By Mercy's Courtney Landsberger
November is diabetes awareness month, but what is the big deal? We hear about diabetes all the time.
The big deal is that 29.1 million Americans have diabetes. Every five minutes, two people die of diabetes-related causes and 14 adults are diagnosed. Risk of death for adults with diabetes is 50 percent higher than for adults without diabetes.
Unfortunately, one in four people don’t know they have the disease. According to the American Diabetes Association, one out of three Americans has pre-diabetes, which is when your blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not yet high enough to have diabetes.
It’s also a big deal because diabetes can be costly and can lead to a variety of ailments:
Money. People with diabetes have more health problems, spend more on medications, are hospitalized more often and lose more days at work than people without diabetes. Medical costs are twice as high for those with diabetes, to the tune of $245 billion per year in the U.S.
Blindness. People who have diabetes are at higher risk for losing their eyesight if they do not control their blood sugar.
Kidney failure. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, which can mean dialysis. Dialysis is when a person is hooked up to a machine that does the work of filtering and cleaning the blood.
Heart disease and stroke. Diabetes affects tiny blood vessels throughout the body. The blood may be “stickier,” which can cause clogging of blood vessels that carry blood to the heart and brain. Diabetes is the cause of more than 70 percent of heart attacks and strokes.
Debra Graham is a registered nurse who has been living with diabetes for almost two decades.
“I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during my second pregnancy,” said Graham. “Shortly after, I was diagnosed with type 2.”
Graham now uses her own story to teach others through Mercy’s Diabetic Education Program.
“I know the difficulties and challenges other diabetics face, and in the past, I’ve struggled to take control on my diabetes because I had misconceptions about the disease and about the lifestyle change it can require,” she said. “I knew that in order to teach my own patients how to manage their diabetes, I needed to learn how to manage my own.”
Graham has now gone from four injections of insulin per day to zero.
“I learned that my diabetes was part of who I am,” she said. “But I’ve also learned that I can take control of my health by making simple changes.”
Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or controlled by:
- Getting more physical activity. Research shows aerobic exercise and resistance training can help control diabetes. Losing weight and lowering blood sugar can help prevent it
- Getting more fiber. Foods high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains and nuts help improve blood sugar control. In addition, fiber helps lower your risk of heart disease, and promotes weight loss by helping you feel full.
- Go for whole grains. Whole grains may reduce your risk of diabetes and help maintain blood sugar levels. Many foods made from whole grains come ready to eat, including breads, pastas and cereals.
- Lose extra weight. Every pound you lose can improve your health.
- Skip fad diets. While they may help you lose weight at first, their effectiveness at preventing diabetes is not known. Instead, make healthier choices and make variety and portion control part of your healthy-eating plan.
Be aware that the energy you invest in a healthy lifestyle can reap great rewards in feeling well, spending less on health care and having fewer health problems.
If you do have diabetes, your physician can refer you to Mercy Hospital Ardmore’s diabetes education program where you can learn about diabetes management and gain resources. For more information on Mercy’s diabetes education program, please call Debra Graham, RN, BSN, DNE, at 580-220-6764.
Also, remember that as a diabetic your feet need extra care and attention, even if they don’t hurt. High blood sugars over time can result in less blood flow - which can make it more difficult to heal cuts or sores. Less blow flow can also cause toes and feet to stop functioning.
If you have a diabetic wound that is hard-to-heal, Mercy Hyperbaric and Wound Care – Ardmore at 1001 12th Avenue Northwest can help. For more information, call 580-220-6290.
Type 1 and Type 2 - What’s the Difference?
When talking about diabetes, you’ll often hear people refer to type 1 or type 2, but what does that mean?
Type 1 diabetes is the result of an immune system malfunction. The body’s immune system destroys the cells that release insulin, eventually eliminating insulin production from the body. Without insulin, cells cannot absorb sugar, which they need to produce energy, and episodes of low blood sugar level or hypoglycemia are common. Type 1 diabetes accounts for five to ten out of 100 people who have diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes can develop at any age, and while it most commonly occurs during adulthood, cases in children are rising. In type 2 diabetes, the body isn’t able to use insulin the right way. As type 2 diabetes worsens, the pancreas may make less and less insulin.
What is insulin?
Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that allows your body to use sugar from carbohydrates in the food you eat for energy. It also allows your body to store glucose for future use and helps keep your blood sugar level from getting too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia).