Let’s Talk About Diabetes
November is National Diabetes Month! This is the perfect time to talk about who’s at risk and how you can work to prevent this serious health problem.
Have you been really thirsty lately? Can’t get enough water? How’s your vision…blurry? Although you’re eating, are you still hungry much of the time? Do you notice you’ve been urinating excessively and feeling extremely fatigued?
If you answered yes to those questions, you need to have your blood sugar checked. According to the American Diabetes Association, the signs and symptoms of diabetes can sneak up on you. Type 2 or adult-onset diabetes, usually presents itself as people age and become overweight and obese. Type 1Diabetes is typically diagnosed in children and young adults; it is very different from Type 2 Diabetes and not related to obesity. Today I want to talk to you about Type 2.
Who’s At Risk
Over 7 million people in the United States are living with this disease, and they don’t know it. One-third of the population is at risk, so learning how to prevent this serious health problem is important (American Diabetes Association, 2018).
To begin, know your current fasting blood sugar. Normal adult fasting blood sugar is between 60 and 99. Prediabetes is usually a fasting result of 100 to 125, and anything over is considered diabetes. Another helpful measurement of blood sugar is hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), which provides the previous 3-month view of blood sugar. In non-diabetics, this number is below 5.7. In prediabetes, the HgA1c is 5.7 to 6.4, and anything over 6.4 is considered diabetes.
What’s the Deal
So what’s the big deal about having high blood sugar? Why is diabetes such a dangerous disease? The body needs sugar, or glucose, to function, but when there is too much glucose circulating in the bloodstream, it begins to damage the small blood vessels in all parts of the body especially the eyes, heart, kidneys, and feet. Uncontrolled, it can lead to blindness, heart and kidney disease, as well as problems with circulation that may result in amputation of toes, feet, and even legs.
Understanding Your Risk
Now that you know the numbers and some of the potential complications of uncontrolled diabetes, let’s look at risk factors for developing it and prevention. First, weight carries a lot of “weight” in increasing your risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes. Knowing your appropriate weight in relation to your height, body mass index (BMI), is a start. A BMI over 25 but below 30 is considered overweight, and a BMI over 30 is obese. The BMI chart has nothing to do with the size of clothing you wear or how you look. It has everything to do with understanding your risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.
Weight is not the only risk factor. Heredity also plays a role, so if members of your family have diabetes, you may be at risk also. Women who’ve had gestational diabetes also have the potential for developing Type 2 Diabetes later in life.
With all of this information, how do you prevent Type 2 Diabetes? Start by knowing your vital statistics…BMI, fasting blood sugar, HgA1c, current personal and family risk factors. Evaluate what you eat and your activity level. Diets don’t work, but lifestyle changes do. Visit www.diabetes.org, to learn more. When you are aware and educated you can reduce the chances of it “sneaking up” on you!
Call today to schedule your appointment to be screened.
Samaritan Health and Wellness Center, Inc. is a non-profit health clinic serving over 6,00 working uninsured and underinsured people in Southwest Florida.
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