This past week my husband has been sick, and from something that we were not able to readily put our finger on. I had concerns because he’s a borderline diabetic, so when we went to the doctor I expressed these concerns to make sure he was tested. Thankfully, after hours spent in the emergency room and a whole battery of testing, we finally learned a change was needed in his blood pressure medication, and he is on the road to recovering.
Records show that, as of 2015, more than 30 million Americans had been diagnosed with diabetes. For reference, that’s 9.4% of the population or nearly one in ten people across the country. For a condition that is so widespread, though, diabetes is often poorly understood, with people having an incomplete understanding of what causes it, how to spot it and how to treat it. To clarify the picture a little, let’s look at some of the key facts about this health condition.
Fact 1: Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are very different conditions
For anyone who has diabetes, the need to make some changes will be a major priority, but what those changes are depend on the type of diabetes. Type 1, which is an autoimmune condition, has no obvious cause and no cure, and its symptoms appear more suddenly. Type 2 is more common in those who are overweight; if it is noticed in time, or a patient is diagnosed as “pre-diabetic”, the threat of the full condition developing can be nullified. In both cases, however, symptoms are alike and treatment is primarily through synthetic insulin.
Fact 2: You can show symptoms without knowing
Many of the symptoms of diabetes – Type 1 or Type 2 – are the kind of issues that can occur on a day-to-day basis without much comment. If you feel particularly thirsty, for example, or are more than usually tired, these can both be signs of diabetes. On the more esoteric side, signs of the condition include cuts and wounds taking longer to heal, blurred vision, and urinary incontinence. The condition can be detected by blood tests, which test for a number known as your Hba1c level.
Fact 3: While Type 1 cannot be cured, it can be controlled
The positive news for people with diabetes is that the condition can be managed with some lifestyle changes. Even with Type 1, which has no clear external cause, eating well and testing your blood sugar regularly can help you stay on top of the condition. Exercise is also important, although you may need to take precautions such as timing your gym sessions or investing in the best incontinence pads for runners if your symptoms are particularly persistent. Nonetheless, the healthier your lifestyle, the less of a factor diabetes needs to be.
Fact 4: While treatable, diabetes needs to be taken seriously
Famous diabetics include Hollywood actors such as Tom Hanks and even former world leaders, so the condition need not be a bar to achievement. However, this does not mean that you should take diabetes lightly. In 2012, 1.5 million deaths worldwide were directly attributed to diabetes, while a further 2.2 million could be traced to complications of the illness such as cardiovascular complications. This isn’t just the case in less wealthy countries, either: In 2015, diabetes was the 7th-leading cause of death in America.
You simply can’t know too much about diabetes. Hopefully, some of the above information will have been of use to you. Remember: the more you know about a condition, the more you can do to prevent it becoming a problem for you, so don’t ignore the warning signs.