Type 2 diabetes is a common, worldwide health condition, affecting 37.3 million people in America and 415 million people globally. This condition affects your body’s ability to produce insulin and regulate glucose, which when left untreated can lead to complications like cardiovascular disease, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and damage to your nerves, kidneys, and eyes.
With so many people struggling with diabetes (and over 8 million adults dealing with it undiagnosed), living with this condition will require understanding how it affects you and what you can do to reduce symptoms. To help, let’s examine what diabetes does to your body, its warning signs, and what you can do to manage it.
Residents of Little River, South Carolina, trying to cope with diabetes and other chronic conditions can find help from Dr. Rogers Walker and the skilled team at Walker Urgent & Family Care.
What does diabetes do to your body?
Through digestion, our bodies use acids and enzymes to break down foods. Sugar and starches from foods (carbohydrates) break down into glucose, which is released into your bloodstream. The glucose can then be used immediately to fuel cells or is stored for later use.
Insulin is a chemical produced by your pancreas when there is an increase of blood sugar in your bloodstream, and diabetes interferes with your ability to produce insulin and regulate the amount of blood glucose in your blood.
This results in your body being unable to take in enough sugar because the cells in your body aren’t working properly with the insulin your pancreas produces. Your body then develops a resistance to the chemical. An overabundance of blood glucose leads to damaging nerves and organs throughout the body. This condition can be caused by a variety of factors, such as obesity, family history, high cholesterol, and inactivity.
What are the warning signs of diabetes?
The effect of diabetes on the body can develop slowly and may initially present with no symptoms. Once the blood glucose imbalance starts affecting your body, common signs you may experience include increased hunger and thirst, frequent urination, unintended weight loss, blurred vision, frequent infection, slow healing sores, and numbness or tingling in your hands and feet.
Other factors that increase the chances of getting diabetes include age (specifically for people over 45), ethnicity (Black, Hispanic, and Pacific Islanders are more likely to get diabetes), prediabetes, and risks related to pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes.
How do you manage the condition?
Reducing symptoms and the long-term effects on your body means getting and keeping your blood sugar levels under control. Living a healthy life with diabetes means focusing on:
Carbohydrates have the biggest impact on the amount of blood glucose in your body, so reducing your intake of carbs will help lower those levels and help insulin do its job. Balanced meals with healthy amounts of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and fats as well as reducing sugars will also help stabilize insulin and blood sugar levels.
Physical activity is essential for helping to reach a healthy weight, lower cholesterol, and reduce symptoms of diabetes. Coming up with an exercise plan and sticking to it, staying hydrated, and checking your blood sugar levels can make a big difference in living longer and reducing symptoms.
Lifestyle changes like reducing the amount of alcohol you drink, not smoking, and removing as much stress as possible are all great benefits to reducing the symptoms of diabetes.
Insulin and other medications for diabetes work to stabilize insulin production and blood sugar often along with the other changes in diet and lifestyle. The amount of insulin or other medications will depend on the severity of your diabetes, and adjustment may be needed over time as your condition improves or worsens.
Diabetes is a life-changing condition that can be disastrous for your health, but it can be managed, and you can still live a happy, healthy life.
If you have the signs of diabetes, make an appointment with Dr. Walker and Walker Urgent & Family Care today to get started on the road to recovery.