Diabetes is a disease where the body cannot properly produce or use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that turns the foods you eat into energy. If your body cannot turn food into energy, not only will your cells be starved for energy, you will also build up glucose (sugar) in your blood. This will lead you to have “high blood glucose levels.” Over the years, the high blood glucose level can damage major organs like your heart, eyes, and kidneys.

According to the American Diabetes Association, there are 18.2 million people in the United States with Diabetes. That’s 6.3% of the population.

Diabetes is found in both men and women over the age of 20. About one-third of Diabetics do not know that they have it.

African Americans are 1.6 times more likely to have diabetes than Whites.

Latinos are 1.5 times more likely to have diabetes than Whites.

Type 1 is most often found in children, with the peak incidence at puberty. Type 2 is generally found in adults, however an alarmingly growing number of children are now diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes. One of the main causes is overweight.

Type 1 Diabetes is caused by a total lack of insulin that, in turn, produces high blood glucose levels. Type 1 is most often is seen in children but can develop in adults. If you have Type 1, your health care provider might recommend scheduled, nutritious meals, exercise, medication, and frequent blood sugar level tests.

Type 2 Diabetes occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or cannot properly use insulin. This is the most common type. The treatment may be similar to Type 1.

Pre Diabetes or Borderline Diabetes may occur before a Type 2 diagnosis. Blood glucose levels will be higher than normal. Good nutrition and exercise may be recommended by your health care provider as a treatment for prediabetes. Even a slightly high blood sugar level is insidious and could affect major organs over time.

Gestational Diabetes occurs in pregnant women that have high blood glucose levels. This type of Diabetes can harm both mother and baby. If you have Gestational Diabetes, your health care provider may prescribe meal plans, exercise, daily testing, and medicine.

The main symptom of diabetes is the lack of insulin activity or the inability of the body to create insulin. Other symptoms include:

1. increase in urine production.

2. blurry vision.

3. irritability

4. extreme hunger.

5. excessive weight loss.

6. increased fatigue.

Causes and Risk Factors:

The exact causes of diabetes are still unknown. However, heredity, obesity, and lack of exercise may play a role. Here are some general risk factors:

1. Your siblings or parents have diabetes.

2. You are more than 20% overweight.

3. You do not exercise.

4. You have had gestational diabetes or you have had a baby over 9 lbs.

5. You have high blood pressure.

6. Your cholesterol level is not normal.

Treatment Options:

According to the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes have the same nutritional needs as everyone else. In addition to prescribed medications, well-balanced meals may help you keep your blood glucose level as normal as possible.

Also, just like everyone else, exercise is an important part of staying healthy. Exercising with diabetes does require a few extra safety steps that your health care professional can make you aware of.

Nutritious meals, an exercise routine, along with the help of your doctor may aid you in controlling your Diabetes. Diabetes will never truly go away, but with proper nutrition, exercise, and prescribed medications, it can be controlled.

There is no cure for Diabetes, but the treatment options are becoming better than they’ve ever been. Self-monitoring devices for blood glucose levels and administering insulin are the areas that have seen the most improvement. The following are a list of new treatment options that are currently being researched:

1. Insulin Pump Implants — a permanently implanted pump that will measure blood sugar levels and deliver the exact amount of insulin needed.

2. Insulin Capsule Implant — an insulin capsule that can be implanted to continuously release insulin into the bloodstream.

3. Insulin Inhaler — a rapid-acting insulin that is inhaled into the mouth. Currently, in clinical trials.

4. Insulin Pill -—— Currently, the pill form has only been tested in animals.

5. Continuous Monitoring Device — The GlucoWatch Biographer, a wristwatch-like device, has been approved by the FDA. It is intended as a companion for the fingertip blood test to monitor glucose, in order to ensure accurate results.

6. Islet Cell Transplant — For people with Type 1 Diabetes, helps patients become insulin-free for up to 14 months after treatment. Currently, in clinical trials.

7. Gene Therapy.

8. A Diabetes Vaccine — To prevent or slow the progress of Type 1 Diabetes.