What is it?

Diabetes is a condition results from the abnormal produce or use of insulin, a hormone that is needed for the body to use glucose (sugar) for energy.

There are 3 main types of diabetes:

Type 1 Diabetes: Develops most often in children and young adults. In this type of diabetes, the body’s immune system destroys the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. This results in little to no insulin production which causes the sugar that you need for energy to build up in your bloodstream instead of going into the cells where it is needed. Causes of type 1 diabetes are largely unknown although it is thought to be a combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental factors.

Type 2 Diabetes: In type 2 diabetes, insulin is still being produced but the body develops a resistance to it. The pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to override the body’s resistance and sugar builds up in the bloodstream instead of going into the cell.

Gestational Diabetes: This type of diabetes develops in women during pregnancy. The placenta produces hormones to sustain the pregnancy which also make the cells of the body more resistant to insulin. Normally the pancreas just produces extra insulin during this time to balance it out but sometimes it cannot produce enough to overcome the resistance. This type of diabetes usually goes away after the baby is born and the placenta can no longer deliver these extra pregnancy hormones to the body.

Risk Factors: The exact cause of diabetes is still unknown but factors such as obesity, lack of physical activity, family history, race, and age seem to impact whether someone will develop diabetes.

Symptoms of Diabetes:

  • Increased Thirst
  • Frequent Urination
  • Constant or Extreme Hunger
  • Unexplained Weight Loss
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred Vision
  • Slow-Healing Sores
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Frequent Infections

Medical Complications from Diabetes:

  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Blindness
  • Kidney Disease
  • Neuropathy
  • Peripheral Vascular Disease
  • Amputations
  • Skin and mouth conditions
  • Osteoporosis
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Cancer
  • Decreased Muscular Strength and Physical Function

How do you find out if you have Diabetes?

Because the symptoms of diabetes can be so gradual in onset, and thus not as noticable, the American Diabetes Association has recommended that anyone 45 and older have their blood sugar screened every 3 years and everyone with a body mass index of 25 or higher, regardless of age, be regularly screened for diabetes.

Screening and diagnoses comes from blood tests that analyze your blood glucose levels. Blood glucose should be 70-130 mg/dl before a meal and <180 mg/dl after a meal. Any numbers outside of these ranges is cause for further investigation.

How can  Physical Therapist Help?

  • Decrease pain in joints and muscles
  • Decrease numbness or tingling in feet
  • Decrease pain and limping with walking
  • Increase strength and mobility

Physical activity is the cornerstone for diabetes treatment and prevention. Physical therapy can help with muscle strengthening, mobility, and pain reduction.

Aquatic Physical Therapy can be a wonderful option for individuals with limited strength such as individuals with diabetes. For more information on aquatic therapy, look to our aquatic therapy blog posts, located on our homepage under the services tab or to our website at







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