Today is World Diabetes Day and November is National Diabetes Awareness month in the U.S. Coincidence or not, Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and we know it’s a time for ‘more’—more family, more food, more sugar, starch, fat…all the good stuff. It’s ok to splurge every now and then, but for some people, splurging is dangerous for their health and could even be deadly.
What is diabetes exactly and what are the symptoms?
Diabetes is a condition where the body can’t produce or respond to insulin, which causes blood glucose (sugar) levels to rise higher than normal. Insulin is a hormone that removes excess glucose from the bloodstream, and distributes it into the cells of your body.
Common symptoms of diabetes include the following:
- Urinating often
- Feeling very thirsty
- Feeling very hungry – even though you are eating
- Extreme fatigue
- Blurry vision
- Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
- Weight loss – even though you are eating more
- Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet
If you’re not feeling well, K can help assess your symptoms to see if there’s a possibility you may have diabetes. We do this by asking detailed questions about your symptoms and showing you how cases like yours were diagnosed by thousands of doctors. K has 25 years of clinical data from over 2 million people, so we can compare your symptoms to people like you who felt the same way.
K says people like me were diagnosed with diabetes, now what?
While there is no cure for diabetes, there are treatment options to manage the disease and its effects. We spoke with our medical advisor, and Director at Heartbeat Health in New York City, Dr. Edo Paz, who told us diabetes can result in serious complications of your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, nervous system, eyes, and more if the disease is not well managed. But Dr. Paz reassured us that “diabetics who can maintain good control of their blood sugar are less likely to develop serious complications. To maintain control, all diabetics should focus on diet, exercise, and monitoring levels of sugar in the blood. Many will also require medical treatment with oral drugs, insulin or both.”
Aren’t there two types of diabetes?
Yes, it’s important to remember there are two types of diabetes and many different treatment options. If K identifies people like you with diabetes, the app will show you which kind they had. Originally thought to be a childhood disease, the American Diabetic Association says that in fact, Type 1diabetes can actually occur to people of every age and weight. People affected with type 1 cannot produce insulin.
Through insulin therapy, people can manage their condition properly.
Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes. People diagnosed with this version have insulin resistance, meaning their bodies cannot use insulin properly. In an effort to compensate, the pancreas makes extra insulin, but over time the pancreas can’t keep up. Patients of Type 2 can manage their diabetes through healthy eating, exercise, daily blood sugar testing, and with the help of pills and insulin when needed to bring blood glucose levels down to a healthy range.
Will diabetes affect my overall health?
It can. That’s why K will often ask if you have diabetes and will save that information to your private user profile to help inform future dialogues about your symptoms. K keeps your diabetes in mind when assessing symptoms, even if they seem unrelated. For example, if a diabetic patient develops tingling in the feet, this may be a sign of diabetic neuropathy. Or if a diabetic patient develops chest pain, there is a higher likelihood that it is caused by a serious condition, such as a heart attack.
If you or someone you’re sharing Thanksgiving dinner with has diabetes, don’t let it get you down! Here are some tips for having a healthy Thanksgiving
The American DiabetesAmerican DiabetesAssociation has some simple suggestions, to make the holiday stress-free for family members with diabetes, such as timing your meal and planning in advance for handling the insulin injections or doses of medication. Having snacks on hand can help regulate a diabetic’s system when timing and size of meals are altered from a typical day. Also, the ADA suggests taking walks and loading up on vegetables (potatoes unfortunately, not included!) to help balance out the larger meal. These can help keep blood sugar levels in check.
Diabetes Food Hub and Cooking Light both are excellent resources for recipe planning and ingredient substitution ideas. Feel free to share K and the resources listed here with friends and family this holiday season.
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.