Millions of Americans don’t know they have diabetes. Do you?
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that affects a person’s blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels. Diabetes causes the blood sugar to be too high. Glucose comes from the foods we eat. Insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose get into your cells to give them energy.
With type 1 diabetes, your body doesn’t make insulin. With the more common type 2 diabetes, your body does not make or use insulin well.
The symptoms can be so mild that they may not be noticed. The American Diabetes Association lists common diabetes symptoms as:
- Urinating often.
- Feeling very thirsty.
- Feeling very hungry – even though you are eating.
- Extreme fatigue.
- Blurry vision.
- Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal.
- Weight loss – even though you are eating more (type 1).
- Tingling, pain or numbness in the hands and/or feet (type 2).
Health threats of diabetes
Over time, the high blood glucose levels can cause a range of serious medical problems. Diabetes is a leading cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations (other than injury related) and new cases of blindness among adults. It can cause nerve damage, heart disease and stroke.
It can also lead to chronic wounds such as ulcers. These sores are often seen on the feet or legs.
About a quarter of people with diabetes develop a foot ulcer during their lifetimes. In some cases wounds caused by diabetes can become chronic. That means they aren’t reduced in size by at least 50 percent after four weeks of standard wound care under a health care professional’s supervision.
Additional treatment can address the chronic wound and reduce the risk of infection, which can threaten the patient’s limb and even their life.
Throughout treatment, health care professionals will continue to work together to heal the wound and preserve limb function.
Type 2 prevention tips
You can reduce your risk of diabetes by:
- Watching your weight.
- Eating healthy.
- Staying active.
Once diagnosed, a person can manage diabetes largely by following the same steps as reducing risk:
- Work closely with a health care professional.
- Eat healthy.
- Stay active.
The first step is knowing if you have diabetes. To learn more about diabetes screenings or to find out if you are eligible for them, click here.
Sarnarendra S. Miranpuri is a podiatrist at Aurora Health Center in Oshkosh, Wis.
About the Author
Sarnarendra S. Miranpuri, DPM is a podiatrist at Aurora Health Center in Oshkosh, WI.