If you have diabetes, you are far from alone. Over 34 million Americans live with the condition, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s twice as many people diagnosed with diabetes than there were just 20 years ago and only a fraction of the 422 million people around the globe living with diabetes. Given the many complications and health problems associated with diabetes, and the challenges faced by those who need to monitor and regulate their glucose levels to keep their diabetes under control, it is important to understand the basic what’s and why’s of this long-term condition.
Glucose Builds Up In The Bloodstream Instead Of Providing Energy
Simply put, diabetes develops when the body does not turn carbohydrates from food into energy as it is supposed to. Specifically, people with diabetes struggle with the level of glucose (sugar) in their blood because the body’s natural ability to regulate the amount of glucose in the bloodstream is compromised.
The diminished regulatory functioning experienced by individuals with diabetes results from the body’s failure to produce enough insulin or the inability to use the insulin to sufficiently maintain healthy blood sugar levels. When functioning properly, the pancreas releases insulin when blood sugar levels rise. That insulin is what opens the door for blood sugar to get into the body’s cells, where it can provide needed energy.
But a lack of insulin means that the glucose that is supposed to make its way to cells stays put in the bloodstream. And that elevated amount of glucose in the bloodstream is what can lead to the chronic and sometimes fatal health conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease, and vision loss.
There are two types of diabetes, distinct in their causes and consequences
Type 1 Diabetes
Previously called juvenile diabetes, an inaccurate moniker because it can develop in people of all ages, type 1 diabetes afflicts about five percent of all people who have diabetes.
When the body is functioning as it should, insulin-producing cells in the pancreas called islets detect the amount of glucose in the bloodstream and release the right amount of insulin to normalize blood sugar levels and facilitate the release of glucose to be used as energy. In type 1 diabetes, however, the body’s immune system attacks the islet cells in the pancreas. When the body attacks itself like this, it is referred to as an auto-immune condition.
Without islet cells, the body cannot produce its own insulin. As a result, the sugars stay in the bloodstream, essentially starving the cells of the energy they need to maintain the body’s essential functions. That is why so many complications of type 1 diabetes involve problems with the heart, kidneys, and other organs.
Type 2 Diabetes
The most common form of diabetes, type 2 diabetes is also called adult-onset or non-insulin-dependent diabetes. Type 2 diabetes typically develops after the age of 35, but in recent years, an increasing number of younger adults are being diagnosed with the condition.
As opposed to those with type 1 diabetes, people with type 2 can produce some of their own insulin, but it is often in insufficient amounts to do the job. That is because the cells that need glucose put up resistance to the insulin trying to deliver it, leaving the sugars to build-up in the bloodstream.
Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, along with genetics and age, increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The good news is that both forms of diabetes are treatable, though not curable. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can keep diabetes at bay, and vigilant monitoring of glucose levels is an indispensable element of diabetes maintenance.
Traditional glucose monitoring involved pricking a finger multiple times a day to get and test blood samples, and inconvenient and uncomfortable burden. Now, however, technology has provided those with diabetes a more accurate and easier way to keep track of their blood sugar levels. Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) is a tested, approved, and easy-to-use transceiver device that helps those with diabetes stay in tune and ahead of the game with their diabetes monitoring.
With easy-to-use features that can help each person proactively record and track glucose levels—as well as provide valuable insights on data that helps manage exercise, meals, and daily health status—CGM is a game-changer for individuals with diabetes.
Whether you’ve been living with diabetes for years or if you’ve recently been on the lookout for the latest trends that can help beneficially impact your health, CGM could be the ideal solution. Contact us today to see if you qualify for CGM and access our guide to continuous glucose monitoring.