November is National Diabetes Month

Do you have diabetes or know someone who does? According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than 29 million Americans have diabetes and about 86 million are on the brink of having the disease. Did you know that this disease can be a silent condition? That is, many of us have no idea that we have diabetes. NIH reports that those of us with diabetes are about two times likely to die from heart disease than people without diabetes. In addition, these very same people are at a greater risk to develop eye, nerve and kidney diseases, and other painful and costly consequences as a result of the diabetes.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a health condition where your blood sugar level is higher than normal. When you have diabetes:

  • Your pancreas does not make enough insulin or no insulin at all. Your body may also prevent insulin from working correctly. When this takes place, sugar cannot get into your cells; it stays in your blood. This high concentration of sugar (glucose) in your blood is also called hyperglycemia.

Having high or low blood sugar can cause adverse complications. That’s why it’s important to control and manage your blood sugar level. Your medical doctor will recommend how and when to check your blood sugar level. Do follow your doctor’s instructions.

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

As previously mentioned, diabetes can be a silent condition; that is, you may not have any symptoms of the disease. However, some of the signs commonly experienced include:

  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Excessive thirst and hunger
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vison
  • Scrapes , cuts, or bruises taking longer to heal
  • Numbness and/or tingling of the extremities

What are the types of diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes – The body makes very little or no insulin. People with this type of diabetes must take insulin daily. Usually, type 1 diabetes is diagnosed in children or young adults. However, it can appear at any age.

Type 2 diabetes – The body does not allow insulin it makes to work properly. The body makes some, but not enough insulin. Most people with diabetes usually have type 2. People with type 2 diabetes usually are older, overweight, or obese. It’s important to note, however, that type 2 diabetes is not exclusively caused by people who are overweight or obese.  An unhealthy body mass index (BMI) will raise your risk. About 15 percent of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight. An inactive lifestyle can also contribute to type 2 diabetes.

What are the risk factors of diabetes that cannot be changed?

  • Family history – Type 2 diabetes can run in families.
  • Age – Most people develop type 2 diabetes after 45.
  • Race/Ethnicity – Diabetes more commonly occurs among certain ethnic groups, e.g. African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans.

For a healthier lifestyle, what are some risk factors that can be modified or changed?

  • Exercise – Getting off the couch helps. Exercise helps to reduces risk factors.
  • Losing weight – Overweight is the largest risk factor for diabetes. So, of course, losing weight extremely important.
  • Healthy diet – A diet that includes whole grains and low in sweets will greatly reduce the risk of diabetes. The key is consuming fewer calories. Avoid high fat, processed and sugary foods, including white rice, white bread, fried potatoes, sugary drinks, candy, and other sweets.

Medicare Can Help

Medicare will pay to help seniors learn how to care for their diabetes. It will also assist and help pay for diabetes tests, supplies, foot exams, special shoes, eye tests, meal planning, etc. For more information about what Medicare covers, check your Medicare plan, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), or visit www.medicare.gov/Health/Diabetes.asp.

For more resource information about diabetes and other related senior services, contact Assisted Transition of Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky at 513-246-4127.

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