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AMERICAN DIABETES MONTH

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Diabetes

Millions of Americans are living with diabetes. It is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the United States and poses a risk of nerve damage, kidney failure, and heart disease. November is American Diabetes Month and is an ideal time to schedule a screening with Ascend Medical’s primary care services and get treatment if needed. Early treatment helps prevent life-threatening complications. We will cover more information on diabetes below.

What is Diabetes? 

According to the International Diabetes Federation, diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas is no longer able to make insulin, or when the body cannot make good use of the insulin it produces.

Everyone has insulin. It is a hormone made by the pancreas that lets glucose from food pass from the bloodstream into the body to produce energy. Without a normal level of glucose, failure of valuable organs and tissues may occur.

There are three main types of diabetes that can target different age groups.

What Is Type 2 Diabetes? 

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes and makes up for about 90% of all diabetes cases. In type 2 diabetes,  your cells do not respond to insulin (called insulin resistance) and blood sugar levels in the blood start to rise. The pancreas pumps out more and more insulin but eventually can’t keep up. That leads to high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia). High levels of sugar in the blood can be extremely damaging to the body, leading to serious problems such as heart and kidney diseases, vision loss and more.

Type 2 is more common after age 45 but can happen at any age, even in young adults and children. The rise in obesity (40% of US adults are obese) is a key contributor to the rise in type 2 diabetes. This is why getting to a healthy weight through healthy eating and regular activity is extremely important.

High blood sugar from diabetes can cause damage for many years before symptoms develop. That’s why experts recommend diabetes screening with a blood test for adults over 40.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:

  • Excessive thirst and dry mouth
  • Frequent urination
  • Lack of energy, tiredness
  • Slow healing wounds
  • Recurrent infections in the skin
  • Blurred vision
  • Tingling or numbness in hands and feet

If you experience any of these symptoms, please speak with an Ascend Medical provider right away.

Medications — pills and injections — can control high blood sugar and help prevent complications. It’s also possible to manage diabetes through a healthy lifestyle by losing weight, healthy eating, and being active.

What Is Type 1 Diabetes? 

Type 1 diabetes affects about 10% of people with diabetes. It is caused by an autoimmune reaction when the body’s defense system attacks insulin producing cells. We’re not sure what causes type 1 diabetes, but it’s likely due to a combination of genetic and environmental conditions, like a viral infection. It’s usually diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults, but can happen at any age. Since it is mostly found in children, type 1 diabetes was previously called “juvenile diabetes.”

Although we don’t know how to prevent type 1 diabetes, it can be treated with insulin along with a healthy, active lifestyle.

Some symptoms of type 1 diabetes include:

  • Abnormal thirst and dry mouth
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Frequent urination
  • Lack of energy, tiredness
  • Constant hunger
  • Blurred vision
  • Bedwetting

What Is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes happens during pregnancy. Although this type of diabetes typically “goes away” after pregnancy, the affected woman is more likely to develop type 2 diabetes down the road. That’s why it’s especially important to maintain a healthy lifestyle to help prevent diabetes.

How To Prevent Diabetes

Your Ascend Medical providers can help you understand how to prevent diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes. Because type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes are more common if you’re overweight or obese, losing weight through healthy eating and activity is often the first step towards preventing the condition. We don’t know how to prevent type 1 diabetes since we know less about its causes.

Your Ascend provider can help you create a healthy lifestyle plan, which includes drinking more water, eating a diet rich in non-starchy vegetables with lean protein, and limiting sugary processed foods, and saturated fats.

Because diabetes often has no symptoms, all adults starting at age 40 should be screened for diabetes with a blood test at least every 3 years. The most common screening tests for type 2 diabetes include:

  • Fasting blood sugar test, which measures your blood sugar after fasting
  • A1C test, which measures your average blood sugar level over the past 2 to 3 months

 

Talk to your Ascend Medical provider about scheduling a diabetes screening today!

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