34.2 million American adults have diabetes. However, 1 in 5 don’t know they have it. Diabetes is a chronic condition that can affect many areas of the body. It’s a growing issue, more than doubling the new cases each year. Anyone can develop it, and most types can be prevented. Therefore, knowing your risk and the signs are the first steps to prevention, and solving what 1 in 5 don’t know.
Sugar is a vital energy source for our bodies but requires help from a particular hormone called insulin. Insulin works like a key or a password and is a product of the pancreas. One of its primary functions is to unlock the cells so the sugar can enter and be converted into energy. What’s leftover goes into storage for later use.
In diabetes, the energy conversion is broken, and the body cannot use the insulin properly or stops producing it. Therefore, sugar levels rise in the blood, and more is stored than used. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels cause damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves.
- Urinating often
- Feeling very thirsty
- Extreme fatigue
- Blurry vision
- Slow-healing cuts and bruises
- Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands or feet
The most common forms are type 2 (T2D), followed by type 1 (T1D). The stage prior to diagnosis and gestational are the others. Let’s take a closer look at the first three types:
- Pre-Diabetic: Average blood sugar levels must be at a certain level with diabetes. This stage is the progression to T2D, where blood sugar levels are higher than usual but not high enough for diagnosis. Lifestyle changes and medical intervention at this stage can stop or slow progression.
- T1D: In this type, the body no longer produces insulin, so patients with T1D must take supplemental insulin every day to live. Symptoms develop quickly and affect mainly children, teens, and young adults. There is no known prevention for this type.
- T2D: T2D occurs when the body resists the effects of insulin and blood sugar levels aren’t controlled. It takes years to develop and accounts for 90-95% of overall cases. Steps can be taken to prevent or slow progression.
Prevention and Management
Family history, inactivity, unhealthy diet, and being overweight are some examples of risk factors for this condition. When not managed, the damage that can occur also puts patients at risk for severe complications like heart disease, kidney failure, and limb amputation. The good news is simple lifestyle changes and daily monitoring have significant impacts on preventing and slowing its advancement. Maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise, and a healthy diet are a few recommendations the American Diabetes Association lists in their prevention program. Click the link to start today!
Clinical research plays an integral role in the detection, treatment, and prevention of conditions like diabetes. Research studies and the volunteers that participate in them make healthcare advancements possible. It is the heart of what we do here at the Florida Institute for Clinical Research. To learn more about getting involved in our enrolling diabetes studies, call (407) 658-0966, or visit our enrolling studies page.