Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. The cause of diabetes continues to be a mystery, although both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles. There are 18.2 million people in the United States, or 6.3% of the population, who have diabetes. While an estimated 13 million have been diagnosed with diabetes, unfortunately, 5.2 million people (or nearly one-third) are unaware that they have the disease.
Often diabetes goes undiagnosed because many of its symptoms seem so harmless. Some diabetes symptoms include:
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Extreme hunger
- Unusual weight loss
- Increased fatigue
- Blurry vision
- An increased risk for heart attack, stroke, and complications related to poor circulation.
- Diabetes can damage the kidneys.
- Diabetes can cause eye problems and may lead to blindness.
- One of the most common complications of diabetes is diabetic neuropathy. Neuropathy means damage to the nerves that run throughout the body, connecting the spinal cord to muscles, skin, blood vessels, and other organs.
As many as one-third of people with diabetes will have a skin disorder caused or affected by diabetes at some time in their lives.
People with diabetes can develop many different foot problems. Foot problems most often happen when there is nerve damage in the feet or when blood flow is poor. Gastroparesis. Gastroparesis is a disorder that affects people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.