying.
- Blurry vision.
- Sores that don’t heal.
If you have any of these symptoms, call your doctor right away.
Are you at risk?
If you are 45 years old or older and overweight you are at high risk for diabetes. You are also at high risk if you are under 45 years old, overweight and have one or more of the following factors: you don’t exercise regularly; you have a family history of diabetes; you are an ethnic minority such as African American, Latino or Asian American; or you have high blood pressure.
If you have these risks, get tested for diabetes. If you have diabetes, the sooner you find out the better.
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