Diabetes is a leading cause of disability in the United States. It affects how your body uses glucose, a simple sugar that helps get fuel into your cells to provide needed energy for muscles and tissues; it’s also your brain’s main source of fuel. When someone has diabetes, glucose can’t get into cells the way it’s needed and floats around in your bloodstream. Left unmanaged, this glucose build-up can lead to circulatory problems, limb amputations, kidney disease, heart attacks, strokes, diabetic blindness, and, sadly, a shortened life expectancy.
Main types of diabetes:
Once referred to as juvenile diabetes, Type 1 occurs when your pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin or perhaps 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 initial 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
- 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 Kelsey-Seybold’s chief of Endocrinology.
For appointments, call 713-442-0000.