Answers To Diabetes Questions

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As many as 20 million Americans suffer from diabetes. Despite its prevalence, many people don't know much about the disease or even know they have it. The Saturday Early Show's Dr. Mallika Marshall reported the final part of a three-part series about diabetes, with answers to the most frequently asked questions about the disease.

Type 1 diabetes used to be known as juvenile diabetes because it's often diagnosed in children and young adults. With Type 1 diabetes, the body doesn't produce insulin, a hormone the body needs to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy. A person with Type 1 diabetes requires daily injections of insulin.

Type 2 diabetes is also known as adult onset diabetes. It is the most common form of the disease. People with Type 2 diabetes don't produce enough insulin, or the body doesn't effectively use the insulin that is produced.

Gestational diabetes sometimes is developed by pregnant women. It often goes away after the baby is born and, if controlled properly, it won't affect the health of the unborn child. Women with gestational diabetes are more likely to develop diabetes later in life, though.

What are the symptoms of diabetes?
Many people don't have any symptoms at all, but certain symptoms should tip you off that there may be a problem.

  • Increased Thirst
  • Blurry Vision
  • Weight Loss
  • Frequent Urination
  • Fatigue

    What are the symptoms that are particular to Type 2 diabetes?

  • Slow-Healing Wounds
  • Infections
  • Weight Gain
  • Skin Discoloration

    What are the risk factors for diabetes?

  • Family History: Many people don't know this, but some forms of diabetes do run in families. Now this doesn't mean that if your parents have the disease you will automatically get it too. It just means that you will be more likely to. The good news is that there are lifestyle changes you can make that can help stave off certain forms of the disease.
  • Race: Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans are all at a greater risk than Caucasians.
  • Age: studies have shown that people over age 45 are more apt to get diabetes.
  • Excess Weight: This is the biggest risk factor.
  • High Blood Pressure or Cholesterol

    Can you get diabetes from eating too much sugar?
    This is a medical myth that has persisted for years. And it is not true. You cannot get diabetes from eating too much sugar. That said, eating too much sugar can wreck your teeth and cause you to gain weight.

    What's the most effective way to treat diabetes?
    Unfortunately, there is no cure for diabetes. It can be managed very effectively, though. People with Type 1 diabetes can keep the disease in check with daily injections of insulin and other medications. People with Type 2 diabetes should exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet. If these alone don't control blood sugar levels, then medications can help control the illness. It's very important to control diabetes because failure to do so can lead to serious problems including heart and kidney disease as well as nerve damage and blindness.

    For much more on type 2 diabetes, from the American Diabetes Association, click here.