National Diabetes Month, recognized each November, brings awareness to the risk factors, symptoms, and different types of diabetes.
According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 34 million Americans have Type 2 Diabetes. Of that, 7.3 million show high glucose levels, but haven’t officially been diagnosed with diabetes.Another 1.6 million Americans, typically children and young adults, live with Type 1 Diabetes, which is an insulin dependent condition where the pancreas makes no insulin.
At UnityPoint Health – Trinity Regional Medical Center, we strive to bring awareness of this chronic, long-lasting health condition to those in our community. The Trinity Diabetes Center will be hosting their free, Annual Diabetes Fair on Wednesday, Nov. 9 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Trinity in Conference Center 2. This event allows community members to learn more about diabetes and have their questions answered by professionals. We’ll also have informational booths, refreshments, and drawings for door prizes.
With diabetes, the body doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use it as well as it should. Typically, the body breaks food down into sugar/glucose and releases it into the bloodstream. Blood sugar levels rise and the pancreas releases insulin – the key to let the blood sugar into the body’s cells for use as energy. If there isn’t enough insulin, or if cells stop responding to the insulin, too much blood sugar remains in the blood stream. Over time, this can cause serious health problems, including heart disease, vision loss and kidney disease.
Although some individuals with Type 2 Diabetes may have mild symptoms that go unnoticed, there are many common signs and symptoms of diabetes.
• Urinating often
• Feeling very thirsty
• Feeling very hungry, even though you are eating
• Extreme fatigue
• Blurry vision
• Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal
• Weight loss, even though you are eating more (Type 1)
• Tingling, pain or numbness in the hands or feet
Early detection and treatments will decrease the risk of developing complications associated with diabetes. Regardless of age, gender or lifestyle habits, an annual physical is vital to overall health. Primary care providers are able to provide preventative care, which is one of the best ways to treat health issues, including diabetes, before they become a problem.
There isn’t a cure for diabetes, but losing weight, eating healthy food and being active can really help. Individuals should also take medicine as prescribed, receive diabetes self-management education, and keep health care appointments.
Another serious health condition is prediabetes, where blood sugar levels are elevated, but not high enough to be diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. In America, 88 million adults have prediabetes. It’s important to be aware of the risk factors, signs, and symptoms of diabetes, along with how to prevent and control the disease.
Anyone can develop diabetes, but some individuals have a higher probability. Risk factors include, but are not limited to:
• Over 40 years old
• Family history of diabetes
• Not being active enough
• History of gestational diabetes
• Certain ethnic groups (African American, Hispanic/Latino American, Asian American, American Indian, Pacific Islander and Alaskan Native)
Individuals who are overweight and have prediabetes can lose weight and exercise regularly to lower their risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Individuals should aim to lose a small amount of weight – just 5 to 7 percent of their body weight – and get at least 150 minutes a week of brisk walking, or a similar activity. That’s just 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
A great way to get exercise this winter is at Trinity. We welcomed back Trinity Hall Walkers to walk inside the hospital daily from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. We ask all new hall walkers to register in the Trinity Diabetes Center anytime on Tuesdays to complete a walking waiver, receive a walking pass and map, and take a tour of the path. We also offer free blood pressure checks at the Trinity Diabetes Center each Tuesday from 8-9 a.m.
If you would like to know if you are at risk for diabetes, complete a simple risk test online: www.diabetes.org/risk-test. If you are diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes, you have a great community and our team at the Trinity Diabetes Center to support you. You don’t have to maneuver this by yourself. If you or someone you know is diabetic and has questions or needs more information, please call the Trinity Diabetes Center at 515-574-6350.
Julie Bass is a registered nurse working in diabetes education.