• Living with Diabetes: Don’t Let Your Diagnosis Get You Down

    on Jul 30th, 2017

The way we think about diabetes has changed in recent decades. Depending on your age, you probably have a different relationship with this chronic illness. People in their 50s and 60s grew up most of their lives thinking of diabetes as something that can happen to you in late middle age if you live a life of eating excess sugar and never exercising. It wasn’t incredibly common, but enough older people would end up with it. If you’re in your 20s or 30s now, you approach diabetes as something the person next to you could easily have and you’re wondering if you’re at risk right now.

Younger people are acutely aware of the rising diagnoses of diabetes in the United States. It feels like it could strike at any time. Granted, your risk is still low if you take care of yourself. But, it’s no longer a disease that strikes the older population nearly exclusively. Most people have a close friend or family member currently living with the condition. It’s important to understand, though, that while diabetes brings many more risks, it can be managed and you can live a relatively healthy life if you stick to your doctor’s orders.

How widespread is diabetes? The rate of diagnosis has skyrocketed over the past 60 years. In 1958, only 1.6 million people were living with diabetes in the United States. That’s less than 1% of the population at the time. By 2015, that number had jumped up to 23.4 million and over 7% of the population. Estimates have the rate of diagnosis to continue climbing for decades to come. The most alarming thing is more children under the age of 18 have Type 2 Diabetes than ever before.

Different types of diabetes

It’s important to note that there are multiple types of diabetes. Type I and Type 2 are how they are generally classified, with Type 2 becoming far more common as it has an adult onset. There is also gestational diabetes which we’ll touch on.

Type 1 diabetes is usually a condition you’re born with or it’s diagnosed during childhood. In some instances, it’s caught in young adulthood. In Type 1 diabetes, the body doesn’t produce enough insulin so you need to take daily insulin injections and monitor your blood sugar. Your doctor may also recommend an insulin pump.

Type 2 diabetes, the type millions of people are at risk of developing, is characterized by insulin resistance. The pancreas can’t process sugars and the body loses the ability to properly regulate blood-sugar levels. Poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, and obesity are all major risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes is really a specialty case. Some women develop diabetes while pregnant. It's believed to be related to the hormonal shift that occurs. Gestational diabetes needs to be managed to avoid complications with the pregnancy, but it generally self-resolves once the baby is born. However, it’s important to note having gestational diabetes increases your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.

Symptoms of diabetes

Symptoms are hard to pinpoint as early on you may experience no symptoms at all. It’s not until years have passed and damage begins to accumulate that you’ll notice anything is wrong. Some symptoms to keep an eye out for include frequent urination, increased thirst, fatigue, weight loss, blurred vision, tingling in extremities, and slow-healing wounds. When symptoms present, it’s usually a sign the blood sugar is not being properly managed. Symptoms can subside when blood sugar levels are under control, which is why once treatment begins you won’t necessarily feel these symptoms unless you eat the wrong thing or don’t take your diabetes medications.

Untreated diabetes brings serious health risks. Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness. It’s also a leading cause of foot amputation. Diabetes causes progressive nerve damage, which is why the eyes and the extremities can be affected so severely. Diabetes also raises the risks of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and stroke. Renal failure is another serious risk.

It can be managed

That all sounds very scary, and that’s because diabetes needs to be taken seriously. However, with your doctor’s help, you can manage your diabetes and live a relatively normal life for decades to come. It’s all in your power. Not everyone requires insulin shots, but if you are at that point, keeping to them will be critical to managing your condition.

Most importantly, life style changes like exercising regularly, eating the right foods, and living the healthiest life you can help you ward off any diabetes related complications.

Conclusion

A diabetes diagnosis can be scary and disheartening, but you can manage your condition. Book an appointment online with us today. The team at Danvers Family Doctors is here to provide you with the treatment you need so you can continue leading a happy and healthy life.

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