Facts about Diabetes

What You Need to Know About Diabetes

Lisa Hartley, RN,BSN, CDE
Diabetes and Nutrition Education Program Coordinator, Marshall Medical Center

Diabetes is a group of diseases marked by high levels of blood glucose resulting from defects in insulin production, insulin action, or both. Diabetes can lead to serious complications, including heart disease and stroke leading to premature death. The good news is that people with diabetes can take steps to learn about the disease and how to control it to lower their risk of developing complications.

About 29.1 million people in the United States have Diabetes (9.3 % of the population) and 1 out of 4 do not know it. Another 86 million have a condition referred to as prediabetes and most of these people (90%) are unaware of their condition.  Prediabetes occurs when blood sugar (glucose) levels are above normal but not to the level of actually diagnosing Diabetes. Recent research has shown that some long-term damage to the body, especially the heart and blood vessels, may already be occurring with prediabetes. The good news for people with prediabetes is that research has also shown that managing your blood glucose levels can delay or prevent Type 2 Diabetes from ever developing. 

There are many types of Diabetes, with Type 2 Diabetes being the most common (~90%). The increasing rates of prediabetes and diabetes (including increasing rates in children and adolescents) are very alarming. As many as 1 in 3 American adults will have diabetes by 2050 if present trends continue.

The risk factors for preiabetes and diabetes include: being overweight, physically inactive, a family history of diabetes, gestational diabetes or had a baby with a birth weight of over 9 lbs, high blood pressure (over 140/90 mmHg), low HDL cholesterol (35 mg/dl or lower) or high triglycerides (250 mg/dl or higher) and some ethnic groups have higher rates of diabetes (African American, Native American, Asian American, Pacific Islander or Hispanic American).

Diabetes often goes undiagnosed because symptoms are not recognized. Some typical diabetes symptoms include:  increased fatigue, frequent urination, excessive thirst, irritability, blurry vision, extreme hunger, and  unusual weight loss. If you have one or more of these diabetes symptoms, see your Health Care Provider right away.

Lifestyle changes are extremely important for decreasing the risks of developing diabetes and for managing diabetes. Controlling blood glucose levels, blood pressure and cholesterol levels can be accomplished by the following:

Healthy Eating – A well balanced diet which includes whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables.  Limit fats, especially saturated fat and sodium in your diet.
Being Active - Engage in physical activity at least 30 minutes, most days of the week. This will help to maintain a healthy, reasonable body weight. 
- Monitoring – Know your numbers - glucose levels, B/P, cholesterol levels
Taking Medications – Take all medications as prescribed.  Know the reason for taking the medications including: the best time of day, and if taken with or without food.
- Problem solving - Identify barriers and goal setting.
Risk Reduction -Stop smoking and avoid excessive alcohol intake. 
- Healthy Coping -Manage stress levels by learning to control your response to stress.

Diabetes educators are health professionals who possess comprehensive knowledge of and experience in prediabetes, diabetes prevention, diabetes during pregnancy and management. They educate and support people affected by diabetes to understand and manage the condition. Marshall Medical Diabetes and Nutrition Education program offers group classes and individual appointments in a caring and compassionate atmosphere. Allow our expert Registered Nurse, Certified Diabetes Educators and Registered Dietitians to be part of your diabetes care team.

Learn more about diabetes from your Health Care Provider, visit the American Diabetes Association web site at www.diabetes.org or through the Marshall Medical Center’s Diabetes and Nutrition Education Program. Call our main office:  530-672-7021 or click on classes on our website.