Diabetes: What You Should Know about This Serious Disease

Diabetes is a serious problem throughout America. Over 25.8 million American children and adults are diabetic, which equates to 8.3 percent of our population. When doctors discuss diabetes, they are usually referring to one of two types of diabetes  – type 1 and type 2. Both can be dangerous and have real consequences if not diagnosed and properly treated.

Though type 1 diabetes can be diagnosed at any age, most often it is diagnosed in children, teens or young adults. The cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown, but doctors believe it is due to an autoimmune disorder and is passed down through families. The onset of type 1 diabetes is usually very quick and can endanger a person’s life if symptoms are not recognized quickly. For those diagnosed with type 1, the pancreas does not produce insulin or enough insulin to help the body process blood sugar (glucose) into energy.

A patient with type 1 diabetes will work with their doctor to monitor their blood sugar levels by testing the blood and taking insulin shots accordingly. Type 1 is very manageable with a doctor’s guidance, insulin injections, healthy diet and regular exercise. A person with type 1 diabetes can live a healthy life for many years to come.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease and is estimated to affect 90 to 95 percent of those diagnosed with diabetes. With type 2, the body begins to resist insulin and is unable to use insulin properly.  This happens over time and happens most often to people who are overweight or obese and do not get regular exercise. With Type 2 diabetes, your fat, liver and muscle cells are insulin resistant, which means they are unable to correctly respond to insulin.

Fortunately, for type 2 diabetes there are proven ways to prevent or delay the onset. The CDC reports that lifestyle changes such as losing weight and increasing physically activity will reduce the development of type 2 diabetes by 58 percent. Bariatric surgery has also been show to help patients with type 2 diabetes. Two recently published studies in the New England Medical Journal have shown that type 2 diabetes patients who underwent weight loss surgery, such as gastric bypass or sleeve gastectomy, experienced remission from the disease. This is good news for those who have struggled with weight problems and diabetes.

Though recent research is good news for many, diabetes continues to be a very serious problem across the country. If diabetes is not treated or controlled, the complications of the disease are quite severe. Patients who resist taking care of themselves over a period of time can experience any of the following:

  • Heart disease and stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Blindness
  • Kidney disease
  • Nervous system disease (neuropathy)
  • Amputation of a limb – usually foot or leg

If you are concerned about your risks of diabetes and struggled with your weight, don’t hesitate. Call Hallmark Health System’s Center of Weight Loss Management and Weight Loss Surgery at (781) 306-6166 or plan to attend one of our free monthly information seminars.

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