What is Diabetes?

What is Diabetes?

Universal blue circle symbol for diabetes. Vector illustration.

Diabetes is a chronic, often debilitating and sometimes fatal disease, in which the body either cannot produce insulin or cannot properly use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that controls the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Diabetes leads to high blood sugar levels, which can damage organs, blood vessels and nerves. The body needs insulin to use sugar as an energy source.There are many signs and symptoms that can indicate diabetes.Signs and symptoms can include the following:

  • Unusual thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Weight change (gain or loss)
  • Extreme fatigue or lack of energy
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent or recurring infections
  • Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
  • Trouble getting or maintaining an erection

If you have any of these symptoms, it is important to contact your health-care provider right away. Even if you don’t have symptoms, if you are 40 or older, you should still get checked.

What are the risk factors for type 2 diabetes?

Anyone over the age of 40 should be tested for diabetes every three years. Anyone who has one or more risk factors should be tested more frequently. Risk factors are:

  • Having a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes;
  • Being a member of a high-risk group (Aboriginal, Hispanic, South Asian, Asian, or African descent);
  • Having health complications that are associated with diabetes;
  • Having given birth to a baby that weighed more than four kilograms (nine pounds) at birth or having had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy);
  • Having been diagnosed with prediabetes (impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose);
  • Having high blood pressure;
  • Having high cholesterol or other fats in the blood;
  • Being overweight, especially if that weight is mostly carried around the tummy;
  • Having been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome;
  • Having been diagnosed with Acanthosis nigricans (darkened patches of skin);
  • Having been diagnosed with psychiatric disorders: schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder;
  • Having been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea;
  • Having been prescribed a glucocorticoid medication by a doctor.

- See more at: http://www.diabetes.ca , contact the Neqotkuk Health Center @ 273-5430 or speak to your family doctor.