Did you know that more than 30 million Americans have diabetes? On top of that statistic, 25% don’t even know they have it. With so many diagnosed or showing risk factors at an early age, it’s important to know what diabetes is, how it impacts your health, and how to manage it.
What is Diabetes?
According to the National Institutes of Health, diabetes is a disease that occurs when blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. When we eat, our bodies change food into glucose and insulin helps move that glucose into our cells to be used as energy. However, if you are diagnosed with diabetes, your body may not produce enough insulin, may not use it properly, or a combination of the two. This surplus of glucose can have serious health impacts.
There are two different types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, previously known as juvenile diabetes, means that the body makes little to no insulin. According to the American Diabetes Association, only 5% of people with diabetes have Type 1 and it is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. Type 2 diabetes means that the body is making insulin incorrectly or is not making enough. This type of diabetes is the most common. Type 2 diabetes often presents itself among adults who are overweight, inactive, and/or have a family predisposition. Those that are overweight put additional pressure on their body’s ability to use insulin to properly control blood sugar levels, and are therefore more likely to develop diabetes.
Health Impact of Diabetes
Diabetes, if untreated, can cause damage to the large blood vessels which can cause long-term health problems, such as heart disease, skin conditions, hearing impairment, immune system damage, nerve damage, eye problems, and kidney disease. In addition, those with Type 2 diabetes are at greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Seniors that live with undiagnosed/untreated diabetes are more likely to have memory problems, depression, and difficulty managing their diabetes. Those with diabetes also have a greater chance of heart disease and stroke.
How to Manage Your Diabetes
It is very important that you manage your diabetes to avoid the negative health impacts mentioned above. To manage your diabetes, make sure to:
- Quit smoking
- Check your blood sugar (glucose) at home
- Stay active and get regular exercise
- Develop a healthy meal plan
- Monitor your sugar intake
- Take prescribed medication as directed
- Discuss your blood pressure, weight, and check your feet at all of your doctor’s visits
- Learn about the disease and remain vigilant
Managing your diabetes can be difficult but there are ways that you can track it yourself. One way to manage your diabetes is using a diabetes management app. You can read more about the top 4 ranked apps here.
If you are diagnosed with diabetes then you need to take it seriously, follow your doctor’s advice, and stay actively engaged in your day-to-day food intake. If you do not have diabetes, discuss ways to reduce your risk with your physician. Take proactive steps today and you could be preventing heart disease or other health risks from happening to you.