November 9, 2017
Diabetes Awareness Month
National Diabetes Month is observed every November so there is at least one time of year when individuals and health professionals can focus their attention on the seriousness and prevalence of diabetes as a chronic health condition among our entire population. For those individuals affected by diabetes, it is not something that is only managed once in a while, but every day.
Managing diabetes requires self-management knowledge and support from family members and an integrated healthcare team. Research has shown that managing diabetes as early as possible can help prevent diabetes-related health problems such as kidney disease, vision loss, heart disease, and stroke.
For people that currently have diabetes or have recently been diagnosed with it, there is a recognized set of steps for helping them manage their condition for life:
- Learn about diabetes
- Know the diabetes ABCs
- Learn how to live with diabetes
- Obtain routine care to stay healthy
Learn about diabetes
There are three main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin – a hormone needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy. Various factors may contribute to type 1 diabetes, including genetics and exposure to certain viruses. Although type 1 diabetes usually appears during childhood or adolescence, it also can begin in adults.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or doesn’t make enough insulin. Once known as adult-onset or noninsulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition that affects the way your body metabolizes glucose. With type 2 diabetes, your body either resists the effects of insulin or doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain a normal glucose level. More common in adults, type 2 diabetes increasingly affects children as childhood obesity increases. There’s no cure for type 2 diabetes, but you may be able to manage the condition by eating well, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight. If diet and exercise aren’t enough to manage your blood sugar well, you also may need diabetes medications in insulin therapy.
Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy (gestation). Like other types of diabetes, gestational diabetes affects how your cells use glucose. Gestational diabetes causes high blood sugar that can affect your pregnancy and your baby’s health. All forms of diabetes can be managed with the guidance of a healthcare provider and support team.
Know the diabetes ABCs
- A – is for A1C. The A1C is a blood test that measures your average blood sugar level over the past three months. It is different from the blood sugar checks you do each day. You don’t want those numbers to get too high. High levels of blood sugar can harm your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, feet, and eyes.
- B – is for Blood Pressure. If your blood pressure gets too high, it makes your heart work too hard. It can cause a heart attack, stroke, and damage your kidneys and eyes.
- C – is for Cholesterol. There are two kids of cholesterol in your blood: LDL (“bad cholesterol”) and HDL (“good cholesterol”). If too much LDL cholesterol builds up, it can clog your blood vessels and possibly cause a heart attack or stroke. HDL cholesterol helps remove the “bad” cholesterol from your blood vessels.
Learn how to live with diabetes
The care plan that best works for you will likely need to be developed over time. Diabetes self-management education can help you with that. The main components of your care plan include: healthy eating, being active, monitoring blood sugar, taking medication, problem solving, healthy coping and reducing risks.
Obtain routine care to stay healthy
See your healthcare team when they advise you to visit, and be sure at each visit you receive a blood pressure check, foot check, weight check, and review of your self-management plan. Additional tests, immunizations, or other exams may be required at different visits as well.
Why is preventing type 2 diabetes so important?
Diabetes is a condition where the body cannot process glucose, one of the fundamental things our body needs to have energy. If undiagnosed or not managed properly, diabetes can be very dangerous. When your body doesn’t make or use insulin properly, it doesn’t covert glucose into energy in order for your body to function. All this extra glucose builds up in your blood stream, depriving your body of the energy it needs. This results in high blood sugar levels.
Prolonged periods of high blood sugar can lead to many problems. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to:
- Kidney disease
- Nervous system disease
- Eye problems or blindness
- Skin problems
- Heart disease
- Peripheral Artery Disease
- High blood pressure
- Dental problems
You can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes through a healthy lifestyle by improving your diet, level of physical activity, and maintaining a healthy weight. These steps will help you stay healthier longer and reduce your risk of developing diabetes or many other chronic health conditions.
Medicare and diabetes
It is also worth noting that often an annual follow-up with a dietician and diabetes educator is a Medicare benefit most people don’t know about, and diabetes education for a first time diagnosis is typically covered by most private insurances. All it takes to take steps toward controlling the disease is a referral from a primary care provider to our education program. Our structured curriculum and can provide you with the knowledge and support that you need.
You are the most important member of your healthcare team. Learn as much as you can about your disease and talk to your diabetes care team about how you can best care for yourself to stay healthy.
Join us at our free World Diabetes Day info table on Tuesday, November 14, 2017 between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. at Fort Memorial Hospital in Fort Atkinson. Learn more