Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects your body’s ability to process glucose.
Normally, your body breaks down food into the sugar glucose, which it releases into your bloodstream. As levels rise, it signals the beta cells in your pancreas to produce and release the hormone insulin, which allows your cells to use the glucose for energy.
With diabetes, your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or it becomes unable to respond to it, so the sugar remains in your bloodstream. That can lead to a host of problems, including heart disease, nerve damage, vision loss, and kidney disease.
At Primecare Family Practice in Arlington, Texas, board-certified family practitioners Maryline Ongangi, APRN, FNP-C and Lewis Nyantika, APRN, FNP-C understand how devastating uncontrolled diabetes can be, which is why they offer screening services for the disease, to pick up any signs early, when the disease is better treated. To that end, they want to share six early warning signs of diabetes, so you’ll know when to seek out medical help.
There are three primary types of diabetes, as well as a precursor stage that can develop into diabetes if the condition isn’t treated.
Type 1 diabetes is thought to result from an autoimmune reaction, where the body mistakenly attacks its own cells. In this case, it destroys the beta cells in the pancreas, preventing insulin production. About 5-10% of the people who have diabetes have type 1, which was formerly called juvenile diabetes because it was usually diagnosed in childhood.
Symptoms of type 1 diabetes usually develop quickly. There’s no way to prevent this type’s development, so if you get it, you’ll need to take insulin injections every day to survive.
Type 2 diabetes often develops due to lifestyle factors, including lack of activity, excess weight, and an unhealthy diet. That makes it the most preventable form of the disease. With type 2, your body doesn’t respond to insulin’s instructions, so the sugar remains in your bloodstream at unhealthy levels. About 90-95% of diabetics have type 2.
Type 2 develops over many years and is usually diagnosed in adults, though it’s escalating among children and teens due to the “American diet.” Because it develops so slowly, you may not notice any symptoms until it’s become advanced, so if you’re at risk, it’s important to get your blood sugar tested regularly.
Just as type 2 is caused by lifestyle factors, changes in lifestyle factors can prevent or delay the disease’s onset. Losing weight, eating a well-balanced diet, and staying active can all help.
Gestational diabetes is a unique situation. The condition develops in pregnant women who’ve never had diabetes and usually goes away once you’ve delivered. However, if you have gestational diabetes, your baby may be at higher risk for health problems at birth, as well as be more likely to become obese and develop type 2 diabetes later in life. In addition, you’re at increased risk for type 2 later on.
In the United States, more than 1 in 3 adults — some 96 million — have prediabetes, a precursor to type 2. What’s worse, more than 8 in 10 of those don’t know they have it. With prediabetes, your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but they’re not high enough for a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
Prediabetes raises your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. However, making lifestyle changes can help you reverse the problem before it becomes entrenched.
Depending on the type of diabetes, your symptoms may vary. However, both type 1 and type 2 share some warning signs:
If you notice any of these warning signs, it’s time to seek medical help.
Do you know your blood glucose numbers? Are you at risk for developing diabetes? Contact Primecare Family Practice to schedule a blood test that can put you on the road to better health. Call us at 817-873-3710, or book online with us today.