What is diabetes?
Diabetes is an endocrine disorder, which means the problem originates with hormone production. The hormone in question is insulin, which comes from your pancreas. Insulin is essential for regulating the levels of glucose (sugars) in your blood.
Without the right amount of insulin, your blood sugar levels can rise or fall dangerously, making untreated diabetes potentially life-threatening. There are numerous complications that you could suffer if you have diabetes, including:
- Eye disease
- Gum disease
- Heart disease
- Vascular disease
- Kidney disease
- Sexual dysfunction
- Skin conditions
- High blood pressure
- Diabetic peripheral neuropathy
Diabetic neuropathy and poor circulation from cardiovascular disease in your lower legs can lead to the formation of open sores called diabetic ulcers. Severe or infected ulcers can lead to gangrene and potentially the loss of a foot.
What kinds of diabetes are there?
There are several kinds of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes develops if you have an autoimmune disorder, in which your immune system wipes out the cells in your pancreas that produce insulin. It usually starts at quite a young age and requires lifetime insulin therapy.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes tends to set in later in life, mainly as a consequence of being overweight or obese. A poor diet with high levels of unhealthy fats and sugars, lack of exercise, and smoking all increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
You can also get a temporary form of diabetes during pregnancy called gestational diabetes.
What is the link between diabetes and high blood pressure?
High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is another serious problem that can also lead to heart attack, stroke, and other life-threatening conditions. The causes of high blood pressure include many of the same lifestyle issues as those responsible for Type 2 diabetes. High blood pressure is, unsurprisingly, more common in people who have Type 2 diabetes.
If you've got both high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes, your risk of having a heart attack or stroke greatly increases. The combination of both diseases also increases your chances of developing other diabetic complications, such as retinopathy (eye disease) and kidney disease.
How is diabetes treated?
One of the most critical treatments for diabetes is making changes to your lifestyle and diet, factors that are often responsible for Type 2 diabetes. Your provider at Premier NW Houston Medical Group can help you with:
- Weight loss
- Nutrition counseling
- Exercise programs
- Stress management
- Smoking cessation
Improving your health can reverse Type 2 diabetes in the early, prediabetic stage, as well as making blood sugar regulation easier. It can also reduce your blood pressure.
You might need to take medicines as well if lifestyle modifications aren't enough on their own.