Learn Your Risks for Diabetes

April 24, 2014

Mercy Clinic physician Michael Stone, DO

Washington, Mo. – Diabetes is one of the fastest growing health concerns in America. Could you, a loved one, or neighbor be at risk?

Diabetes is a chronic condition whereby the body develops a resistance to insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that lowers the amount of glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream.

“Glucose comes from our liver and the food we eat, such as breads, pastas and sweets. It’s a main source of energy for our bodies,” said Mercy Clinic physician Michael Stone, DO. “We need to maintain normal blood glucose levels to function properly and remain healthy.”  

About 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. More Americans are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that if current trends continue, 1 out of 3 adults will have diabetes by 2050.

Surprisingly, millions of people have it and don’t know it and millions have it and don’t achieve the recommended blood-sugar control targets. When blood-sugar levels remain high, health complications arise.

“That’s where the danger lies,” said Dr. Stone. “Diabetes can lead to blindness, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, limb amputations and even death.”  

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes are similar to risk factors for heart disease and stroke: being overweight, being inactive, having a family history that includes diabetes and being age 45 or older.

Type 2 diabetes comes with symptoms that often come on gradually. They include:

  • Urinating often
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Feeling very hungry, despite eating
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands or feet

“If you have risk factors or symptoms, you should discuss them with your doctor and be tested for diabetes,” said Dr. Stone. “Getting tested is very simple. It’s a blood sample that measures your blood-sugar levels.”  

Diabetes is treated with medications, insulin and lifestyle modifications that include nutrition and physical activity. The goal is to lower high blood-glucose levels and prevent serious complications from diabetes.

“Nutrition and exercise are vital to diabetes management because fatty tissue resists the insulin that you need,” said Dr. Stone. “Exercise helps you lose the fatty tissue and helps the body properly absorb insulin. Losing weight also lowers your risks heart disease and stroke.”  

Some people are turning to bariatric surgery to lose weight and manage their diabetes symptoms. The surgery itself, not just the weight loss, has been shown to normalize blood-sugar levels.

For an individualized health assessment, people should call their Mercy Clinic primary care physician.

Dr. Stone is a member of Mercy Clinic Family Medicine, Suite 208, 851 E. Fifth St. in Washington. For more information, or to make an appointment, call 636-390-9090.