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Diabetes & You: Do You Know Your Risk?

Diabetes Know Your Risk Riverside Medical Clinic

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. In the last 20 years, cases of diabetes have doubled! The CDC believes over 34 million people in the U.S. have diabetes – and 1 in 5 don’t know it yet. There are also 84 million people with pre-diabetes. Could you be one of them? For the millions of people who are at risk, it’s time to get more information and find resources to help reverse the course.

What is diabetes? 

According to the CDC, diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. Most of the food you eat becomes sugar and is released into your bloodstream. Insulin, a hormone in your pancreas, helps your body turn that sugar (also called glucose) into energy. After you eat, your blood sugar level rises. It triggers your pancreas to release insulin, which travels to your cells. The cells convert the glucose into energy or store it for later use. Without insulin, the glucose just stays in your blood. Over time, that can cause other health problems, including vision loss, kidney disease and heart disease. Diabetes is the number one cause of kidney failure and adult blindness. There isn’t a cure yet, but losing weight, eating healthy food and becoming active can help.

Types of diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that stops your body from making insulin. So, if you have this type, you’ll need to take insulin every day. It’s usually diagnosed in children, teens and young adults. Up to 10% of the people with diabetes have type 1. 

Type 2 diabetes is the most popular form. It’s where your body doesn’t use insulin properly so your blood sugar doesn’t stay at normal levels. About 90% of people with diabetes have type 2. It usually develops over many years. Type 2 can be prevented with healthy lifestyle changes.

Approximately 1 in 3 adults has pre-diabetes. It means your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, though not high enough yet to be diagnosed with diabetes. It doesn’t necessarily mean you will develop diabetes – especially if you modify your lifestyle – but you are at a greater risk. For some people, early treatment can help your blood sugar levels return to the normal range, preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes. Want to know if you have pre-diabetes? Go to doihaveprediabetes.org and take the simple risk test. You’ll be able to confirm your results with your doctor and even enroll in a CDC-recognized lifestyle change program that can help you prevent diabetes.

Gestational diabetes develops in pregnant women who never had diabetes and it usually goes away after giving birth. However, it increases your risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life and also puts your baby at risk for health problems. 

The thing about diabetes is that it can make you more susceptible to other serious diseases. It places a strain on your heart. Over time, high blood glucose levels damage blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart. So, people with diabetes are twice as likely to die from heart disease or stroke. 

Risk factors

The American Diabetes Association offers a quick, 60-second test you can take online to determine your risk for Type 2 Diabetes. 

What is A1C?

It’s a simple blood test that can identify prediabetes and diabetes. It’s also a way to monitor how well your diabetes treatment is going. The test can tell your average blood sugar level over the past two months. A1C numbers are reported as a percentage. The higher the percentage, the higher your blood sugar levels were over the past two months. The goal for adults is usually less than 7%, but it can vary depending on your age and other factors, so they can be different than someone else’s. Your doctor can determine how often you should take the A1C test to see if you’re meeting your goals or if your treatment should be changed.

Managing your blood sugar levels

For people with diabetes, managing your blood sugar is very important in order to help you prevent more serious health problems. Low blood sugar can cause shaking, sweating, anxiety, confusion, dizziness and hunger. It can happen if you miss a meal or take too much insulin or drink alcohol. The opposite is high blood sugar, which can occur if you eat more than planned or don’t take enough insulin. Symptoms include being very tired, being very thirsty, having blurred vision, or urinating a lot. 

What else can you do?

Come in to Riverside Medical Clinic for a yearly check-up. Talk to your doctor about the results of your online pre-diabetes test or if you have a family history of diabetes. There are also steps you can take to lower your chances:

  1. Stop smoking and using tobacco products
  2. Choose foods lower in saturated fat, trans fat, sugar and salt
  3. Don’t skip meals, which can cause blood sugar levels to plummet and then spike
  4. Switch to water instead of sugary drinks
  5. Limit alcoholic drinks, which have a confusing effect on blood sugar – either causing it to rise or drop to dangerous levels
  6. Be more physically active
  7. Learn how to manage stress
  8. Take any medicines prescribed by your doctor
  9. Ask about Riverside Medical Clinic’s free diabetes management program. In three classes, you’ll learn more about the disease, how food and alcohol affect blood sugar, meal planning and ways to reduce the chance of complications.
  10. Think positive! Small changes can have big results and there are lots of new ways to manage diabetes (with less needles).

Call Riverside Medical Clinic at 951-683-6370 today.