Diabetes is a group of diseases defined by the body’s inability to control levels of sugar in the blood.
Usually, the body turns food into glucose (sugar) that can be used for energy. Individuals who have this disease either don’t make enough insulin – or don’t use it efficiently enough – for it to help the glucose get into the body’s cells to be used as energy. As a result, excess sugar builds. Over time, high blood sugar levels cause the pancreas to overcompensate to make insulin, which leads to permanent damage. Excess sugar in the blood also causes blood vessels to harden, which leads to severe circulation problems to the legs and feet. High levels of blood glucose can cause damage to the tiny vessels in your kidneys, heart, eyes or nervous system. That’s why diabetes, especially if untreated, can cause heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness and nerve damage.
There are two main types of diabetes; Type 1 and Type 2
- Type 1 means that the pancreas is not producing insulin, or is producing very little. This type always requires shots of insulin injected into the body
- Type 2 means that the pancreas is producing insulin, but not enough OR that the body does not use its insulin effectively.
- 9 out of 10 cases of diabetes are Type 2
Type 2 diabetes affects at least one in every 10 Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates it will affect one in every three Americans by 2050.
The goal of treatment for diabetes is to keep the individual’s blood sugar as close to normal as possible. Doing this will lower the person’s chances of getting:
- Stroke, Heart disease, Kidney failure, High blood pressure, Stomach disease, Eye disease, loss of vision or blindness, Nerve damage with pain or loss of