Diabetes is a serious, lifelong condition. It is widely recognized as one of the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. More than 100 million U.S. adults are now living with diabetes or prediabetes, according to a report released in 2017 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Diabetes is associated with long-term complications that affect almost every part of the body. The disease often leads to blindness, heart and blood vessel disease, stroke, kidney failure, amputations, and nerve damage. Uncontrolled diabetes can complicate pregnancy, and birth defects are more common in babies born to women with diabetes.
Did You Know…
84.1 million adults aged 18 years or older have prediabetes (33.9% of the adult US population) – and 9 out of 10 of them don’t even know they have it!
In 2014, a total of 7.2 million hospital discharges were reported with diabetes as any listed diagnosis among U.S. adults aged 18 years or older
Diabetics have longer, more costly hospital stays that often begin in the emergency room.
Co-morbidities occur twice as often in diabetics than in individuals without diabetes.
Hypertension is the most common co-morbidity found in hospitalized diabetics.
Type I diabetes — Type I Diabetes is an autoimmune disease, which means that the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. The pancreas then produces little or no insulin. A person who has Type I diabetes must take insulin daily to live. Type 1 diabetes accounts for just 5 percent of diagnosed diabetes in the United States. It develops most often in children and young adults but can appear at any age.
Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes usually appear suddenly and develop over a short period, although beta cell destruction can begin years earlier. Symptoms may include increased thirst and urination, constant hunger, weight loss, blurred vision, and extreme fatigue. If not diagnosed and treated with insulin, a person with Type 1 diabetes can lapse into a life-threatening diabetic coma.
Type II diabetes —Type II diabetes is the most common form, occurring in about 90-95 percent of diabetics. It is most often found with older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, previous history of gestational diabetes, physical inactivity, and certain ethnicities. About 80 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight. That is why Type II diabetes improves by living a healthy lifestyle.
In Type II diabetes, the pancreas produces enough insulin, but the body cannot use it. Over time, insulin production decreases and the body is unable to efficiently use glucose, a main source of body fuel. In Type II diabetes, symptoms develop slowly. Check it out if you have the following symptoms: High Blood Sugar Symptoms: fatigue, no energy, frequent urination, increased thirst and hunger, weight loss, blurred vision, and slow healing of wounds or sores. Some people have no symptoms, or they have felt bad for so long that they don’t notice. Low Blood Sugar Symptoms: Nervousness, shakes, confusion, impaired judgment and even fainting.
Type III diabetes — Gestational Diabetes is caused by pregnancy hormones or a shortage of insulin, and may appear late in pregnancy. Upwards of 10 percent of pregnant women in the United States develop gestational diabetes. This form of diabetes usually disappears after the birth of the baby. Women who have had gestational diabetes have a 50 percent chance of developing Type II diabetes within 5 to 10 years. Symptoms are like those in Type II diabetes, but some women have no symptoms.
Pre-Diabetes — America is now more obese and sedentary causing pre-diabetes and diabetes rates to soar! Individuals with pre-diabetes have an abnormal glucose test, which is not quite high enough to be classified as being diabetic. With increasing obesity, especially extra abdominal weight, at least 84 million Americans have this condition.
Finding and Treating Diabetes
If you think that you could have diabetes, see your doctor. The doctor will perform a fasting glucose test to diagnose you. If you have diabetes, you may be treated with insulin and / or oral medications, and sometimes just by diet.
Diabetes can be prevented or delayed by maintaining a normal weight, healthy eating (See www.choosemyplate.gov for the great guidelines), resting / sleeping enough, reducing stress and getting at least 30 minutes of active exercise at least 5 days per week. The failure to take charge of your health puts you at high risk for developing Type II diabetes within 10 years.
The Four Steps of Controlling Your Diabetes
The Four Steps of controlling your diabetes are as follows:
Step One: Learn about your diabetes. Find out which type of diabetes you have and how living a healthy lifestyle, taking your medications, following your doctor’s treatment plan and testing your blood sugar every day will help you live life to the fullest. Know the symptoms of blood sugar that is too high or too low and what to do about it.
Step Two: Know your diabetes A, B, Cs!
A is for A1c. A blood test that shows how your blood sugar has been over the last three months— Remember: A high blood sugar baths your body in sugar and causes damage to your nerves and organs. Your A1c should be less than 7.
B is for blood pressure. Take your blood pressure or have someone else take it and write it down. You should aim for a blood pressure of at least 130/80, and ideally 120/80 or less.
C is for cholesterol. You need to get a “lipid panel” to test for cholesterol and triglycerides (blood fats) every year. Ideally, your LDL (bad cholesterol) will be less than 100 and your HDL (good cholesterol) will be high.
Step Three: Manage your diabetes. Watch your portions, eat more fiber, use less salt and fat, exercise 30-60 minutes on most days—brisk walking is great, stop smoking, maintain a normal weight, ask your doctor if you need to take a daily aspirin to avoid a stroke or heart attack, take your medications as prescribed, check your feet and legs for skin breaks and sores daily, test your blood sugar, brush and floss your teeth daily, and report changes to your doctor.
Step Four: Get routine medical care. See your doctor twice each year to find and treat problems early. Review your personal plan of care. At each visit get your weight, feet and blood pressure checked. Twice each year, you need an A1c. If it is higher than 7, you need this test more often. Each year you need a lipid panel, complete foot exam, a dental exam to check your teeth and gums, a dilated eye exam, a flu shot, and a urine and blood test to check for kidney problems. Ask your doctor about a pneumonia shot.
References and resources:
1. For an overview of diabetes – visit https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes. For additional statistics, see the National Diabetes Statistics fact sheet online at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/diabetes-statistics.
2. Resources to learn more:
National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) at www.YourDiabetesInfo.org or call toll free: 877-664-6140
American Diabetes Association at www.diabetes.org or call toll free at 800.342.2383
American Heart Association at www.AmericanHeart.org or call toll free at 800.242.8721
USDA Guidelines www.choosemyplate.gov
CDC Diabetes at Work resource site: www.cdc.gov/diabetes/diabetesatwork/about/kits-resources.html
To download the Diabetes Facts and Resources PDF, please click here.