Diabetes – Are You At Risk?


Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose levels are above normal.

Most of the food that we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or cannot use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugar to build up in your blood. Diabetes can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations.

There are 4 common types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, Gestational, and Prediabetes.

Type 1 diabetes happens when your pancreas stops making insulin.

This usually happens before the age of 35. The cause is not yet understood. It can happen because of an injury to your abdomen or a viral illness that affects the pancreas. Or it might be caused by an autoimmune disease (where your body attacks part of itself ). If you have type 1 diabetes you will need to take insulin the rest of your life (unless you have a pancreas cell transplant).

Type 2 diabetes happens when your pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin or you become unable to use the insulin.

It usually begins in adulthood but can start in when you are a child. There are many things that can put you at higher risk of having type 2 diabetes. They include race (it’s more common among brown-skinned people), family history, too little physical activity, overweight, and a high-calorie diet. Type 2 diabetes can sometimes be controlled with diet and exercise, but often it needs to be treated with medicine to lower the blood sugar.

Gestational diabetes happens when a woman starts having high blood sugar during pregnancy.

Diagnosis and treatment of this type of diabetes is very important. Not only can the mother have problems from high blood sugar, but so can the baby. For example, the baby might be born too early. The baby can grow very large during the pregnancy because of the mother’s high blood sugar. At birth, when the baby is separated from the mother’s ample blood sugar supply, the baby can have problems with low blood sugar until it is nursing well. Gestational diabetes can sometimes be controlled with diet, but often the mother needs to take insulin until the baby is born.

Prediabetes is a term used if your blood sugar is above normal but not yet high enough to be called diabetes.

If you have prediabetes, you are at very high risk of having diabetes unless you do things to lower your risk. You can lower your risk and never develop diabetes by eating healthy and being more active.

Step 1: Know who’s at risk
Diabetes is on the rise aecting one fifth of the population. It’s more common among African- Americans, Latinos, Native-Americans, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders. If you belong to one of these ethnic groups, be sure that you know the other risk factors and try to pay special attention to the possible warnings signs of diabetes.

Step 2: Assess your own risk
Take the simple test on the facing panel.

Step 3: Prevent or Delay Diabetes
Because diabetes is partly linked to genetics, not everyone can prevent its onset. However, in many cases, diabetes can be prevented or delayed, giving you many more years of disease-free living. Here’s how:

Lose weight, even a little. The National Institutes of Health found that losing 5 to 7 percent of body weight – as little as 10 pounds for a 200-pound person – can prevent a delay the onset of diabetes.

Add movement. Researchers also found that just a 50 to 10 percent reduction in body weight, together with a daily half-hour of moderate exercise, can reduce your risk by a shipping 58 percent. Easiest way: Walk whenever you can. Know your fats. All fats pile on calories, but some are worse than others. Cut back especially on saturated fats, including trans-fatty acids, which raise the risk of obesity. They appear as “partially hydrogenated” oils on food labels.

Load up on the good stuff. Buy more fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains every time you shop. Limit salt and alcohol. Both can raise your blood pressure, a risk factor for diabetes Cut back on fast food. It’s been shown that people who visit fast food restaurants twice a week double their risk of diabetes.

Got dairy? The results of a 15-year study reported that drinking milk and eating cheese and yogurt may help preventing diabetes. Just make sure you choose the low-fat versions.

Step 4: Be on the Guard
Many people with diabetes don’t experience symptoms, or the symptoms are so mild that they go unnoticed. The following steps can help you be more vigilant.

Watch your weight. Your weight can go up or down 2 to 3 pounds during the course of the day. However, continued weight loss that can’t be explained by diet or exercise may be a sign of diabetes…..or depression, cancer or an overactive thyroid.

Don’t ignore other warning signs. Extreme hunger, increase fatigue, blurred vision and sores that don’t heal are all signs that you may have diabetes.

Ask about screening. Anyone 45 or older or belonging to a high-risk group should be tested for diabetes. Your provider can conduct either a Fasting Plasma Glucose Test (FPGT) or an Oral Glucose Tolerance test (OFIT). Either can tell whether you have diabetes or pre-diabetes.

Step 5: Stay Alive!
If you’re diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, follow your health care team’s plan to the letter, including watching your blood pressure and cholesterol to reduce the change of heart attack or stroke.

Facts about Diabetes

It’s more common than you think.
More than 18 million Americans have diabetes, but another 41 million have pre-diabetes and are at high risk.

Eating too much sugar does not cause diabetes.
Not by itself. But eating too many empty calories can lead to being overweight, which does raise your risk.

You can’t catch diabetes from someone else.
The disease is caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors, not a virus or bacteria.

People with diabetes can eat chocolate and other sweets.
These foods are not “off limits.” Don’t be afraid to offer them as treats, as long as the person sticks to a health meal plan.

Starchy foods are OK, too.
If you’re planning to serve a meal to a person with diabetes, whole-grain breads, potatoes and pasta can be on the menu. Just watch portion sizes.

You are not a higher risk for colds and u if you have diabetes.
But people with diabetes are advised to get u shots because u can interfere with blood sugar management.

The sooner diabetes is detected, the better.
Early detection limits damage to your kidneys, your heart, and even your eyes. That’s why being tested for diabetes is so important if you’re at high risk.

You can live with diabetes.
Eating well balanced meals, staying physically active and following your heath care team’s plan can keep life as normal as possible – and help your health.