Diabetes

More than 25 million American adults and children suffer from diabetes, a chronic condition where there are high levels of sugar in the blood. Though many are able to live a happy, healthy life if they are able to keep their blood sugar in check, left untreated some diabetics lose their sex drive and in some cases their foot.

There are two forms of diabetes: type 1 diabetes — where the body’s own immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas; and type 2 diabetes — where the insulin the pancreas secretes is either not enough or the body is unable to recognize the insulin and use it properly.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 95 percent of diabetes cases in the United States are type 2.

Family history, eating habits, age, ethnic origins and weight all affect whether someone will likely have diabetes. If a parent or sibling in your family has diabetes, your risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases.

Also if you are over the age of 45, your chances of developing the disease increase. African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and Native Hawaiians are at a higher risk of developing diabetes than other races.

Inactive people, smokers and those not eating healthy foods are at an increased risk, as well.

More than 6 million people in the United States have undiagnosed diabetes. Leaving diabetes untreated can lead to serious complications including depression and sexual dysfunction in men. Dehydration, body damage and risk of a diabetic coma are among other possible problems. Buildup of blood sugar leads to more urination as well as glucose—and water loss. A person unable to compensate for fluid loss is at risk of going into a diabetic coma.

Those suffering from Type 2 Diabetes are particularly at risk for eye, kidney and heart problems. For instance, atherosclerosis—hardening of the large arteries—can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

With diabetes, proper foot care is vital. The buildup of blood sugar can cause damage to the foot, untreated wounds can lead to amputation in some patients.