November is American Diabetes Month, and Wednesday is World Diabetes Day. It is important that we raise our awareness of diabetes and the issues surrounding this disease. Many individuals, families and communities are impacted by diabetes nationwide.
Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that allows the body to use glucose for energy. The body produces glucose from the food we eat. There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 diabetes (usually diagnosed in children and young adults) and Type 2 diabetes (the most common form and most often diagnosed in adults).
Risk factors for diabetes include:
• Family history of diabetes (parent, brother or sister with Type 2 diabetes)
• Ethnicity (African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Asian American or Pacific Islander)
• Gestational diabetes or had a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
• High blood pressure
• Low HDL (good cholesterol)
• High triglycerides
• Lack of regular physical activity
Signs and symptoms that could indicate a person has diabetes include excessive thirst, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss or unusual lack of energy/fatigue.
Good diabetes control is critical to a positive outcome. Nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States alone have diabetes. Another 79 million Americans have prediabetes. Prediabetes usually comes before Type 2 diabetes. Generally, blood glucose levels are higher than normal (fasting plasma glucose range of 100-125 mg/dl or Hemoglobin A1C at 5.7-6.4 percent), and most people with prediabetes don’t know they even have it. Recent estimates project that as many as one in three American adults will have diabetes in 2050 unless we take steps to stop diabetes.
Stop Diabetes is a national movement through the American Diabetes Association dedicated to doing just that. Two out of three people with diabetes also suffer with heart disease or stroke. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure and new cases of blindness among adults. Amputations for people with diabetes are 10 times higher than for people without diabetes. Approximately 60-70 percent of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of nerve damage that could result in pain in the feet or hands, slowed digestion and other nerve problems.
There are a number of positive things you can do to reduce the risk of developing diabetes or improve the management of diabetes if you already have been diagnosed.
• Adopt a healthy eating plan and lifestyle. Work with a dietitian to develop a personalized meal plan with a focus on choosing foods low in fat and including a variety of food choices (whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean meats and low fat dairy).
• Attain or maintain a healthy weight. Losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can make a difference.
• Try being more active throughout the day. Work up to 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. This can reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 40 percent.
• Reduce blood pressure with healthy eating, attaining a healthy weight, regular physical activity and limiting sodium intake to 1500 mg or less per day.
• Get help to stop smoking if you smoke.
Skiff Medical Center offers an American Diabetes Association recognized Diabetes Self Management Program that provides extensive diabetes education, review classes, individualized visits and support group. Contact Jenny Thompson at (641) 791-4303 for information.