What is diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes (Juvenile Diabetes):
This is caused when the body’s immune system kills insulin-producing cells in the pancreas known as beta cells. Insulin is a hormone which allows the body to use food for energy. Without functioning beta cells, there is no insulin production. This allows glucose, a simple sugar, to spill into the bloodstream instead of going into the cells. Insulin injections are required in order to control blood glucose levels. Good control helps reduce the risk of other complications such as nerve damage, loss of eyesight, as well as kidney and heart disease. Symptoms to look for are intense thirst, frequent urination, sudden weight loss, and blurred vision. It is important to seek medical help immediately if any of these signs are present.
Type 2 diabetes:
This is the most common form of diabetes. It is characterized by high blood sugar levels or hyperglycemia. In the case of type two diabetes, your body still produces insulin but cannot use it properly. This is called insulin resistance. At first, your body will compensate by producing extra insulin. But, over time it cannot maintain high levels of production and the pancreas slows down. At this point, it is not making enough insulin to keep your blood sugar levels normal. To help control type two diabetes, medication is often recommended. It is also important to make healthy lifestyle changes. Physical activity for at least 20 minutes per day and losing 5-7% of body weight have shown to make improvements in blood sugar control. As with type one diabetes, this helps reduce the risk of other health complications.
This only occurs during pregnancy, usually around week 24. Diagnosis is usually made due to routine blood test results. Prior to that, there may be no symptoms. This is usually a temporary condition that will last throughout the remainder of the pregnancy. It does increase the risk of developing type two diabetes later in life. It is important to follow the advice of the physician in controlling blood sugar levels during pregnancy for the health of the mother and baby. After pregnancy, maintaining an active lifestyle and healthy weight will decrease the risk of developing type two diabetes.
1 in 3 Utahns has prediabetes (and most don’t know it). Prediabetes is a diagnosis where blood sugar levels are elevated above normal, but not high enough to be considered diabetes. This condition that rarely shows any symptoms. It does increase the risk of developing into type two diabetes and can often be improved through diet and lifestyle. When this occurs, it is important to follow the advice of a health care professional to help make necessary changes.
How is Tobacco Use Related to Diabetes?
Tobacco use increases your chance of having type 2 diabetes. But no matter what type of diabetes you have tobacco makes your diabetes harder to control. For example, tobacco can interfere with how your insulin works and puts you at higher risks for serious complications including:
- Heart Disease
- Kidney Disease
- Poor blood flow in the legs and feet that can lead to foot infections, ulcers, and possible amputation
- Retinopathy (an eye disease that can cause blindness)
- Peripheral neuropathy (damaged nerves to the arms and legs that causes numbness, pain, weakness, and poor coordination)
If you use any type of tobacco and you have diabetes decide to quit. When you do you will immediately start to see the benefits. People with diabetes who quit tobacco have better control of their blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that insulin resistance can start to decrease 8 weeks after quitting, and recovery from surgery can happen faster.
For information on quitting call 1-800-QUIT.NOW or visit utahquitnet.com
Emma Peterson, CHES®