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Recognizing the Signs of Diabetes

Aug 17, 2007
While diabetes was once recognized as an unfortunate disease that only affected a small number of people, today statistics indicate that more than 18 million people in the United States alone suffer from this disease. Perhaps even more startling is the fact that almost one-third of those individuals may remain undiagnosed, largely to the failure to recognize the most common warning signs related to this disease. In order to increase the treatment of this health issue it is important to understand how diabetes affects the body and the resulting symptoms that may appear.

Individuals with diabetes are not able to produce or utilize insulin, which is a hormone the body requires in order to process starches and sugar into energy the body needs for most life activities. There are actually four different kinds of diabetes. Juvenile diabetes, also referred to as Type 1 diabetes is commonly first recognized in young adulthood or even earlier. This type of diabetes occurs as a direct result of the body being unable to produce insulin.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin. Unlike Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes can be diagnosed at any time. Studies do indicate; however, that some populations may be more at risk for this form of diabetes than others. The elderly appear to be highly at risk as well as Latinos, African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans and Pacific Islanders.

A third type of diabetes occurs during pregnancy; usually in a situation in which the patient has no prior history of diabetes. The number of women who suffer from this type of diabetes is relatively small; however it can be quite serious to both the mother and baby.

The final type of diabetes is actually pre-diabetes, which is a term that is used to describe a situation in which blood glucose levels are abnormally high, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as full diabetes. When pre-diabetes is allowed to continue without treatment, major organs can be damaged over a long period of time.

One of the reasons that diabetes symptoms can be difficult to recognize is the fact that they can appear either gradually over a long period of time or dramatically and suddenly. Some of the symptoms that may be noticed include fatigue, frequent urination and excessive thirst. In some cases, sudden weight loss, urinary tract infections and blurred vision may also be noticed.

Due to the fact that diabetes can lead to a number of serious health issues such as blindness, heart disease and nerve and kidney damage, it is extremely important that you be tested for diabetes if you suffer from symptoms associated with the disease. While these symptoms are commonly associated with diabetes, keep in mind that in some cases diabetes presents absolutely no signs or symptoms. Therefore, if you are over the age of 45 or fall into a high risk category, you should make a point to be tested for diabetes at least once every couple of years.

The test for diabetes is relatively simple and quick; measuring the level of glucose levels in the blood. For an accurate measurement the test must be performed in the morning before food is consumed. Pre-diabetes levels typically fall between 100 and 125 while full diabetes levels are indicated by blood glucose levels above 125.

While some diabetes cases may require medication in order to correct the situations, others can be monitored with lifestyle changes, such as weight loss and diet changes.
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