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What is Diabetes?

UPublish story by Cynthia Hankin

Before diabetes: Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have "prediabetes"--blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. There are 57 million people in the United States who have prediabetes. Recent research has shown that some long term damage to the body, especially the heart and circulatory system, may already be occurring during prediabetes. Diet and exercise can improve your glucose numbers, thereby prolonging time before you may need to go on to medication. Some doctors say that just losing 10% of your body weight may show great improvement. Some people, however, may be in this category because of genetic tendencies, and not due to being overweight or inactive. As always, information and working with your doctor will help you choose what course of action is best for you.

There are two types of diabetes:

Type 1: Diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. Only 5 to 10% of people with diabetes have this form of the disease. With the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, even young children with type 1 diabetes and can learn to manage their condition and live ling, healthy, happy lives.

Type 2: diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. Millions of Americans have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and many more are unaware they are at high risk. Some groups have a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes than others. Type 2 diabetes is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, as well as the aged population.

In type 2 diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells of the body ignore the insulin. Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use glucose for energy. When you eat food, the body breaks down all of the sugars and starches into glucose, which is the basic fuel for the cells of the body. Insulin takes sugar from the blood and puts it into cells. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into the cells it can lead to diabetes complications.

Another reason for diabetes is pregnancy. Usually at around 28 weeks or later, may women are diagnosed with gestational diabetes. A diagnosis of gestational diabetes doesn't mean that you have had diabetes before you conceived. But it is important to follow your doctor's advice regarding your blood glucose (blood sugar levels) while you are planning your pregnancy, so both you and the baby remain healthy.

Diabetes often goes undiagnosed because many of its symptoms seem so harmless. Recent studies indicate that the early detection of diabetes symptoms and treatment can decrease the chance of developing the complications of diabetes.


Type 1

Frequent urination, unusual thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, extreme fatigue and irritability.

Type 2

Any of type 1 symptoms, frequent infections, blurred vision, cuts or bruises that are slow to heal, tingling or numbness in the hands or feet, recurring skin, gum or bladder infections.

And sometimes people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms at all.

At Medina Vision and Laser Centre, ( we encourage you to have a yearly visit with your primary care doctor, along with your annual vision exam. There are many ways in which you can help yourself have a longer and healthier life. Taking care of problems before they get bigger is always better than waiting. We hope this article gives you a bit of an understanding about diabetes. We did not go into all of the scary statistics and stories of what can go wrong if you do not choose to control your diabetes. If you want to know about those, your doctor can tell you the many complications that can arise from lack of care. There is also more information available on the web at ; as well as a local Cleveland connection at

Be well, look after yourselves, and if something is worrying you, check it out!

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