Stopping Diabetes in its Tracks
For many of us, it is hard to imagine the daily care required to control diabetes. For those with the disease, a normal day consists of constantly monitoring blood sugar levels, coordinating meals, exercising and insulin injections.
“Diabetes is rapidly growing and a leading cause of death in the U.S.– impacting nearly 26 million people in the U.S. alone,” says Danette McPherson, Registered and Licensed Dietitian at Jersey Shore Hospital. “What’s more, is an estimated 7 million Americans have the condition but remain undiagnosed.” High blood sugar symptoms are easy to dismiss. Excessive hunger, increased thirst, frequent urination, blurry vision, numbness in hands/feet or a waistline that exceeds 40 inches in men and 35 inches in women–are all causes for concern.
To clarify the urgency of leaving diabetes untreated, Dr. Gene Barrett, president of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recently introduced the term “prediabetes”–describing those individuals with high blood glucose (sugar) who are at risk for developing diabetes. Once a person has diabetes, their bodies either do not make insulin or the insulin does not work properly.
The cause of diabetes varies, but obesity, inactivity and genetics are generally responsible. The various types of the disease include: Type 1, which is diagnosed in children under 17-years-old; Type 2 in patients over 20 years-old and gestational diabetes, which occurs in pregnant women.
When diabetes is left untreated it can lead to serious complications such as:
- Kidney failure
- Heart disease
- Nerve damage
- Vascular problems which may lead to lower limb infections and surgery
“Diabetes affects major organs including your heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys,” explains McPherson “It is important to take a diabetes or prediabetes diagnosis seriously to avoid life-threatening complications. Lifestyle changes can potentially reverse the disease in type 2 diabetes patients.”
While there is no cure for diabetes, treatment options usually consist of insulin injections, glucose pills, exercise and a diabetic diet. To curb symptoms patients are encouraged to follow the suggestions below.
- Visit your local healthcare provider regularly for screenings and treatments
- Consume whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
- After seeking medical evaluation, engage in physical activity 30 minutes, 5 days a week
- Limit refined sugars and other carbohydrates
- Maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI)
November is National Diabetes awareness month, the National Diabetes Education Program and McPherson are encouraging people with diabetes to ” Be smart about your heart: Control the ABC’s of Diabetes”. This is a critical message because people with diabetes are nearly two times more likely to die from heart disease or stroke than a person without diabetes.
- A is for the A1C test (A-one-C). This is a blood test that measures your average blood sugar (glucose) level over the past three months.
- B is for Blood pressure
- C is for Cholesterol
- S is for stopping smoking
For more information on diabetes and diabetes awareness, please visit the National Diabetes Education Program and or the American Diabetes Association. For questions about Healthy Eating & Lifestyle changes and how you can manage diabetes before it manages you contact McPherson at Jersey Shore Hospital 570-398-5142.