Nov. 24--November is the start of the holiday season -- a time to celebrate fun,
family and food.
It also is a time to consider a medical condition for which as many as 79
million American adults is at risk of contracting: diabetes.
November is American Diabetes Month. If you aren't living with diabetes
yourself, chances are that at least one of the friends or loved ones with whom
you will celebrate in the coming weeks has been touched by the disease.
Diabetes is a condition that causes blood sugar levels to rise higher than
normal. Our bodies break down the food we eat into glucose, or sugar, so it can
be used for energy. A hormone called insulin helps the glucose to get inside our
cells. When our bodies don't make enough insulin or the insulin we have isn't
being used properly, sugar starts to build up in the blood. Complications from
diabetes can include blindness, heart disease, hearing loss, kidney failure,
severe nerve damage leading to limb amputations and strokes.
More than 25 million Americans currently have diabetes. This number is on the
rise, and more than one in three American adults suffers from prediabetes, which
occurs when blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to
be considered diabetes. People with prediabetes who do not change their
lifestyles usually develop type 2 diabetes, otherwise known as adult-onset
diabetes, within three years.
Changing your lifestyle to incorporate regular physical activity, weight loss
and a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables can help maintain blood
sugar levels. This can help prevent diabetes in those who have prediabetes and
assist those who have diabetes in better managing their disease.
The worst complications from diabetes often occur when the disease goes
unchecked. With the help of healthy lifestyle changes, insulin medication and
blood sugar monitoring, we can prevent these from happening. Symptoms of
--Feeling very thirsty or very hungry even when you have just eaten;
--Slow-healing cuts and bruises; and
--Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet.
If this list looks familiar to you, talk to a doctor as soon as possible. If you
can detect your diabetes early, you and your doctor can help control it
Prediabetes, unfortunately, has almost no symptoms, so people should carefully
assess their risk factors for type 2 diabetes. These include:
--Being 45 years of age or older;
--A family history of type 2 diabetes;
--Engaging in physical activity less than 3 times a week;
--Having had diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes); and
--Having given birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds.
If one or more of these factors describes you, talk to your doctor about your
diabetes risks and get your glucose levels checked.
To learn more about diabetes and take a risk factor test, visit the American
Diabetes Association at www.diabetes.org. To locate an area physician who can
help you manage your diabetes call 1-800-424-DOCS (3627).
(c)2013 the Danville Register & Bee (Danville, Va.)
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