Are you at risk for developing diabetes?

Are you at risk for developing diabetes?

There are several types of diabetes with different risk factors. Diabetes isn’t generally curable, but it is manageable. We’ll go over the general behavior of diabetes, factors that can increase your chances of developing certain types of diabetes, symptoms, and treatment options.

What is Diabetes?

When your blood glucose levels are too high, you might have diabetes. This condition occurs when your body doesn’t use insulin in the way that it should. Your body creates energy by breaking down carbs into sugar. Insulin helps move glucose from the bloodstream into body cells. So how does this all work? The pancreas produces insulin which in turn manages the amount of sugar in your bloodstream. Sugar buildup in the bloodstream can cause all sorts of health problems.

Diabetes can be classified in 3 main ways: Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational. With Type 1 diabetes, the body doesn’t produce insulin. This condition can occur at any age but commonly starts before the age of 20. When you have Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes, your body still produces insulin, but you can’t use it effectively. Problems using insulin can happen if insulin production can’t handle blood sugar levels or if your body has some sort of resistance to insulin.

Most cases of Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or managed by watching your diet and your weight and getting enough exercise. Gestational diabetes can occur during pregnancy when you have some sort of insulin resistance. Your body becomes less sensitive to insulin, and the insulin becomes less effective. This resistance can be the result of hormonal changes. 

Gestational diabetes may be temporary, with blood sugar levels returning to normal within six weeks of giving birth. However, gestational diabetes can increase your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes later.

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes

Generally, no symptoms are noticeable with prediabetes, the stage that comes before diabetes. With prediabetes, your blood sugar levels are higher than the normal range but not yet high enough to be considered diabetes. Symptoms may differ for different types of diabetes, but there are overlapping symptoms as well. Some symptoms of diabetes are:

  • Going to the toilet a lot, especially at night

  • Thirst

  • Having lower energy or feeling more tired than usual

  • Labored breathing

  • Losing weight without trying to 

  • Genital itching or thrush

  • Slower healing

  • A tingling sensation in your extremities (hands and feet)

  • Blurred vision

Diabetes can cause serious problems with your eyes, feet, or kidneys. The buildup of sugar in your blood can also increase your risk of stroke and heart disease. Nerve damage, skin conditions, and depression are further complications of diabetes. One of the best ways that you can tackle prediabetes to prevent it from becoming Type 2 Diabetes is by making healthier food choices and increasing the amount of exercise you get each week. 


Diagnosis and Treatment for Diabetes

Catching the condition earlier will make it easier to get a management plan in place. If you have been diagnosed with prediabetes, have a BMI higher than 25, are older than 45, or have had gestational diabetes, getting screened is recommended. Testing includes a few types of blood tests measuring blood sugar levels.

Since diabetes isn’t curable, treatment is all about managing the condition. Remission is possible for those with Type 2 diabetes. Healthy blood sugar levels can be maintained without medication when diabetes is in remission. Ways to manage diabetes include:

  • Balance diet and exercise with any necessary medication

  • Reducing your consumption of sugar and saturated fat (try meal prepping)

  • Controlling your blood pressure (maximum blood pressure 130/80)

  • Seeing your primary care provider for regular checkups and tests as necessary

  • Creating a routine around healthful lifestyle decisions

Diabetes and Women’s Health

Normal blood sugar levels are 70-99 mg/dL. If you have blood sugar levels of 100-125 mg/dL, it’s considered prediabetes, and diabetes occurs at blood sugar levels of 126+ mg/dL. Risk factors for prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes include:

  • Being overweight

  • A family history of diabetes

  • HDL cholesterol low than 40 or 50 mg/dL

  • A history of high blood pressure

  • Gestational diabetes or birthing a 9+ lb baby

  • History of PCOS

  • Being African American, Native American, Latin American, or Asian-Pacific Islander

  • 45+ years old

  • A sedentary lifestyle

Problems to watch for include high blood sugar, ketone levels in urine (often urine will smell sweet), fruity breath, and low blood sugar. Get care immediately If you see signs of any of these issues. 

Making small changes to your lifestyle can help you manage the condition more healthfully. Eating a diet high in fresh, nutritious foods may be beneficial. You can also avoid high-sugar (empty calorie) foods and limit how much alcohol and sugar containing beverages you drink. It might be helpful to speak with a nutritional expert to figure out a diet plan that works for you. Take at least half an hour to exercise at least five days a week. While you’re exercising, watch for signs of low blood sugar. You might have low blood sugar if you feel dizzy, confused, weak, or are sweating profusely.

If you have further questions about learning to manage diabetes effectively, we suggest chatting with your primary care provider.

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