My story is not uncommon. More than 15 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with diabetes. The sad fact is that there is an estimated 6 million more people out there who may have it and not even know it.
Diabetes is a disease that causes too much sugar to be floating around in your bloodstream. But it’s not just about eating candy and sweets. Our digestive systems turn the foods that we eat into sugar and sends it into our bloodstream in order to fuel our muscles and organs and keep our bodies going. Our pancreas produces a hormone called insulin that makes it possible for the sugar to move out of our bloodstream INTO our muscles and organs where it is needed for fuel. A person with diabetes either has a pancreas that doesn’t make enough insulin (Type I diabetes), or the insulin that the pancreas does produce doesn’t work properly (Type II Diabetes). The result either way? A whole lot of sugar floating around in you blood.
Well, what’s wrong with that? Several things. First, your body isn’t getting the fuel it needs to work properly. Your muscles are tired, your organs are exhausted, and your brain isn’t functioning at full speed. Second, sugar molecules are very large compared to the cells inside your body. As the sugar flows throughout your body in your blood stream, these large sugar molecules are causing damage to your kidneys, your liver, your heart, your eyes and your nerves. This damage can be healed if your diabetes is diagnosed early, and if you work to keep your blood sugar under control. If you ignore your diabetes, or if it goes undiagnosed for years, this damage becomes permanent and the results are kidney or liver failure, heart disease, permanent nerve damage or even blindness.
Tomorrow – Risk Factors and Symptoms