According to the CDC nearly 26 million American have diabetes and another 76 million have prediabetes. This serious illness can be divided into two types. Type I, or Juvenile Diabetes because it usually is diagnosed in children, is a condition in which the body does not produce insulin, a substance that regulates blood sugar. The treatment for this is insulin injections. Type 2 or Adult Onset diabetes is generally diagnosed in adults, although this is increasingly becoming a disease of younger people also. Type 2 diabetes is a serious public health concern and will be the focus of this month’s newsletter.
What is Type 2 diabetes?
It is a disease in which the body either does not produce insulin or becomes resistant to insulin. Insulin regulates the body’s blood sugar levels.
What causes diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is caused by being overweight, eating a poor and not getting enough exercise. Smoking can also play a role.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
Diabetes may not cause any symptoms. Very high sugar levels in the blood may cause frequent urination and intense thirst. If you have these symptoms you should seek medical attention.
What health problems does diabetes cause?
- Kidney disease, which can lead to requiring dialysis
- Eye problems, including blindness,
- Heart disease and heart attacks
- Hardening or blockage of the blood vessels in legs. This can cause death of toes, feet or parts of legs resulting in amputations.
- Nerve damage causing numbness and pain in hands and legs.
- Diabetes can also increase the risk for strokes and early death.
How is diabetes diagnosed?
Diabetes is diagnosed by a blood test. An elevated blood glucose (sugar) level can indicate diabetes.
How is diabetes treated?
Early or mild cases may be able to be controlled with diet and exercise. But, usually pills are needed to control blood sugars. Sometimes people need to inject themselves with insulin several times a day to control blood sugar.
What can you do if you are diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes?
Moderate intensity exercise such as brisk walking on all or most days of the week has been shown to help control blood sugar and prevent some of the complications of diabetes.
Avoid foods that are high in fat and sugar such as fast foods, pre-made foods and desserts.
Maintain a healthy body weight
- Talk to your doctor about what your ideal weight should be.
- Weight loss can be certainly be challenging, but with good support, and slow realistic goals, it can be accomplished.
Do not smoke.
Monitor blood sugar
Your doctor may give you a Glucometer, which is a blood sugar testing tool, which you can use at home to test the sugar level in a small drop of blood from your finger.
Can diabetes be prevented?
Yes. Diabetes can be prevented. Maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet can all help prevent diabetes. Regular exercise means at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, on at least five days of the week. A healthy diet is one that is does not include fast food, processed food and fatty fried foods and does include daily vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins such as fat-free dairy products, low fat meats and beans.
As with any condition, please consult your doctor if you are concerned that you or a loved one may have diabetes. If you have already been diagnosed, please follow your own doctor’s instructions carefully.