Diabetes Awareness Month: The ABCs of Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce insulin, a hormone the body needs to get glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body. Glucose is a simple sugar used for energy which is created by the body—specifically the pancreas—by breaking down the sugars and starches that are consumed. Common symptoms include:

• frequent urination
• excessive thirst
• excessive hunger even when eating regularly
• extreme fatigue
• blurry vision
• slow-healing cuts and bruises
• weight loss, even when eating more (Type 1)
• tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands and/or feet (Type 2)

Type 1—Type 1 diabetes was previously known as juvenile diabetes. It is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and comprises five percent of all people with diabetes.

Type 2—Type 2 diabetes develops during adulthood. More than 30 million Americans have this disease.

Gestational—Gestational diabetes occurs in women during pregnancy. Women with gestational diabetes often have no symptoms.

Diabetes is a disease that increases risks for many other serious health problems. These include:

Skin Complications—Skin problems are sometimes the first sign a person has diabetes, including bacterial and fungal infections and itching, which anyone can have. Other signs occur mostly or only to people with diabetes, including raised areas and enlargements, scaly patches, waxy skin, and blisters.

Eye Complications—People with diabetes are 40% more likely to suffer from glaucoma, increasing with age; and are 60% more likely to develop cataracts. Another complication is diabetic retinopathy, disorders of the retina, which can lead to blindness if not diagnosed and treated.

Neuropathy—Neuropathy is nerve damage caused by diabetes, affecting about half of all diabetics. This damage can effect the body in many different areas and ways, from tingling and numbness, loss of feeling, and pain and muscle weakness, to paralysis.

Foot Complications—In addition to skin complications and neuropathies affecting the feet, those with diabetes have increased risk for calluses, foot ulcers, pain, or even amputation due to peripheral arterial disease (PAD), which reduces blood flow to the feet.

DKA (Ketoacidosis) & Ketones—When the body’s cells don’t get glucose, fat is burned for energy, which produces a chemical called ketones. Ketone buildup in the blood makes it more acidic, a poison that can lead to diabetic coma or even death.

Kidney Disease (Nephropathy)—High levels of blood glucose can make the kidneys filter too much blood, eventually leading to leakage where useful protein is lost in the urine. If not diagnosed, this leads to larger amounts of protein in the urine, leading to end-stage renal disease (ESRD), causing the kidneys to fail and requiring a kidney transplant or dialysis.

Diabetics are also at risk for complications from high blood pressure and are at higher risk for stroke.

If diagnosed, diabetes can be managed and complications can be minimized. However, more than 7 million of those with diabetes are not yet diagnosed. And, as the 7th leading cause of death in the United States, more resources, education, and treatment options are required. Research is critical to improving the lives of diabetics.

Meridien Research has diabetes research studies that are enrolling now at several of our clinics. For more information or to see if you or someone you know may qualify to participate, please contact us today at 1-888-777-8839 or visit our individual study pages.

Information in this article was sourced from the American Diabetes Association (11/6/2017).