You are probably well aware that diabetes is a huge health issue in this country, but if you aren’t one of the 25.8 million Americans who have it, you may not know much about the different types of the disease or warning signs. First things first: There are three main types of diabetes.
- Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease, previously known as juvenile diabetes. Often diagnosed in children and young adults, this disease happens because the immune system turns against the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Those with Type 1 must take insulin daily or risk going in to a life-threatening diabetic coma.
- Type 2 Diabetes is the most common form and probably what you think of when you hear the word diabetes. Approximately 90 percent of people with diabetes have Type 2. With Type 2, the body produces insulin, but can’t use it successfully. Physical inactivity, older age, obesity and a family history of diabetes are often associated with this form.
- Gestational Diabetes can develop during pregnancy due to a shortage of insulin and hormones. This form tends to disappear when the baby is born, but does increase the mother’s chance for developing Type 2 later in life.
Ones risk of developing complications from diabetes can be dramatically decreased through early detection and treatment. Here are signs you or a member of your family may have diabetes:
- Extreme feelings of thirst and hunger, even when you’ve eaten and had plenty to drink
- Frequently urinating
- Bruises and cuts take longer to heal
- Blurred vision
- A symptom specific to Type 1 is unexplained weight loss
- A symptom specific to Type 2 is tingling or numbness in your hands and feet
It’s important to note that early signs of diabetes can be subtle. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms, be sure to see your doctor. Women with gestational diabetes often have no symptoms, so make sure your doctor tests at the appropriate time during pregnancy.
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Photo credit: Trevor Butcher