Diabetes is a leading cause of disability in the United States. Unmanaged, it can lead to life-limiting conditions including circulatory problems in the legs and feet, limb amputations, kidney disease, heart attacks, strokes and diabetic blindness.
Diabetes affects how your body uses glucose, a simple sugar that helps get fuel into your cells to provide energy for muscles and tissues. Glucose is also your brain’s main source of fuel. If you have diabetes, glucose can’t get into your cells the way it’s needed and floats around in your bloodstream. Too much glucose buildup can lead to those health complications listed above.
Main types of diabetes:
Once referred to as juvenile diabetes, Type 1 occurs when your pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin or none at all. Type 2 diabetes occurs when your pancreas may initially produce adequate amounts of insulin, but your body doesn’t use it properly. Type 2 usually presents in adulthood and often called a “silent” disease because, in the early stages, symptoms may seem insignificant and be dismissed – until the disease progresses.
Type 2 early-warning symptoms:
- Unusual thirst.
- Overly frequent (often nighttime) urination.
- Chronic fatigue.
- Susceptibility to infections.
- Sexual dysfunction.
Type 2 risk factors:
- Being overweight.
- Leading a sedentary lifestyle.
- Having unmanaged hypertension.
- Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians, and Native-Americans are at higher-than-average risk.
- Having a family history of diabetes.
To help lower your risk:
- Eat healthy, high-fiber, portion-controlled meals low in sugars.
- Exercise for 30 minutes, five days a week.
- Maintain a doctor-recommended weight.
- Avoid tobacco and nicotine in any form.
- Have regular medical checkups. Cooperate with your doctor to develop lifestyle strategies, and, if necessary, take prescribed glucose-controlling medication to help manage or prevent this all-too-prevalent disease.
Dr. Bhagia is a board-certified physician specializing in Endocrinology. Bilingual in English and Hindi, she cares for patients at Kelsey-Seybold’s Berthelsen Main Campus and Meyerland Plaza Clinic. Her clinical interests include treating diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, thyroid disease, and osteoporosis, and managing lifestyle related conditions such as obesity.