According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29.1 million Americans have diabetes. Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose levels are above normal. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body doesn't make enough insulin or can't use its own insulin properly. This causes sugar to build up in your blood.
There are three different types of diabetes:
- Type 1 – Individuals with type 1 diabetes cannot make insulin, so it needs to be provided through multiple daily injections.
- Type 2 – This is the most common type of diabetes. The body is not able to use insulin properly, meaning glucose needed for energy isn't getting into the body's cells. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it can cause heart, nerve, kidney, and vision problems over time.
- Gestational diabetes – This type of diabetes only occurs in pregnant women. It is similar to type 2, however, when the woman is no longer pregnant, her blood sugar should return to normal. Once a woman has had gestational diabetes, she is at a greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
The American Diabetes Association lists the following symptoms for type 2 diabetes; however, symptoms may be so mild, they can go unnoticed:
- urinating often
- feeling very thirsty
- feeling very hungry even though you are eating
- extreme fatigue
- blurry vision
- cuts or bruises that are slow to heal
- tingling, pain or numbness in the hands or feet
Only a blood test can diagnose diabetes. Talk with your doctor about how often you should be screened.