November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. Whether you are hoping to learn more about the disease to take better care of yourself or a loved one, the more knowledge you have, the easier diabetes management will be for you. From understanding the difference between each type of diabetes, to learning the best ways you can maintain healthy habits and minimize risks, every precaution you take can make a difference.
What’s the Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?
Even if the disease is unfamiliar to you, you’ve likely heard about type 1 and type diabetes. But the differences are key to understanding how to properly manage the symptoms.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is when the body’s immune system fights its own insulin-producing cells and inhibits the production of insulin altogether. While the exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown, it’s likely a genetic disorder and can develop early in a person’s childhood.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes and is characterized by the body having resistance to its own insulin. This type of diabetes typically develops later in life and is more prevalent in individuals who are overweight or obese.
What is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes occurs only during pregnancy and often has few or no symptoms, which may include: frequent urination and thirst. It is believed to be caused by hormonal changes that impact insulin production.
While this type of diabetes typically goes away after the baby is born, it can cause health complications for the mother and baby and should be tested for and monitored by a doctor, starting between 24 and 28 weeks gestation. It can also be prevented by a healthy diet and exercise, both before and during pregnancy.
Women who experience gestational diabetes are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life and should take precautions to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.
Complications Caused by Diabetes
Some of the most common medical complications that can be caused by diabetes include: heart or nerve damage as well as foot problems. This is because diabetes impacts the body’s blood flow, which (if not properly addressed) can cause strain on extremities and force the heart to work harder than normal.
Diabetic shock occurs when blood sugar levels become dangerously high or dangerously low. Symptoms vary, but often include:
- Weakness or shakiness
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Impaired vision
- Racing heart or palpitations
- Loss of consciousness
Diabetic shock is very serious and can be life threatening, so if you believe that you or a loved one is experiencing these symptoms, call 911 right away.
Although there is no cure for diabetes, it can be effectively managed through use of prescription medication, carefully monitoring sugar intake, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
- Seek advice from medical professionals and specialists who can provide you with guidance that’s tailored to your specific needs.
- Nutritionists and fitness trainers can also be a big help to diabetes patients who want to take proactive steps toward minimizing the symptoms and severity of diabetes through lifestyle changes.
- Check your blood glucose levels with a blood glucose meter. This tool will help you determine how much insulin to take, so that you can maintain healthy levels and feel your best. These can be purchased over the counter at Wiley’s Pharmacy.
- Take your medicine. Many people with diabetes regulate their blood sugar function through use of insulin, which is typically introduced to the body through injections or an insulin pump.
- Stay healthy by eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep.
Managing diabetes isn’t always easy, but staying diligent about your health is always worth it, as it can prevent complications later on. Even if you don’t have diabetes yourself, knowing how it affects people around you will give you a better understanding of their needs. As always, diagnosis and treatment should be determined by a healthcare professional, so if you suspect that you’re showing symptoms of diabetes, seek professional medical guidance.