Do you know what to look for?
Learn the early warning signs of diabetes from the American Diabetes Association. Early detection and treatment can decrease the risk of developing the complications.
If you or someone you care for has diabetes, it's natural to feel like you’re on a rollercoaster of emotions—fear, anger, guilt, curiosity. You might ask, How will this impact the rest of my life? Should I have seen it coming? Did I do anything to contribute to it? What can I do now to promote a long, healthy life? Luckily, there are many steps you can take right now to lower the risk for diabetes-related health problems.
By getting the correct treatment and making certain lifestyle changes, many people with diabetes prevent or delay the onset of serious complications, such as heart disease or stroke. The actions you take to alter eating habits, lifestyle, and your activity level can have long-lasting positive effects on all of your lives when shared with family and friends.
Diabetes is a complex group of diseases with various causes. Very simply, diabetes is a problem within the body that causes blood glucose levels to rise higher than normal. Glucose is a form of sugar that enters the bloodstream. High blood glucose is also called hyperglycemia.
Another way to think of diabetes is as a metabolism disorder—the way the body uses digested food for energy is faulty. The digestive tract breaks down carbohydrates (sugars and starches found in many foods) into glucose. With the help of the hormone insulin, cells throughout the body absorb glucose and use it for energy. Diabetes develops when the body doesn’t make enough insulin, or is not able to use insulin effectively, or both.
There are three main types of diabetes—genetics play a role in all three:
Insulin attaches to insulin receptors, allowing glucose to enter the cell and be used as energy.
Diabetes type 1
The pancreas does not produce insulin. Glucose is unable to enter the cell and remains in the bloodstream.
Diabetes type 2
Receptors become desensitized to insulin. Glucose is unable to enter the cell and remains in the bloodstream.
Having diabetes puts you at greater risk for serious health issues, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, dental disease, and amputations (due to circulation issues). People with diabetes are more than twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke. The best way to take care of your health is to work with your healthcare team to keep your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels within your optimal range. Making changes now to manage diabetes also can prevent serious problems with your blood vessels, heart, nerves, kidneys, mouth, eyes, and feet.
Diabetes can affect every part of the body. If you have any of these symptoms, don’t wait to get them checked out by a doctor. Early detection and treatment can decrease the risk of developing complications from diabetes.
The symptoms and progression of diabetes can differ widely from person to person. A home care professional can assist with meal planning, food preparation, initiating new activities, connecting you with others living with diabetes, and exercising safely. The main benefit of home care is enabling a person with diabetes to continue to live independently at home with the help of a compassionate, trained professional.
When someone you love is diagnosed with diabetes, you can play a large part in developing and sticking to a lifelong management plan, which will be necessary for their well-being. Though diabetes is common, every individual needs specialized care. Your role can vary depending on your relationship with the diabetic person, their lifestyle, and how the condition is affecting them.