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Information provided by Federal Occupational Health

DIABETES 101
Diabetes is a disorder characterized by higher-than-normal levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Insulin is a naturally occurring hormone that helps break down glucose and make this energy source available for the body’s many functions. Glucose is important for the body to fuel itself; however, when there isn’t enough insulin or the body doesn’t respond to or process it properly, the excess sugar in the blood can cause serious health problems.

Symptoms of Diabetes
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the following are some common symptoms of diabetes:

  • Feeling thirsty more often than usual
  • Urinating more often than usual
  • Feeling excessively hungry with no apparent cause
  • Feeling tired often
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Having sores that heal more slowly than usual
  • Having dry or itchy skin
  • Experiencing the sensation of tingling in your feet
  • Having numbness in your feet
  • Having blurry eyesight

If you may have one or more of the above symptoms, the best way to find out if you have diabetes is to ask your primary care provider to administer a quick blood test.

Types of Diabetes

Type 1
Type 1 diabetes, which was once more commonly referred to as “insulin-dependent diabetes,” occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin. If you are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, your doctor will prescribe supplemental insulin to help the body break down and use glucose as energy. If you have type 1 diabetes, you will need to learn how to monitor your blood sugar levels and take insulin. Your primary care provider will help you with this.

Type 2
With type 2 diabetes, the excess sugar in the blood can be caused by the body’s inability to produce enough insulin or to use insulin optimally. Your risk of developing type 2 diabetes can increase as you age. Your weight (in proportion to your height) can also put you at risk. That’s why keeping track of your body mass index, or BMI, is so important. Having a BMI of 25 or higher raises your risk of type 2 diabetes significantly; yet anyone, regardless of age or BMI, can develop type 2 diabetes. To protect yourself, be aware of the symptoms and have your glucose levels checked from time to time when you visit your primary care provider.

Gestational Diabetes
Some women develop changes in their bodies during the later stages of pregnancy that cause them to have trouble with high blood sugar levels. This is called gestational diabetes. If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, your doctor will work closely with you during your pregnancy to manage this disorder.

Prediabetes
Prediabetes is a condition in which your glucose (blood sugar) levels are high, but not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes. Although prediabetes is not considered to be as serious as type 1 or type 2 diabetes, having prediabetes can still adversely affect your health. It can begin a cascade of damage to those organs most vulnerable to the effects of diabetes: the heart, circulatory system, eyes, nerves, kidneys, gums, and teeth. But there is good news if you are diagnosed with pre-diabetes.  It is often easier to catch diabetes early and prevent the complications of fully-developed diabetes. 
 
Diabetes Prevention
Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes may be prevented by avoiding conditions and behaviors that put you at higher risk, such as the following:

  • Having a sedentary lifestyle (not getting enough physical activity)
  • Being overweight (having a BMI of 25 or higher)
  • Not having a good diet (consuming foods with high levels of sugar and added sugar)

Make the Change
Small, consistent changes can make a big difference, so take charge and make your health a top priority to lower your risk of diabetes.

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