November is American Diabetes Month and we heard from Primary Care Provider Rachel Francis, PA-C. about diabetes prevention and risks.
1.) What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?
The most common types of diabetes you hear about are Type 1 and Type 2. In Type 1 diabetes a person's body becomes unable to produce enough of its own insulin. Since insulin is required to process the body's blood sugar (glucose), this leads to high levels of sugar circulating in the bloodstream. In type 2 diabetes, the body is able to produce some or all of the insulin it needs; however the cells within the body are resistant to the insulin and therefore are unable to use it effectively.
2.) Who is most at risk for type 2 diabetes?
Although diabetes is present across all patient populations, the risk is higher in some more so than others. There is higher risk amongst those who are obese, live sedentary lifestyles, with strong family histories of diabetes, and who had elevated blood sugar problems during pregnancy (gestational diabetes). Also, those who have chronic mildly elevated blood sugars otherwise known as "pre-diabetes," are at higher risk of progressing to Type 2 diabetes, as well as certain ethnicities.
3.) What are some things a person can do to prevent development of diabetes?
Although one cannot change certain risk factors like family history, age or ethnicity; there are things you can do to help reduce the likelihood of developing diabetes or possibly prevent it all together! Take action by improving your lifestyle habits such as eating a healthy diet, getting regular physical exercise, and getting regular preventative checks with your health care provider.
4.) Why is it important to treat diabetes early?
You might be wondering, "Why should I be concerned about my blood sugar? I feel fine!" In the early stages of type 2 diabetes, there may be few or no symptoms. However, over time high levels of blood sugar, either from Type1 or 2, can cause damage to small blood vessels in the eyes, kidneys, brain, and heart; eventually leading to complications like stroke, heart attack, neuropathy, kidney failure, loss of vision, and loss of arterial circulation leading to higher risk of wounds and amputations. Early control of elevated blood sugar slows the progression and even prevents some of these complications. Talk to your healthcare provider about what is best for you.