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Health Information

What Is Diabetes
Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. The cause of diabetes continues to be a mystery, although both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles.

Nearly 21 million Americans, or 7% of the population, have diabetes. Unfortunately, more than 6 million people (or nearly one-third) are unaware they have the disease. To determine if a patient has pre-diabetes or diabetes, health care providers conduct a fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test, hemoglobin A1C, or an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT).

Diabetes no longer has to mean blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, nerve damage, amputations, impotence, or early death. Good self-management of blood sugar through food, medication, exercise and stress management effectively prevents or significantly reduces the complications of diabetes.

Diabetes Warning Signs and Risks

Warning Signs:
   Type 1 Diabetes
  • Frequent urination 
  • Unusual thirst 
  • Extreme hunger 
  • Unusual weight loss 
  • Extreme fatigue and irritability 

   Type 2 Diabetes*
  • Any of the type 1 symptoms 
  • Frequent infections 
  • Blurred vision 
  • Cuts or bruises that are slow to heal 
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet 
  • Recurring skin, gum, or bladder infections 
  • *People with type 2 diabetes often have no symptoms 

Uncontrolled high blood glucose can lead to the following: 
  • Eye complications: glaucoma, cataracts, retinopathy
  • Nerve damage: neuropathies can occur causing numbness and tingling in feet, trouble walking, pain in calves
  • Kidney damage: nephropathy can occur when blood pressure and blood glucose are not in control 
  • Cardiovascular disease (heart and blood vessel): leading to heart attack or stroke 

Helpful Links

For more information about the Diabetes Resource Institute at Catholic Medical Center, call (603) 663-6431.
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