According to 2014 statistics (the most recent available), The Center for Disease Control estimates that Diabetes Mellitus, or Type II Diabetes affects over 29 million Americans. (https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/data/statistics/2014StatisticsReport.html). Because the symptoms of diabetes can be so mild, they sometimes cause no overt discomfort or complication. In fact, one third of people who have Type II diabetes did not know that they had the disease.
The insidious nature of diabetes makes it difficult to manage in patients who may be in denial or who think that this chronic condition is not dangerous. It’s important to talk to your doctor about your risk for diabetes. If anyone in your immediate family has the disease, then you should have your blood glucose level tested at least yearly.
Your Friend Insulin
When we eat, food in our stomach is broken down by digestive acids and enzymes. These fluids break down the sugars and starches from the carbohydrates we eat into another form of sugar, glucose. Every cell in our body requires energy to complete the metabolic activities that sustain life and glucose is the simple sugar that is used by most cells in our body for energy.
Once carbohydrates are converted to glucose, it is absorbed by the stomach and the small intestine and then released into the bloodstream. The glucose enters our bloodstream and is immediately available to our cells for energy, but our body needs insulin to open the cells so that they can receive the glucose, or energy. If there is not enough insulin, then the glucose builds in your bloodstream.
When the glucose in your bloodstream is not released into your cells, it causes a condition called hyperglycemia. When your blood sugar levels reach 180 or greater, your kidneys try to get rid of the excess sugar through urine. This causes you to urinate more frequently, and in turn, you become excessively thirsty because of the loss of water through urination.
Losing sugar through your urine is energy lost to your cells. When your body is unable to absorb the energy-boosting glucose, you become hungry all the time and fatigued. Blurry vision and infections that don’t heal are also signs of chronically high blood sugars. Women may experience chronic vaginal yeast infections.
When Losing Weight Is Not A Good Thing
Your body is built to survive, and if it is unable to convert food to energy, it will utilize other available sources for energy. These sources include fat and muscle tissue, which will result in weight loss. At first, this may seem like a good thing, especially if you are like most diabetics, and carry more than a few extra pounds around your middle. However, when your body is unable to utilize glucose stores, you may find yourself in a vicious circle of being hungry, being thirsty all the time, urinating frequently, and being tired and moody.
When your body burns fat rather than glucose, it can create excess ketones in your blood. Some people purposefully try to put their bodies into a state of ketosis to lose weight, increase lean muscle, and reduce blood sugar. However, if left unchecked and not monitored or done purposefully, burning fat rather than glucose can lead to a dangerous condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA, and this is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention. Ketoacidosis can develop very quickly. It causes your blood to become too acidic and endangers the normal functioning of your liver, kidneys, and other internal organs. It can lead to coma or death if left untreated.
Silent Symptoms of Diabetes
Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to a heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, nerve damage, and retinopathy, to name only a few serious conditions related to the disease. It’s important to recognize the signs of high blood sugar and seek medical care. Contact your healthcare professional if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Extreme hunger
- Unexplained weight loss
- Blurred vision
- Frequent yeast infections
- Wounds that are slow to heal
- Gum disease
- Unexplained nausea and vomiting
Diabetes can be easily controlled, with conventional Western medicine that includes a healthy diet and exercise, and sometimes with the addition of pharmaceuticals. Many find improved symptoms and even reversal of high blood sugars with careful weight loss and management and also with natural supplements and healthful, organic diets.
Remember, you’re in control of your health. Talk to your doctor about your risk for diabetes. Find out what treatments are available. Research natural remedies and cures for your symptoms. Talk to family and friends who are dealing with diabetes and ask how they manage their symptoms.