There are two primary types of diabetes - type 1 and type 2. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease that tends to develop in childhood, although it can also develop in adults. In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks the healthy cells of the pancreas, impairing or destroying the organ’s ability to produce insulin, a chemical necessary for regulating blood sugar (glucose). Type 2 is a metabolic disorder that occurs most often in obese patients. In type 2, the body is unable to use or process insulin correctly, resulting in increased glucose levels. Type 2 once occurred almost solely in adults, but rising rates of childhood obesity have resulted in an increase in type 2 diabetes amongst kids during the past decade or so. A third type of diabetes, gestational diabetes, develops during pregnancy in some moms-to-be.
The symptoms of diabetes can vary depending on the type, but all types have some similar symptoms, including:
Symptoms can be subtle, especially in people with type 2 diabetes. Having regular blood tests is the best way to keep track of your glucose levels, especially as you get older.
When diabetes isn’t properly managed, it can cause damage to your nerves and your blood vessels, and those issues can cause widespread damage throughout your body. Many people with diabetes wind up having permanent vision loss, as the increased blood sugar levels damage the tiny vessels in the eyes -- people with diabetes are more likely to have glaucoma, cataracts, and retina problems. People with diabetes are also much more likely to have kidney damage, as well as nerve and blood vessel damage in their feet that can wind up increasing the risk of amputations. Plus, the disease is also associated with an increased risk for heart disease, skin problems, hearing loss, and even cognitive problems like Alzheimer’s disease.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that requires lifelong management to prevent complications. Dr. McKenzie helps patients stay healthy with regular exams and blood tests to help them keep their blood sugar levels under control. Insulin (either pills or injections) and lifestyle changes, like losing weight and eating a healthy diet, can also help. Your treatment plan will be created especially for you so you can enjoy optimal health as you age.
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