Diabetes: Questions & Answers

09.25.18
Health & Wellness

According to the American Diabetes Association, each year an estimated 25,000 Arkansans are added to the congregation of approximately 363,781 people in Arkansas that have diabetes, and of these, it’s estimated that 75,000 don’t know they have it. Not to mention the 797,000 people in Arkansas, 36.4% of the adult population, who have prediabetes.

What can you do to fight diabetes? Educate yourself and let what you learn change your lifestyle. Start by reading this article, which covers some of the basics about diabetes.

What is diabetes?

– Diabetes Is A Metabolism Disorder

“Most of the food we eat is changed into a form of sugar known as glucose,” explains JRMC Endocrinologist, Maher Alesali, M.D. “Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps distribute glucose to the cells of the body where it is used for energy, and when you have diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin or use insulin properly. As a result, the sugar builds up in the blood instead of moving to the cells, and that can lead to a multitude of serious health problems.”

What is the difference between type 1 diabetes & type 2 diabetes?

– Type 1 Diabetes

“Type 1 diabetes is sometimes called juvenile diabetes, because it is usually found in children and young adults,” says Dr. Alesali. “It occurs when the body produces no insulin at all, and insulin therapy is required on a permanent basis. Luckily, only five to ten percent of people with diabetes have type 1.

– Type 2 Diabetes

“Type 2 develops when the body doesn’t make enough insulin or the cells ignore
 the insulin that is present,” Dr. Alesali said. Type
 2 diabetes is just as serious, but 
it does present more treatment 
options, including oral medication
 and dietary control in addition to 
insulin.

– Gestational Diabetes

Expectant mothers occasionally experience a third type of the disease. “About four percent of pregnant women in America develop gestational diabetes,” says Dr. Alesali. “It usually disappears after the baby is born, but women who have had it are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.”

What are the complications of diabetes?

“The list is very long,” says Dr. Alesali. “Heart attack, stroke, blindness and kidney disease can all be caused by diabetes. Nerve damage (neuropathy) and blood circulation problems (vascular disease), which may lead to amputation of the extremities, are also possible. It’s very important for people with diabetes to closely monitor their overall health and pay particular attention to areas that are considered high risk.”

What are the symptoms?

Signs of type 1 diabetes include frequent urination, extreme thirst or hunger, sudden weight loss, fatigue and irritability. Those same symptoms can be a sign of type 2 diabetes, as well as blurred vision, tingling/numbness in the hands or feet and recurring infections of the skin, gums or bladder.

Is diabetes hereditary?

Somewhat. “Your risk does increase if a parent or sibling has diabetes,” says Dr. Alesali. “While some of that is genetic, we believe family eating habits and sedentary lifestyles are also responsible. African Americans, Hispanics and American Indians are at greater risk, too, although we don’t know why.”

Can diabetes be prevented?

“The onset of diabetes can be prevented in some cases and can certainly be delayed in others by living a healthier lifestyle,” Dr. Alesali says. “A study by the National Institutes of Health found that losing just five to seven percent of your body fat and including 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day could slow down or even stop the development of Type 2 diabetes.” Dr. Alesali adds that the most important factor is to know your individual risk, check your status on a regular basis and follow your physician’s orders all the way.

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