November is National Diabetes Month and a perfect time before the busy holiday season to stop and take a look at your own health. Life is busy. We all are over committed, over worked and over stressed. Our own health is often put at the bottom of our to-do-list and that needs to change.
Earlier this year the Centers for Disease Control released the 2017 Diabetes Statistics Report with estimates for “prevalence and incidence of diabetes, prediabetes, risk factors for complications, acute and long-term complications, deaths, and costs.”
Currently nearly 1 in 10 people living in the United States have diabetes, yet 25 percent of those don’t know it. Also nearly 1 in 3 people in the United States have prediabetes but 89 percent of those people are unaware of their status. Screening is simple and involves the testing of high-risk individuals not to determine whether they meet the criteria for either pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes. However, the greater the number of risk factors present in an individual, the greater the chance of that individual developing or having diabetes.
Risk Factors include:
The risk of developing Type 2 diabetes increases with age (over age 45), obesity (BMI >30), and lack of physical activity. Type 2 diabetes is more common in individuals with a family history of the disease and in members of certain racial/ethnic groups. It occurs more frequently in women with prior gestational diabetes or polycystic ovary syndrome and in individuals with high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Could it be diabetes?
Sometimes our bodies send us signals that something is going on but we are often too busy to notice or may chalk it up to a different problem or event. Some signs that your blood sugar may be too high include:
- Increased urination- Waking often during the night to urinate when you previously had not or urinating frequently in larger amounts than you would expect for such a short time frame between trips to the restroom.
- Increased thirst- all of those trips to the bathroom can be dehydrating so you may notice you are drinking a lot more than usual and your mouth may be more dry
- Uncontrolled Weight Loss- When you have diabetes your cells aren’t getting the energy that they need which can lead to weight loss. Also, frequent urination can lead to loss of calories through the urine and loss of fluid weight.
- Increased Hunger
- Foot pain/numbness
- Frequent yeast or bacterial infections
- Sudden blurry vision- Such as needing to stare at the alarm clock when you first wake up more than you had been, or difficulty focusing on something you hadn’t had issues with before.
What is prediabetes?
Prediabetes means you have a higher-than-normal blood sugar level that’s not high enough to be a diagnosis of diabetes. It is important to get treatment for it because prediabetes can lead to Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Managing prediabetes is your best chance at preventing diabetes. Healthy lifestyle changes include eating a diet rich in complex carbohydrates like whole grains and beans, fruits and vegetables and lean proteins. Exercising regularly and taking medications prescribed by your primary care manager are also very important parts of lowering your risk of Type II diabetes.
If you have a diagnosis of diabetes, it is important to follow-up regularly with your primary care manager who will recommend the appropriate follow-up guidelines. At a minimum, all diabetics should have screening exams annually. If you are a patient of Kirk U.S. Army Health Clinic and have not had a Hemoglobin A1c within the last 12 months, please call 410-278-5475 to schedule yours.
If you don’t have a diagnosis, but have some of the known risk factors, speak with your medical team and discuss what screening may be most appropriate for you. Early intervention can prevent lifelong complications.
Remember … you are the center of your diabetes care team. Your success lies in your hands, you can make a huge difference in your own health and it is often easier than you think.
By Angela Lang, Kirk U.S. Army Health Clinic
Editor’s Note: Angela Lang, MS RD LDN CDE, is a dietitian/certified diabetes educator at Kirk U.S. Army Health Clinic.