Understanding Diabetes: Know The Warning Signs And Risk Factors

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. -- Most people know the keys to staying healthy: eating right, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight offer known benefits. Still, studies have shown people are neglecting their bodies at an alarming rate. As a result, the number of people living with diabetes is on the rise.

Knowing the signs and symptoms associated with diabetes is important in pinpointing an accurate diagnosis and forming a treatment plan.
Knowing the signs and symptoms associated with diabetes is important in pinpointing an accurate diagnosis and forming a treatment plan. Photo Credit: The Valley Hospital

Diabetes is a medical condition in which sugar, or glucose, builds in the bloodstream. The sugar that's produced through the consumption of carbohydrates travels through the blood and into the body's cells to create energy. This sugar is transported by insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas. Insulin acts as a bridge for sugar, distributing it throughout the body to provide energy. However, sometimes this system doesn't work properly. Diabetes is caused when the body is unable to create or use its own insulin to move sugar throughout the body.

"As you age, the chance of getting diabetes increases," said Dr. Adam Kelman, endocrinologist at Valley Medical Group. "Nearly 12 million Americans age 65 and older are a significant part of that percentage."

There are two forms of the disease: Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. In Type 1, affected parties are often born unable to produce insulin, while Type 2 is triggered by somewhat controllable factors that cause blood sugar levels to rise. "For example, those who are overweight, do not regularly exercise, have a family history of diabetes, are of a certain ethnic background and are over 65 years of age, are at an increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes," said Kelman.

When diagnosing diabetes, early detection is important. "If you begin to experience frequent urination, excessive thirst, constant hunger, extreme fatigue and blurry vision, speak to a doctor immediately," said Kelman. In most cases, Type 2 diabetes can be treated with lifestyle changes, oral medications and insulin. However, managing diabetes is a daily challenge because blood sugar levels must be kept in the desired range. Balancing food, exercise and medicine will help sufferers control their weight and keep blood glucose in a healthy range.

For those recently diagnosed with diabetes, The Valley Hospital has a variety of programs designed to help patients take charge of their health.

For more information on Patient Education/Managing Your Diabetes, call 201-291-6213.

For more information on Diabetes Education, call 201-447-8056.

For more information on  Nutrition Program and Diabetic Teaching, call 201-447-8093 for information and 201-634-5371 to schedule an appointment.

To schedule a Fitness Evaluation, call 201-447-81332.