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DIABETES 101

Diabetes is a challenging illness that affects millions of people around the world. Uncontrolled, it can lead to other serious and debilitating diabetes conditions. A healthy diet that includes Glucerna can make an important difference in managing your diabetes every day.

This website contains information and resources to help people understand and manage diabetes better.
The more you know about diabetes, the better. Use this site to learn more about diabetes, what symptoms to watch for, and the factors that influence its onset.

Description

What is diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic illness in which the body doesn't produce enough insulin, or uses it improperly. Normally, starches, sugars and other nutrients are broken down into glucose, which is taken by the blood to cells. The cells use insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, to help convert glucose into energy. Without enough insulin, or when it is not properly used, glucose builds up in the blood and urine, which can cause numerous diabetes problems.

The cause of diabetes

The cause of diabetes is not clear. There may be a family connection, so if a parent has diabetes, his or her child may be more likely to have it, too. Lifestyle, including diet and exercise, also plays a significant role. Type 2 diabetes is more likely to occur in people who are overweight.

Types of Diabetes

Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes
People with Type 1 diabetes have insulin deficiency, which means that the body does not produce enough insulin. So nutrients taken in are not converted to energy. Typically less than 10% of people with diabetes have type 1, and most cases are diagnosed in children and young adults.

People with Type 2 diabetes have insulin resistance. The body may produce some insulin but it is not used properly. About 85% to 95% of people with diabetes worldwide have type 2. Though type 2 diabetes used to occur most frequently in older people, in recent years it is becoming more frequent in younger people and children.

Gestational Diabetes
Diabetes during pregnancy is one example of "conditional" diabetes. "Conditional" diabetes occurs in relation to certain medical conditions, such as pancreatic disease, certain genetic disorders, and pregnancy. It may be short-term, however, women with diabetes during their pregnancy have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT), or Pre-diabetes
IGT means that the body's ability to control glucose levels is not normal, but not impaired enough to be called diabetes. People with IGT are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Diagnosis of diabetes

Blood tests and symptoms are used to diagnose diabetes. FPG (fasting plasma glucose) is a test that is conducted after a patient has fasted (not had anything to eat or drink) for at least 8 hours. OGTT (oral glucose tolerance test) requires a patient to fast and then consume a glucose drink. Blood is tested 2 hours later. Blood glucose levels indicating diabetes:

  • FPG- 7 mmol/L or more
  • OGTT- 11.1 mmol/L or more
  • Casual blood glucose (done at anytime) - 11.1 mmo/L or more plus symptoms of diabetes indicates diabetes.

Usually two tests are required to confirm a diagnosis of diabetes.

Diabetes complications

People with diabetes are at increased risk for heart disease and stroke, nerve damage that can lead to pain and numbness in the hands and feet, kidney dysfunction, and eye disease.

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Symptoms of diabetes

Even though the incidence of diabetes has increased dramatically over the past several years, many people are still unaware that they have the disease. These are some of the most common symptoms of diabetes:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Weight loss, even when appetite is good
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Genital irritation, infection, itching
  • Blurred vision

Type 1 diabetes may develop quickly, with obvious symptoms. Type 2 diabetes tends to develop more slowly, and symptoms are often associated with other conditions.

Early detection of diabetes increases the chance the complications can be prevented or delayed. Some of these symptoms may seem unimportant, but the presence of even one suggests that evaluation by a healthcare professional is appropriate.

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Diabetes risk factors

  • 40 years of age or older
  • Overweight or obese
  • Family background
  • Parent or sibling with diabetes
  • History of gestational diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormal cholesterol levels
  • Inactivity

Nothing can be done about some risk factors – age or family background, for example. But others can be minimized by altering the diet, losing weight, or increasing exercise. Talk with your doctor about ways you can decrease your risk for diabetes.

How to determine your Body Mass Index (BMI):

BMI according to a variety of weights and heights is presented in the Table below. The BMI is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared. To use this chart:

  • Find the weight closest to your weight in the left-hand column.
  • Then move across the top row to find the height closest to your height.

The number where these two meet is your BMI. (For example, a person who weights 180 lbs and is 5'5", would have a BMI of 30, as would a person 6'0" and 220 lbs, or a person 5'1" and 160 lbs).

Body Mass Index (BMI) chart

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