Lavern Davidhizar, DO
What is Diabetes? (Signs, Symptoms, and Risk Factors)
Do you suspect you might have diabetes? How can you tell? Symptoms of diabetes
can be mild, you might not even know you have them. In some cases, Soldotna,
Alaska residents have diabetes without knowing it until the disease causes longterm
damage. To increase your chances of recognizing if you have the disease or
not, it’s a good idea to learn the signs of diabetes.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a type of disease that affects your blood sugar, or blood glucose,
causing it to get too high. You get your glucose from the types of food you eat. A
hormone known as insulin helps your cells get glucose to produce energy.
Today, there are over 59,000 Alaskan residents that live with diabetes and over
194,000 who are living with pre-diabetes. Around 79 million people in 2010 who
are over the age of 20 years old were diagnosed with prediabetes. If this trend
continues, it's estimated that by the year of 2050, one in three Americans will have
There are three common types of diabetes: Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, and
gestational diabetes. The latter is a type of diabetes that some pregnant women
get during their second trimester. Around 90 percent of people who have the
disease have type 2 diabetes. Five percent have Type 1 and around four percent
are women with gestational diabetes.
Your body doesn't produce insulin when you have Type 1 diabetes. With the more
common type of the disease, Type 2 diabetes, your body isn't producing or using
insulin well. When you don't have enough insulin, glucose remains in your blood.
When you have a higher than normal blood sugar level, but it's not quite high
enough, this is referred to as pre-diabetes and increases your risk of ending up with
diabetes Type 2.
Even though you can develop Type 1 diabetes at any age, usually its onset happens
when you are a child or during your adolescent years. The more common type of
diabetes, Type 2, develops at any age, but it tends to be more common in people
40 years old or older.
Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes
Diabetes symptoms for Type 1 may suddenly begin in only a few weeks. Type 2
diabetes symptoms tend to start off slow, usually developing over several years.
The symptoms could be very mild making it hard to even notice them. In some
cases, you might not have any symptoms at all. Some Alaskans don't find out they
have diabetes until they begin experiencing sores that don’t heal, blurred vision or
other health problems related to the disease.
Symptoms and signs of diabetes (both Types 1 and 2) you might experience
Weight loss that is unexplained
Ketones (fat and muscle breakdown when you're not getting enough insulin)
present in your urine
Frequent vaginal, skin, gum or other infections
While you might experience an increase in how often you urinate or an increase in
thirst, there are often no overly noticeable symptoms or signs of gestational
diabetes, which is why it's very important that you have screening tests done when
you are pregnant.
Diagnostic testing is the only sure way to confirm if you have diabetes or not. After
being tested, your blood test numbers will tell you if you are prediabetic, have
diabetes or don't have the disease. Knowing as soon as possible is key to effective
Diabetes can cause damage to your body, which is often long-term due to your
uncontrolled blood sugar levels. Serious problems can arise over time when you
have high levels of glucose in your blood. Some problems may include damage to
your nerves, eyes, and kidneys. Diabetes can also lead to stroke, heart disease, or
having to have a limb removed.
This means that if you take medication that controls your blood sugar level and
change your eating habits, you can delay any diabetes-related long-term damage.
This is why it’s crucial you get tested and treated right promptly.
Risk Factors of Diabetes
There are a number of diabetes risk factors to consider. According to the
International Diabetes Federation, some types of risk factors to consider for both
diabetes types are as follows.
Type 1 Diabetes
Although still being researched, Type 1 diabetes risk factors could include exposure
to certain viral infections, environmental factors, and having another family
member that has the disease .
The risk factors of developing gestational diabetes during pregnancy include:
having prediabetes prior to pregnancy.
having high blood pressure.
having a family history of Type 2 diabetes.
having gestational diabetes in previous pregnancies.
Type 2 Diabetes
This type of diabetes has a number of risk factors including:
Having a family history of the disease.
Not eating healthy.
Not being physically active enough.
IGT or impaired glucose tolerance.
Not eating well while pregnant.
Family history of gestational diabetes.
Having high blood pressure
There are things you can do to help lower your risk of getting this disease.
Lower Your Risk of Getting Diabetes
An important role in your treatment is monitoring your blood sugar and oral and
insulin medications, depending on which diabetes type you have. Other ways to
manage your diabetes include:
Watching your Weight. Diabetes Type 2 and complications associated with it like
unhealthy cholesterol, heart disease, high blood glucose and high blood pressure
can be managed or prevented by maintaining a healthy weight.
Healthy Eating. A healthy diet is imperative when you have Type 2 diabetes, but it
can also lower your risk of getting the disease if you don't already have it.
Physical Activity. Being physically active is always important and can do wonders
for you, even if you have not been that active recently.
It can be really frustrating and hard to live with diabetes. No matter how well you
keep an eye on your diet, you can still end up with high blood sugar levels.
However, sticking to the diabetes management plan that your Soldotna doctor puts
in place for you can make a positive difference in your blood sugar levels and your
If you are above the age of 40, have a family history of diabetes or have other risks
associated with the disease, you should get yourself tested right away. Tests are
important for screening, diagnosing, and showing you how well you manage your
diabetes. When you get an early diagnosis, you can avoid heart trouble, nerve
damage, and other complications resulting from the disease.
The clinicians and staff at Family Medical Clinic are here for your diabetic testing, diagnosis, and treatment needs. Call us to day at (907) 262-7566.