American Diabetes Association Diabetes Alert Day® is March 26, 2019. Diabetes is one of the most common health issues in the United States. Although most people have heard some information about Type 2 diabetes, you like many others, might be surprised what you don’t know. In recent years, the ongoing research has provided many improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes, which has allowed for much better management as well as prevention. Here are just a few of the things everyone should know about diabetes.

Diabetes is a Chronic Condition and There Currently Isn’t a Cure

Basically, diabetes is a condition that occurs when the body struggles with managing blood sugar levels. It is caused by your body’s inability to either use or make insulin, which is a hormone that regulates the blood sugar. As a result, one of two things happen, either the body does not make enough of any insulin or the cells in your body are resistant and cannot effectively use the insulin being created. If your body isn’t using insulin to metabolize glucose (a simple sugar), it builds up in the blood, causing high levels of blood sugar which prevents the cells in your body from getting the energy required to function properly. Diabetes is a chronic condition and there is no cure, so it requires careful management and often times, medication, in order to keep the blood sugar levels within a targeted range.

You Don’t Have to be Overweight to Develop Type 2 Diabetes

One of the most common misconceptions about Type 2 diabetes is that you won’t get it unless you are older, overweight and inactive. Research has shown that the condition is also becoming a concern for those who are thin and young. Although about 15% percent of those with type 2 diabetes aren’t overweight, it does not mean that they are healthy. In other words, looking healthy on the outside, doesn’t always mean you are healthy on the inside. There are various unhealthy habits that may trick your body into thinking it is overweight and/or unhealthy, which puts you at risk of developing diabetes. For example, when you go to bed, your insulin level may be stable, but when you skip breakfast, it causes your insulin level to drop and then spike and crash when you eat lunch. This yo-yo effect may cause your body to build up a resistance to insulin, so skipping breakfast may actually increase your risk of being diagnosed with diabetes by 54%.

Diabetes Can Go Unnoticed for Years

Many of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes are similar to the symptoms of less worrisome illnesses, so the symptoms often go unnoticed, until it is too late. Many of the symptoms, such as increased hunger, fatigue and increased thirst are often hard to pinpoint a diagnosis for and they often develop over a long period of time. For this reason, it is critical to be tested, especially those who are over the age of 45, those who are overweight and those who may be at a genetic risk of developing diabetes.

Fortunately, there are some basic things that you can do to help prevent and/or manage type 2 diabetes, including maintaining a healthy weight, exercising daily, limiting sugary drinks and saturated fats in your diet and avoiding tobacco use. If type 2 diabetes is left undiagnosed and untreated for too long, it can lead to a number of life-threatening complications.

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