Since World Diabetes Day is on November 14, we thought it would be a great time to bring attention to what it’s like to live with diabetes. Most of us know someone who has the disease, but not everyone knows how it really works.
Diabetes is a condition that causes blood sugar to rise to dangerous levels: a fasting blood glucose of 126 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or more. There are two main types of diabetes (1 and 2), and a family history of the disease is associated with an increased risk of developing it, but to varying degrees with type 1 and type 2.
According to the American Diabetes Association®, only 5 percent of people with diabetes have type 1, and most are diagnosed as children or young adults. With type 1 diabetes, the pancreas makes little to no insulin, so the body isn’t able to convert glucose (blood sugar) from food, into energy to fuel the body. Without the production of insulin, people with type 1 diabetes require daily insulin treatments to regulate their blood sugar.
The most common form of diabetes is type 2, in which your body’s blood sugar levels rise to higher than normal — resulting in hyperglycemia. With type 2 diabetes, the body develops insulin resistance and can’t make efficient use of the insulin it produces. Over time, the pancreas loses its capacity to make insulin. People can develop type 2 diabetes at any age or temporarily during pregnancy. In mild form, this type of diabetes can go undiagnosed for many years.
The treatments for diabetes range from oral medications (type 2 only) to injections or an insulin pump, along with measuring blood sugar levels on a regular basis. No matter the type of diabetes, living a healthy, active lifestyle can help diabetics manage their disease. Currently, there is no cure for type 1; however, people with type 2 can work towards recovery.
Contrary to popular belief, diabetics are eligible to donate blood as long as their condition is well-controlled and there are no complications associated with the disease. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes and wonder if donating blood is right for you, please consult your doctor. If you have questions regarding blood donor eligibility, please visit our website.