5 Things You Need to Know About Diabetes

Almost everyone has heard of diabetes, but what does it actually mean? Maybe your parents have it, or maybe it’s your aunts and uncles, siblings or friends. No matter who it is, it is important to understand what it is and what you can do to help! November is diabetes awareness month, so it’s the perfect time to educate yourself on what having diabetes means.

What even is diabetes?

 

Scientifically speaking, diabetes is a disease that impairs the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin, which results in an abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated levels of glucose in the blood and urine.

Okay, but what does that mean?

Diabetes is a disease that curbs a person from producing insulin, a natural hormone in a person’s pancreas. Insulin breaks down sugars and carbohydrates in a person to maintain a healthy blood sugar level. Without insulin, diabetics will have to deal with fluctuation  in their blood sugar levels. When their blood sugar gets too high, they will feel sleepy and lethargic. Their minds will also become somewhat fuzzy. When their blood sugar gets too low, they will feel dizzy, shaky and sometimes nauseous. That said, diabetic people need injections of insulin to prevent what could be life-threatening medical emergencies.

 

What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, is hereditary and incurable as of now. The person is born with a deficient pancreas and will have to rely on injected insulin for the rest of their life. Type 2 diabetes, however, is caused by primarily by obesity and lack of exercise. The disease is the same, but the person will have a chance of curing it with diet changes and increased exercise  if he/she is diagnosed type 2.

 

How is diabetes managed?

There are multiple ways to manage diabetes; but they all require insulin. Type 1 diabetics can either give themselves injections of insulin multiple times a day or get insulin pumps that slowly drip insulin into them 24/7. They can also opt for an artificial pancreas. On the other hand, Metformin helps regulate blood sugar levels for type 2 diabetics. But they, too, can perform insulin injections. With a healthy diet and regular exercise, most type 2 diabetics have a good chance of managing their diabetes with fewer medications.

 

Diabetics just can’t have sugar, right?

 

 

Wrong! While high-sugar foods are not the best for diabetics, it is carbohydrates that they have to really look out for. Carbohydrates turn into sugars in our bloodstream, so someone with diabetes will have to be more aware of carbs than they are of sugars when they are reading the nutrition label of a product.

 

What does diabetes have to do with me?

Even if you do not have diabetes or directly know someone with diabetes, there are always ways to help! Donating to the JDRF Foundation or raising awareness for diabetes are some ways you can help improve the lives of people with diabetes!

 

 

 

Now that you know more about diabetes, you, too, should spread awareness about this disease that may be affecting many friends and family you know!