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Signs You Have Diabetes, Say Physicians

Doctor explains what to know about diabetes and why cases are on the rise. 
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

Diabetes is on the rise in the U.S. and cases are at a record high. Chances are you know someone with the disease since over 37 million Americans, or 1 in 10 people have diabetes according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and describes the diabetes as "a chronic (long-lasting) health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. Most people's bodies naturally produce the hormone insulin, which helps convert sugars from the food we eat into energy that the body can use or store for later. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn't make insulin or doesn't use its insulin well, causing your blood sugar to rise. High blood sugar levels can cause serious health problems over time. With type 1 diabetes, the body can't make insulin. If you're diagnosed with type 1, you'll need to take insulin every day to survive. With type 2 diabetes, your body doesn't use insulin well. The good news is that type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with healthy lifestyle changes." In spite of what many think, diabetes isn't a childhood condition or something older people get. Anyone at any age can get it and Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Dr. Bayo Curry-Winchell, Urgent Care Medical Director and Physician, Carbon Health, and Saint Mary's Hospital, who explained what to know about diabetes and what the signs are that you might have the harmful health condition. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

What Causes Diabetes?

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Dr. Curry-Winchell shares, "Diabetes can be caused by the immune system which is a network within your body that normally keeps you healthy. The immune system starts attacking the body targeting the pancreas, an (organ that produces a hormone) called insulin. Insulin is designed to help your body process or break down the sugar (glucose) you consume. When this happens, it is referred to as Type 1 diabetes and commonly associated with children, teens, and young adults.

A secondary cause of diabetes is referred to as Type 2 diabetes in which the hormone (insulin) is unable to regulate the amount of blood sugar in your body. The best way to think about it is to imagine a thermostat in your house that is normally set to a specific temperature based on the weather. The thermostat is no longer producing AC or heat.

 The best way to prevent Type 2 diabetes is to eat a well-balanced meal and participate in daily exercise. Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that is new and not associated with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. It is caused by the body not being able to process elevated levels of blood sugar."

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2

Who is at Risk for Diabetes and Why?

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Dr. Curry-Winchell says, "Type 1 diabetes is typically found in children, adolescents, and young adults however you can develop this type at any age. There is an association with patients developing. Type 1 diabetes that had a family history of someone (i.e., parent or sibling with the disease). Type 2 diabetes is typically diagnosed in those that are overweight and not actively participating in low to moderate forms of exercise."

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3

Why is Diabetes Becoming More Common?

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According to Dr. Curry-Winchell, "It's multifactorial and related to the options and choices people choose as snacks and daily meals. The pandemic has played a role in increasing risks of developing diabetes through stay-at-home orders, change in work distribution, and increased comfort/emotional eating." 

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4

How Can Diabetes Affect Your Daily Life?

Doctor with glucometer and insulin pen device talking to male patient at medical office in hospital.
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Dr. Curry-Winchell explains, "Most people with diabetes are living full lives. If your diabetes is not under control, it can affect your energy, ability to concentrate, mood, appetite and cause organ damage leading to complications that can require hospitalization. Diabetes increases your overall risks to ward off other illnesses and infections therefore it's important to have a health care provider keep a close eye on your health status." 

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5

Frequent Urination and Thirst

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Dr. Curry-Winchell reveals, "Because you have increased blood sugar circulating throughout your body it places a strain on your kidneys affecting your ability to get rid of the increased sugar in your body."

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6

Fatigue

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"The increased blood sugar in the body which normally would be converted for energy is stationary which leads to fatigue due to unused glucose within the body," says Dr. Curry-Winchell.

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7

Blurred Vision

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Dr. Curry-Winchell states, "Extra blood sugar is harmful to your eyesight causing damage to part of your eyes needed for vision which can affect a person's ability to focus."  

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Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more
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