Diabetes is a disorder that affects the way the body uses digested food for growth and energy. Normally, most food is broken down into glucose (sugar). The glucose is absorbed into the blood stream, where it is used by cells for growth and energy. Insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas, must be present for glucose to enter the cells. People with diabetes either do not produce enough insulin or the insulin they produce is not used effectively by fat, muscle and liver cells. The results are a build-up of glucose (sugar) in the blood, which overflows into the urine, passes out of the body, without fulfilling its role as the body’s fuel source.
There are 3 main types of diabetes, type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes:
- Type 1 diabetes was previously called insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) or juvenile-onset diabetes and may account for 5%-10% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Risks for developing type 1 diabetes may involve autoimmune, genetic, and/or environmental factors.
- Type 2 diabetes was previously called non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) or adult-onset diabetes and may account for about 90%-95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Risks for developing type 2 diabetes include: older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, prior history of GDM, impaired glucose tolerance, physical inactivity, and race/ethnicity.
- Gestational diabetes (GDM) develops in 2%-5% of all pregnancies, but usually goes away when the pregnancy is over. GDM occurs more often in certain racial/ethnic groups and obese women are at a higher risk for GDM. Women who have had GDM are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
- Pre-diabetes, also called impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose, occurs when your blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. Having pre-diabetes puts you at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes. You are also at increased risk for developing heart disease.
Preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes is possible, recent studies have shown that regular physical activity and modest weight loss can significantly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if:
- You are overweight
- You are 45 years or older
- You have a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes
- Your family background is African American, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic American/Latino, or Pacific Islander.
- You had gestational diabetes or gave birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
- Your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, or you have been told you have high blood pressure
- Your HDL cholesterol is 35 or lower, or your triglyceride level is 250 or higher
- You are fairly inactive, or you exercise fewer than three times a week
About 16 million people between the ages of 40 and 74 in United States have pre-diabetes. Most of them are likely to develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years, unless they take steps to prevent or delay diabetes. The results of the Diabetes Prevention Program tell us that millions of high risk people can use diet, exercise, and behavior modification to avoid developing type 2 diabetes.
Symptoms of Diabetes
If you think you might have diabetes visit your physician for diagnosis. You might have SOME or NONE of the following symptoms:
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Unexplained weight loss
- Extreme hunger
- Sudden vision changes
- Tingling and numbness in hands or feet
- Feeling very tired much of the time
- Very dry skin
- Sores that are slow to heal
- More infections than usual
Diabetes is a common, serious, costly, and controllable disease that affects thousands of individuals in Kentucky and poses a major public health problem. Much of the sickness and death associated with diabetes can be eliminated through treatment approaches including normalization of blood glucose levels, routine physician visits, self-management training, a yearly dilated eye exam, routine foot exams, and A1C checks.
The following information provides statistical data relating to diabetes in Kentucky as well as our nation: