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Diabetes & Medical Alert IDs
Diabetes is a disease in which a person has high blood glucose levels. Since most of the food we eat is turned into glucose by our bodies to use as energy, the pancreas creates a hormone called insulin to help deliver the glucose into the cells of our body. Those affected by diabetes don’t make enough insulin, or can’t use their own produced insulin, causing the sugar (glucose) to build up in their blood.
With over 25 million Americans being affected by diabetes, it’s important to be able to understand the disease and know the signs and symptoms.
The following is a list of symptoms that sufferers may deal with.
- Unexplained loss of weight
- Frequent urination
- Extreme thirst and hunger
- Sudden vision changes
- Feeling tired all of the time
- Dry, cracking skin
- Slow healing sores or infections
- Nausea, vomiting or stomach pain (type 1 diabetes)
Not all diabetes sufferers will have these symptoms, but recent estimates show nearly 79 million people in the U.S. population are in the stages of prediabetes, so it’s important to visit a physician for diagnosis.
Prediabetes – Prediabetes is a condition where blood glucose levels are higher than usual but not high enough to be called diabetes. This condition can be prevented, or delay the diabetes onset, by losing weight and increasing physical activity.
Type 1 (Insulin-Dependent or Juvenile-Onset) - Type 1 means that the body produces no insulin. Those who have type 1 need to take insulin every day. Type 1 affects 5 percent of diagnosed diabetes cases
Type 2 (Non-Insulin-Dependent or Adult-Onset) – Type 2 means that the body produces very little or has a hard time using the insulin produced. Those who have type 2 often take pills or insulin. This is the most common form of diabetes. The amount of cases of diagnosed type 2 sufferers has risen recently in America.
Gestational Diabetes – Gestational diabetes roughly occurs in 2 to 10 percent of pregnancies. This form of glucose intolerance can develop in someone who has not been diagnosed previously with diabetes. Women who develop gestational diabetes have a 35 to 60 percent chance to have an onset of mostly type 2 diabetes within the next 20 years.
There are a small percentage of other types of diabetes accounting for 1 to 5 percent of diagnosed cases. These types are usually the result of specific genetic syndromes, surgery, drugs, malnutrition, infections or other illnesses.
Who’s at Risk?
Type 2 diabetes risk factors include obesity, age family history, impaired glucose intolerance, physical activity and race/ethnicity. African Americans, Hispanic, American Indians and some Asian American and Pacific Islanders are at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes. Most of the cases with race/ethnicity occur due to generational diabetes, or to families with a previous history of diabetes. As stated before, women who suffer from gestational diabetes have a chance to develop the disease in the next 10 to 20 years.
Certain medications can increase the risks of prediabetes due to the agents contributing to substantial weight gain. These include anti-depressants, psychotropic agents or HIV treatments.
Other risks include having high blood pressure or having a low HDL (High Density Lipoproteins - “good” cholesterol). Should you have one or both of these symptoms; you will need treatment to overcome any problems.
Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S., so early diagnosis is a key to stop the problem before it starts.
Prevention & Treatment
Numerous actions can be taken to prevent or lower your risk of diabetes. These include maintaining a healthy weight and exercising, eating healthy, and abstaining from smoking. Be aware of any family history of diabetes and take steps to ensure you are doing everything you can to lower your risk. By taking these steps to prevent diabetes, you also lower your risk for other complications including heart and kidney disease, blindness, nerve damage and various other health related problems.
Should your health or weight be at risk, be willing to make changes and stick to them. Work with your physician to set realistic goals with your eating habits and any physical activity routines. Don’t worry about having to get to an ideal body weight, even 10 to 15 pounds can delay or prevent any onset. Make healthy choices in eating by avoiding fats and taking in fewer calories than you would burn during your daily activities. There are also various resources online to help you in achieving your goals.
What to do in the Event of an Emergency
People with diabetes should keep an emergency kit with supplies. Depending on what type of diabetes you have or how you control it will depend on what should be in your kit. Keeping a supply of oral medication, insulin, insulin delivery supplies, lancets and a source of glucose that can act quickly. You should always wear a medical alert bracelet or tag in case anything extreme should happen. That way, responders will know immediately in what way they should care for you.
Live Happy and Healthy
Having diabetes is not a death sentence. The important thing to remember is to stay educated and up to date.By following a few simple steps and staying on top of any complications, people with diabetes can lead a normal life.