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What Is Diabetes and Why Is It So Bad?

Reviewed by: Dr. Steven Knauf, D.C.

By Sara Butler

What Is Diabetes and Why Is It So Bad?

The body is a complex machine. Often you know when something isn’t right because you experience pain or discomfort, which inspires you to see a healthcare provider for treatment. There are serious conditions that can develop under the radar that can impact long-term health -- and diabetes is one of those conditions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 out of every 10 Americans has diabetes -- but half of them are unaware that they have it. Unfortunately, the number of people in the United States with diabetes grows each day and it is beginning to impact people at a younger age as well.

This is why it’s so important for everyone to understand what diabetes is and how it can impact your health, as well as actions that every person can take to help avoid diabetes or improve the condition if they do have it.

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that is centered around blood glucose, commonly referred to as blood sugar. In most people, the body naturally produces a hormone in the pancreas called insulin. This hormone assists the body in converting sugar from the things eaten into the energy used by the body for day-to-day functions. Those who have diabetes either don’t produce enough insulin or the body cannot properly use the insulin, either of which can cause the blood glucose levels to rise.

What’s the Difference Between Types 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?

There are many different types of diabetes. Women who are pregnant can suffer from gestational diabetes, which often goes away after they give birth. The most common types of diabetes diagnoses are type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.

Those diagnosed with type 1 diabetes have a pancreas that does not produce insulin. They must take insulin each day to survive. Nick Jonas and Bret Michaels are two well-known people who have type 1 diabetes, a condition often diagnosed in childhood. The symptoms of type 1 diabetes often include the following.

  • Excessive thirst
  • Tiredness
  • Frequent urination
  • Loss of weight and muscle
  • Blurry vision

Types 2 diabetes is a condition that is commonly diagnosed in adulthood. It is caused by the inability of the body to properly use sugar to fuel the body, which causes the blood sugar levels in the blood to rise, eventually leading to problems with blood flow, the immune system, and possibly even nerve damage.

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes are very similar to type 1 diabetes with excessive thirst and urination, blurry vision, and tiredness, but can also include cuts or ulcers that are slow to heal. For type 2 diabetes, the risk factors are vital to know since many people don’t notice the symptoms, or the symptoms just aren’t apparent.

The risk factors of type 2 diabetes include the following.

  • Being obese
  • Being over the age of 45
  • Having a history in your immediate family of diabetes
  • Having had gestational diabetes when pregnant or giving birth to a baby that weighed over 9 pounds at birth

No matter if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, the most important thing for people with diabetes is to manage your blood sugar.

Can Diabetes Cause Amputations?

Diabetes can come with a lot of complications, chief among them limb amputation, particularly of the foot or leg. This may seem like a strange complication, but once you understand how diabetes impacts the body, it starts to make sense.

When the blood sugar is elevated for prolonged periods, then it can cause something called diabetic neuropathy. Basically, the small blood vessels that nourish the nerves throughout the body are damaged by high blood sugar levels. The nerves simply can’t get the nutrients they need and are damaged as a result. This can lead to numbness in the legs and feet, which may cause a person to miss signs that they have an infection from foot ulcers or some other wound. When an infection is left untreated, then amputation may be the only option.

Can Diabetes Be Cured?

There is no cure for either type of diabetes. However, steps can be taken to help blood sugar levels to return to normal, thus putting type 2 diabetes in remission. Changes made to a person’s lifestyle, such as healthy eating and exercise, can work to reverse high blood sugar levels and help the body more effectively use the insulin it does produce. Often, weight gain can lead to issues with your body properly using insulin, so it’s vital to keep an eye on your body weight and get help if you feel like you’re having difficulty managing it on your own.

It’s important to remember that remission of type 2 diabetes doesn’t mean you’re cured but just that you’re keeping your blood sugar in a healthy range without the help of medication. Symptoms can always return, even if you go years without issues controlling your blood sugar. It’s an ongoing concern and one you must be diligent to address.

Is Alzheimer’s Disease Type 3 Diabetes?

You may have heard Alzheimer’s disease referred to recently as type 3 diabetes. A neurodegenerative disease, Alzheimer’s has been linked to high blood glucose levels and the inability of the body to properly break down sugar and properly utilize insulin, particularly being insulin resistant.

There’s nothing definitive yet, but there is a lot of research going on in the area to find possible connections between insulin issues and cognitive decline, so it’s something worth noting and keeping up to date on, especially if you’ve had problems with insulin resistance in your life.

If you’re worried about diabetes, then it’s important to seek help from a trusted healthcare professional, such as the chiropractors at The Joint Chiropractic. Chiropractic adjustments to keep your body functioning optimally can be a useful tool in managing your overall health, which is all the more important when you’re suffering from diabetes, whether it’s type 1, type 2, gestational, or type 3 diabetes.

Don’t let diabetes fly under the radar and wreak havoc on your future. Understand the warning signs, the risk factors, and what you can do to keep your blood sugar levels healthy.

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