Who it affects?
According to the 2011 National Diabetes Fact sheet, 25.8 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. People at increased risk include those who are older than 45, inactive, overweight, have high blood pressure, have high cholesterol, had diabetes during pregnancy or had a baby that weighed more than 9 pounds. Additionally, those with immediate family history and certain ethnic groups such as African Americans, Hispanics, Latinos, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, or American Indians are at higher risk.
What is it?
Diabetes is a disease that affects the body’s ability to regulate blood glucose (sugar). Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, changes sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. Glucose builds up in the blood when the body does not produce enough insulin or cannot use the insulin that it does produce. The buildup of glucose in the blood can lead to serious complications.
What you need to know:
Diabetes often goes undiagnosed because many of the symptoms such as increased hunger and thirst, unexplained weight loss, and frequent urination, seem harmless and are ignored. However, early detection of the disease can decrease the chance of developing diabetes related complications. With the correct treatment and recommended lifestyle changes, many people with diabetes are able to prevent or delay the onset of complications that include heart disease, stroke, eye disease that can lead to vision loss or blindness, kidney disease, and nerve damage that can lead to problems such as amputations or erectile dysfunction.
Managing your diabetes daily includes taking the following steps:
Coping & Support:
People with properly managed diabetes are able to live very full and active lives. While discovering that you have diabetes may seem overwhelming, getting support will help in learning to live with your diagnosis. The American Diabetes Association has a wealth of information. For access to their resources and connection to local support visit them online at www.diabetes.org or contact them at 1-800 DIABETES (1-800-342-2383).