Diabetes affects 30 million Americans with an additional one in four people with diabetes who don’t know they have it! Diabetes affects the small blood vessels of the heart, kidneys, and brain and can lead to heart disease, chronic kidney disease (CKD) and stroke. In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of CKD. Keeping your diabetes under control can lead to a longer, healthier life with fewer complications. So learn more and make controlling your diabetes a priority.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes occurs when the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood is too high. There are two main types of diabetes:
- Type 1 diabetes is usually first diagnosed in children. People with type 1 diabetes make no insulin and must take insulin every day. (Insulin helps the body use the glucose from food for energy).
- Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, the body does not make or use insulin well. People with type 2 often need to take diabetic medications as well, either pills or insulin.
How is diabetes detected? Who is at risk?
Diabetes is diagnosed with a blood test and/or a urine test. If you are at risk, ask your doctor about being tested. Risk factors for diabetes include:
- Obesity or being overweight
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Certain ethnicities, such as African American, Hispanic, Asian American, Pacific Islander, or American Indian
- Parent, brother, or sister with diabetes
- History of diabetes when pregnant.
How do I know if I have diabetes?
You may have one or more of the warning signs or you may have no signs at all. The only way to know absolutely is a blood test and/or urine test so talk to your health care provider about getting checked.
What are the warning signs?
The warning signs of diabetes are:
- Being very thirsty
- Urinating often
- Feeling very hungry or tired
- Losing weight without trying
- Having sores that heal slowly
- Losing the feeling or having tingling in your feet
- Having blurry eyesight.
What can I do to manage or prevent diabetes?
Managing diabetes requires daily effort. Don’t be discouraged if you have a “bad” day. Just start over and remember your successes. Your successes lead to habits and habits lead to lasting change. Here are a few helpful strategies to prevent diabetic complications.
- Control your blood sugar; check your numbers and record. Bring your
record to your doctor visit for review. If you are having trouble with your medications (not working, too expensive or side effects), let your doctor know so that changes can be made. Don’t wait until your next visit if you are having problems, call and get advice.
- Know your long-term goal or A1C (probably 7% or less). Knowing your goal can keep you motivated.
- Meal planning – This will help you to choose healthier options, control calories and sugar (by reading labels), control your portions (avoid overeating), avoid eating out and saves time both at the grocery store and during your week. If you need help with meal planning, ask about a dietitian consult.
- If you have high blood pressure (hypertension), control your blood pressure. Strive for a diet that is low in sodium (salt) with no added salt and total of less than 2 gram (2000mg) of sodium a day.
- Be physically active on a regular basis with a goal of 150 minutes of activity in a week (30 minutes a day for 5 days). Activity is great because you use the extra sugar so there is less sugar in your blood to be stored as fat! Make “exercise” fun – walking the dog, dancing or taking a yoga class.