Each year, 1.5 million Americans of all ages are diagnosed with diabetes. This disorder of the metabolism is diagnosed in three different types: type 1 diabetes, in which most people diagnosed with this are born with it, type 2 diabetes, which develops through a number of external factors, and gestational diabetes, which is diagnosed in pregnant women. A woman diagnosed with gestational diabetes has a greater chance for later development of type 1 or 2 diabetes, and her child could have a higher risk of diabetes as well.
There are many risk factors that can lead to a diabetes diagnosis, whether they be biological or due to lifestyle habits. Those with a family history of any type of diabetes are at an increased risk of developing it themselves. This can also be said for those of various ethnic backgrounds such as Hispanic/Latino, African-American, Native American, Asian-American, Pacific Islander, or Alaska native. Another major risk factor is being obese or overweight, as excess weight can lead to insulin resistance. As the numbers of Americans of all ages who are obese have increased, there has been a rise in those diagnosed with diabetes.
There are many complications that diabetics may face after a diagnosis. On top of daily hardships that may come with a diagnosis, diabetics face higher risks of many other health complications. The risk of heart disease and stroke is multiplied for someone with diabetes. In fact, a diabetic is two to four times more likely to die from heart disease than those without diabetes.
Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in working-age adults. Diabetic retinopathy is a classification of different eye conditions containing glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic macular edema that are all caused by diabetes. If diabetes is not managed correctly, these conditions can lead to vision loss and blindness.
Complications from Medications for Diabetes
There are also several complications that can come with medications used to treat diabetes. Most of these side effects are mild and patients tend to get used to them or they may disappear with time as the body gets used to the medication. However, there are medications, prescribed to diabetics, that have more severe side effects. Certain SGLT2 inhibitors, commonly used to help with glucose management, are reported to increase risk of major health complications such as serious genital infections, need for lower-limb amputations, and diabetic ketoacidosis.
Diabetic ketoacidosis is a result of inadequate glucose in the blood when the body uses fat in place of insulin. This causes a buildup of acids that are poisonous. Diabetic ketoacidosis can happen as a result of not only medication complications, but also is seen in type one diabetics frequently. As a result, most type 1 diabetics are prescribed insulin treatment; patients give themselves regular insulin injections to help manage their glucose and insulin levels.
Are You Aware of Diabetes Common Symptoms
Symptoms of diabetes are usually nonexistent or so mild that they are often missed. Common diabetes symptoms include blurred vision, increased thirst, and rapid weight change. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, consult your physician right away.
Diabetes can also be prevented with a few lifestyle changes. Doctors recommend regular, moderate physical activity of 30 minutes, five days a week to not only prevent diabetes but also to help manage diabetes in patients already diagnosed. This can be anything from attending aerobics classes at the local gym to daily walks with the family dog. Another recommendation doctors frequently give is to change your diet to exclude sugary drinks and treats and include more low-fat, nutrient-rich foods. These lifestyle changes will also help prevent many other health conditions aside from diabetes.
A diagnosis of diabetes can be life-changing, but most patients live happy and healthy lives. By following recommended treatment plans, researching prescribed medications, and consulting your physician with any changes, diabetes can be easily managed. If you have any questions surrounding your risk of diabetes, speak with your doctor right away.