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Diabetes 101

What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease caused by high blood sugar, and sugar is in many of the foods we must eat to survive. After food is consumed, our body takes its nutrients and breaks it down into carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Carbohydrates turn into sugar that is then used as energy for our body. Carbohydrates come in the form of starches, starchy vegetables, milk/yogurt, fruits, and sweets. If your body doesn’t need all the sugar you take in at once, it will store it in muscles, fat, and liver cells for use later. That is the job of insulin, a hormone that moves sugar into those cells. Those who have diabetes have high blood sugar levels because they cannot store sugar in those cells. Diabetes can be caused by either too little insulin production by an individual’s body (Type 1 Diabetes) or an individual’s body is resistant to the effects of insulin (Type 2 Diabetes) and can also occur during pregnancy (Gestational Diabetes).

Signs of Type 1 Diabetes
Signs of type 1 diabetes include: intense thirst, being very tired, urinating often, losing weight, extreme hunger, extreme fatigue and blurred vision. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and/or think you might have type 1 diabetes, your doctor can do a blood test to measure the amount of sugar in your blood.

Signs of Type 2 Diabetes
Prior to a type 2 diabetes diagnosis, most people have no symptoms. Some type 2 diabetes signs can include needing to urinate frequently, feeling thirsty, frequent infections, cuts/bruises that are slow to heal, tingling/numbness in the hands and feet, recurring skin, gum or bladder infections, tiredness, fatigue and having blurred vision. To diagnosis type 2 diabetes, several blood tests are required to measure blood glucose levels.

Signs of Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes is a specific type of diabetes that can develop during a woman’s pregnancy. Most women do not experience noticeable signs of gestational diabetes. In rare situations, women may feel symptoms of excessive thirst or even urinating often. Often, women with gestational diabetes are overweight before the pregnancy. Others may have diabetes in the family. Although symptoms of gestational diabetes are rare and may be unnoticeable, it is important to seek help before and during your pregnancy.

The Allen Diabetes Center can assist you on your way to healthy living by giving you the tools successfully manage your diabetes. The Allen Center has one of the largest diabetes education programs in Orange County and offers dietitians, educators certified for all major continuous glucose monitoring sensors (CGMS) and major insulin pumps. With free diabetes education and support classes on nutrition, cooking, exercise and psychosocial support and a diabetes self-management program that focuses on managing diet, physical activity and medications, the Allen Center can play a virtual role in helping you avoid complications and teach how to manage and treat your diabetes. Patients with type 1 diabetes will be interested in participating in the Allen Center’s Herbert Family Program that focuses on meeting the unique needs of young adults with type 1 diabetes (age 18-30s). The program addresses the financial, psychological, social and physical changes that challenge not only the young adult but also their family and support system.