Diabetes is a disease that is defined as having high levels of sugar in the blood.
To understand what diabetes really is, it is important to understand how your body processes food. When you ingest food, glucose, a type of sugar, enters your bloodstream. Glucose is fuel for your body. Your pancreas makes insulin. The purpose of insulin is to move the glucose from your bloodstream into your muscles, fat and liver cells so it can be used for fuel. This is where diabetes comes in. People with this disease have high blood sugar, meaning, they do not make enough insulin or their body does not respond how it should to insulin and the glucose remains in the bloodstream.
According to the National Diabetes Association, more than 25.8 million Americans, or 8.3% of the population, have diabetes. Each year, nearly 2 million new cases are diagnosed.
There are two main types of diabetes and both have different causes and risks:
Type 1 Diabetes
Can be found in people of any age. However, it is commonly diagnosed early in life. The bodies of people with Type 1 Diabetes produce little to no insulin. Therefore, daily injections of insulin are necessary for people diagnosed. There is no known cause for this disease.
Type 2 Diabetes
The more common of the two types, is diagnosed more often in adults. However, as the obesity rates in teens are on the rise, so too is Type 2 Diabetes in teenagers. Many people who have Type 2 Diabetes go undiagnosed.
Type 2 Diabetes is more common in:
- African Americans
- Native Americans
- Asian Americans
- Native Hawaiians
- Pacific Islanders
Not all people who have Type 2 Diabetes suffer from symptoms. However, most people diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes develop multiple symptoms. The most commons symptoms of diabetes are:
- Blurry vision
- Excess thirst
- Frequent urination
- Weight loss
People who suffer from diabetes long-term can develop other symptoms including, eye problems, painful sores and infections, and nerve damage.
The most accurate way of diagnosing diabetes is through a blood test including:
- Fasting blood glucose level
- Hemoglobin A1c
- Oral glucose tolerance test
Early on, people with Type 2 Diabetes may be able to reverse their diagnosis through lifestyle changes including weight loss and an active lifestyle. There is no cure for Type 1 Diabetes. Both types can be treated through medicine, diet and exercise.
The thyroid is a gland that is located in the front of your neck. It produces a hormone that helps control your body's metabolism.
Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, occurs when your thyroid does not make enough of its hormone. This condition is most common in women and people over 50. Hypothyroidism can be caused by damage to the cells that make up the thyroid. Early symptoms may include sensitivity to cold, fatigue, weight gain, and thin or brittle hair and fingernails. Hypothyroidism is often diagnosed after a physical examination by your doctor and a blood test to measure TSH or T4. The condition is easily treated through medication. However, it is important to note that you will have to stay on this medication for the rest of your life.
Hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid, occurs when your thyroid makes too much of its hormone. This condition can be caused by a number of issues including too much iodine, Graves disease, and inflammation of the thyroid. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include difficulty concentrating, fatigue, goiters, increased appetite, increased sweating and weight loss. Hyperthyroidism is often diagnosed after a physical examination by your doctor and a blood test to measure TSH or T3 and T4. This condition can be treated with medication, radioactive iodine or the surgical removal of the thyroid.
Thyroid Nodules, are an abnormal growth of thyroid cells that form a lump within the thyroid gland. Thyroid nodules are extremely common. By age 60, about one-half of all people will develop them. Although, the majority of nodules are benign (noncancerous), a small percentage of thyroid nodules can be cancerous. It's important to get thyroid nodules evaluated, in case further treatment is required.
Goiter is a non-cancerous enlargement of the thyroid. A simple goiter can be caused by hypothyroidism, or lack of the thyroid hormone. A toxic nodular goiter is caused by hyperthyroidism, or too much of the thyroid hormone. A goiter can vary in size from a small nodule to a large lump. Goiters may be treated with thyroid hormone replacement medications, small doses of iodine, radioactive iodine, or surgery to the remove the thyroid.
Thyroid Cancer is a type of cancer that starts in your thyroid. While there is no definitive cause of thyroid cancer, people who are exposed to radiation are at an increased risk for developing the disease. There are several types of cancer including, anaplastic carcinoma (the most dangerous and fastest spreading), follicular carcinoma (the most likely to come back), medullary carcinoma (the most genetic), and papillary carcinoma (the most common and the slowest spreading of the bunch). If your physician suspects that you have thyroid cancer she will perform a physical exam on you and may order further tests. The most common treatment for thyroid cancer is surgery. During the surgery the entire thyroid will be removed. Your physician may recommend radiation therapy. This may be done in conjunction with surgery or on its own.
The pituitary gland is a pea-sized gland that resides at the base of your skull. The pituitary gland controls the hormones released in your body. These hormones control your body temperature, thyroid activity, adolescent growth, and ovulation.
Pituitary Tumors are abnormal growths of the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland lives in the brain and helps regulate your body's hormones. The majority of pituitary tumors are noncancerous. Pituitary tumors may be removed with surgery if the tumor is pressing on your nerves or blood vessels. In some cases it is possible to shrink the tumor with radiation or medication.
Other pituitary issues include:
- Pituitary Adenomas
- Pituitary Hormone Disorders
Watch a video about the pituitary gland.
Your adrenal glands are shaped like triangles and live right above your kidneys. The glands produce steroid hormones, like cortisol, aldosterone, and testosterone, as well as, adrenaline and noradrenaline. If your glands produce too much or too little of any of these hormones you may become sick.
- Addison's Disease
- Adrenal Adenomas
- Adrenal Hormone Disorders
- Cushing's Syndrome
- Adrenal Hyperandrogenism
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, is an imbalance in your body of a female sex hormone, such as estrogen, progesterone or androgen. This imbalance makes it harder for you to release a mature egg during ovulation and instead you may form small cysts on your ovary. PCOS can make it harder for you to conceive. It is not known what causes this hormone imbalance in women, but it is believed that PCOS may be hereditary.
PCOS is commonly found in women who are overweight, have diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Women with PCOS may have one or more of the following symptoms:
- Irregular periods or no periods
- Changes in skin color
- Some male-like characteristics - this symptom is called virilization
- Ovarian cysts
If, after a physical exam, your physician thinks you have PCOS, may order blood tests to check your various hormone levels.
- Estrogen level
- FSH level
- LH level
- Testosterone level
- 17-ketosteroids level
Additionally, may perform a vaginal ultrasound so she can look closer at your ovaries.
Since PCOS is often found in women who are overweight, losing weight can help your hormones regulate and make it easier to conceive. If you are not trying to get pregnant, your physician may put you on birth control pills that help control the level of hormones in your system.