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Nov 13

November is Diabetes Awareness Month

Posted by Scott  filed under Diabetes

Did you know there has been a 176 percent increase in the number of people with diabetes over the last 30 years. That is not a misprint: a 176% increase!  Diabetes is now the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, and can result in complications such as cardiovascular disease, blindness, kidney damage, and lower-limb amputation, as well as short-term issues like dental problems and decreased resistance to infections.  

The numbers indicate roughly 1 out of every 9 Americans over the age of 20 is affected by diabetes -- and the numbers are on the rise.  But there is good news: people can see large health benefits by taking even small steps to cut their risk or to control the disease if they already have it.  For people with risk factors for diabetes, now is the time to take action.  In fact, now is the time for everyone to consider what we can do for ourselves to either reduce the risk of or get better control of diabetes. 

If you are unsure if you have diabetes and you have concerns, be sure to talk to your primary care provider at your next visit.  With a few questions and a simple blood test, you can learn a great deal about your risks and what you can do about them.

There are several different types of diabetes. Type 1, sometimes known as juvenile diabetes, is caused by the body's inability to produce insulin, the hormone that allows cells to take in and use glucose, or blood sugar. Type 1 diabetes, which is not preventable, makes up about 5 to 10 percent of all diabetes cases, and must be treated with insulin.

The most common type of diabetes is type 2, which makes up about 90 to 95 percent of all diagnosed cases. This type often begins as insulin resistance -- a condition in which the body doesn't use insulin properly and, as time goes on, loses the ability to produce it. Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable through lifestyle changes. Another form of diabetes is gestational diabetes, which some women develop during pregnancy. No matter what type of diabetes a person has, good blood glucose management can drastically reduce his or her risk of complications.

Since the symptoms of diabetes can be mild -- and some people have no symptoms at all -- knowing the risk factors is important. People at increased risk for type 2 diabetes include immediate family members of people with diabetes; women who had gestational diabetes while pregnant; people of African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Asian American, or Pacific Islander heritage; people who are overweight or physically inactive; people with a history of impaired glucose metabolism; and older adults. When symptoms of diabetes do occur, they can include increased hunger or thirst, frequent urination, tiredness, blurred vision, and rapid weight loss. Anyone who has experienced any of these symptoms, especially those who are in a high-risk group, should talk to a health-care provider about being screened.

Even people who have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes -- blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet in the diabetes range -- can take control of their health and decrease the likelihood that they will develop diabetes. One major study found that people at high risk for developing diabetes were able to cut their chances of getting it by 58 percent over three years simply through lifestyle changes -- and the reduction was even more impressive for people over 60 years old, who reduced their risk by 71 percent.

Anyone who has symptoms, risk factors, or even a diagnosis of diabetes can start taking steps today to protect his or her health now and in the future.

Good diabetes management means making healthy choices when it comes to diet, exercise, and other lifestyle issues, such as tobacco and alcohol use. The first step is to make a plan. It's important to consult with a health-care provider to customize one's diabetes-management plan. Primary providers may also recommend talking with a nutritionist or a dietician, an eye doctor, a foot specialist, and other specialists who can help fine-tune the plan and guard against complications.

One step everyone with diabetes should take is to work toward reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. A sensible diet features vegetables, fruit, lean protein, and whole grains. People should also create and stick to a fitness plan of at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. Doing so can help manage blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol -- which has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of future complications. Getting fit may also help reduce -- or even eliminate -- the amount of medications needed.

While every individual is unique, there are important lifestyle changes that can generally help control diabetes. Quitting smoking is at the top of the list. Health-care providers can offer advice about medications, support groups, and other resources that can help. Limiting drinking is also important because alcohol can affect blood glucose. Some people with diabetes shouldn't drink alcohol at all, so it's important to consult with a health-care provider for advice.

Most likely you or someone you know is affected by the impact of diabetes.  Fortunately, each of us has the potential to positively influence our own health and quality of life, as well as the ability to encourage others to do the same.  Be sure to talk with and remain in consultation with a health-care professional that knows your case when planning to make significant changes in diet, lifestyle and / or medication.  Taking the time can help you get more out of your time…

The wish of everyone at U.S. WellNet is for everyone to enjoy a holiday season filled with health and happiness.