On March 27, 2018, we recognize Diabetes Alert Day bringing awareness to Type 2, Type 1, and Gestational Diabetes.
Diabetes affects 9.4% of the American population, or 30.3 million Americans and can often go undiagnosed for millions until seen by a doctor. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States and costs hundreds of billions every year. Genetics often play a role in developing Diabetes, but risk factors such as weight and eating habits can also contribute.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is not a choice, but a chronic disease due to the lack of insulin production by the body’s pancreas to break down sugars and starches that are eaten. Since the body cannot break these items down, blood glucose or sugar levels rise higher than normal causing health issues. There are three main types of diabetes:
- Type 1 often affects children and young adults and is more commonly known as juvenile diabetes. Only 5% have this diagnosis, and Type 1 cannot be prevented.
- Type 2 Diabetes is the most common type of diabetes and develops at a later age when the body becomes insulin resistant. The body’s pancreas at first makes extra insulin and then is not able to keep up to enable steady blood glucose levels.
- Gestational Diabetes occurs during pregnancy and typically develops around the 24th week for women that have never had diabetes before. Why Gestational Diabetes happens is not known, but it is often credited to hormones, and usually goes away after birth.
Many times symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes go unnoticed, but common signs are urinating often, feeling thirsty, feeling hungry, extreme fatigue, blurry vision, slow healing cuts and bruises, and tingling/pain.
Another form of diabetes is Prediabetes, in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not yet to be diagnosed as Diabetes. Sometimes known as impaired glucose tolerance, prediabetes has no apparent symptoms but can be checked through blood tests. Over 84.1 million individuals over the age of 18 in 2015 had Prediabetes. Knowing about Prediabetes can help individuals act and prevent the onset of Type 2 Diabetes and medication to regulate insulin production.
What can you do to put Diabetes in check?
Taking action is essential to prevent the onset of Type 2 Diabetes. A clear warning sign of the potential onset of Type 2 Diabetes, is Prediabetes. Acting early is important. By losing 7% of your body weight (15 lbs. for someone weighing 200 lbs.) and exercising moderately one can make a huge difference. Losing just 15 lbs. cannot only help with diabetes risks, but also heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.
To keep diabetes in check, it is important to be willing and able to change. By taking small steps to improve eating and exercise habits, you will be able to shed the extra weight and avoid being reliant upon medication and insulin injections. Setting S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Specific) goals can help you see changes in the long run.
Diabetes is a chronic illness, but if proper steps are taken to keep weight down and stay active, an individual can reduce the chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
Source: American Diabetes Association