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Education Key in Turning Back Clock on Pandemic

“Every 23 seconds someone hears the three words that will change their life as they know it: “You have diabetes.” 

Photo Credit: Anthony Stewart March 25, 2017
Acres of Angels Diabetes Walk

Houston- For many, hearing that news leaves many speechless and wondering what to do next.

However, one of the best ways to battle the news is to fight back with guts, grit, education, activity and determination to win.

That is one of the main reasons for the annual Diabetes Walk in Lincoln Park in Acres Home.

The Step Out Walk directly supports research, education and advocacy for people living with type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high, according to The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases .

The (NIDDK) is part of the National Institutes of Health and translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public.

Blood glucose is your main source of energy and comes from the food you eat. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose from food get into your cells to be used for energy. Sometimes your body doesn’t make enough—or any—insulin or doesn’t use insulin well. Glucose then stays in your blood and doesn’t reach your cells.

Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause health problems.

Compared to the general population, African Americans are disproportionately affected by diabetes:

  • 2% of all African Americans aged 20 years or older have diagnosed diabetes.
  • African Americans are 1.7 times more likely to have diabetes as non Hispanic whites.

Diabetes is associated with an increased risk for a number of serious, sometimes life-threatening complications, and certain populations experience an even greater threat. Good diabetes management can help reduce your risk; however, many people are not even aware that they have diabetes until they develop one of its complications.

African-Americans are also significantly more likely to suffer from blindness, kidney disease and amputations.

 

How common is diabetes?

As of 2014, 29.1 million people in the United States, or 9.3 percent of the population, had diabetes. Tragically, more than 1 in 4 of them didn’t know they had the disease.

Diabetes affects 1 in 4 people over the age of 65. About 95 percent of cases in adults are type 2 diabetes.1

The rates of diagnosed diabetes by race/ethnic background are:

In 2012, 29.1 million Americans, or 9.3% of the population, had diabetes.

Approximately 1.25 million American children and adults have type 1 diabetes

Of the 29.1 million, 21.0 million were diagnosed, and 8.1 million were undiagnosed.

Also, the percentage of Americans age 65 and older remains high, at 25.9%, or 11.8 million seniors (diagnosed and undiagnosed), according to American Diabetes Association (ADA).

Deaths

Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States in 2010 based on the 69,071 death certificates in which diabetes was listed as the underlying cause of death.

Also, it was mentioned as a cause of death in a total of 234,051 certificates.

Diabetes may be under reported as a cause of death. Studies have found that only about 35% to 40% of people with diabetes who died had diabetes listed anywhere on the death certificate and about 10% to 15% had it listed as the underlying cause of death.

To help tackle this global public health crisis, the American Diabetes Association drives discovery in research to treat, manage and prevent all types of diabetes, as well as to search for cures; raises voice to the urgency of the diabetes epidemic; and provides support and advocacy for people living with diabetes.

What are the different types of diabetes?

The most common types of diabetes are type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.

* Type 1 diabetes

With type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin. Your immune system attacks and destroys the cells in your pancreas that make insulin.

Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, although it can appear at any age. People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin every day to stay alive.

* Type 2 diabetes

With type 2 diabetes, your body does not make or use insulin well.

You can develop type 2 diabetes at any age, even during childhood. However, this type of diabetes occurs most often in middle-aged and older people. Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes.

* Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes develops in some women when they are pregnant. Most of the time, this type of diabetes goes away after the baby is born. However, if you’ve had gestational diabetes, you have a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Sometimes diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy is actually type 2 diabetes.

Other types of diabetes

Less common types include monogenic diabetes, which is an inherited form of diabetes, and cystic fibrosis-related diabetes .

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

Symptoms of diabetes include

  • increased thirst and urination
  • increased hunger
  • fatigue
  • blurred vision
  • numbness or tingling in the feet or hands
  • sores that do not heal
  • unexplained weight loss

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes can start quickly, in a matter of weeks.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes often develop slowly—over the course of several years—and can be so mild that you might not even notice them. Many people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms. Some people do not find out they have the disease until they have diabetes-related health problems, such as blurred vision or heart trouble.

Who is more likely to develop type 2 diabetes?

A person is more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you are age 45 or older, have a family history of diabetes, or are overweight. Physical inactivity, race, and certain health problems such as high blood pressure also affect your chance of developing type 2 diabetes. You are also more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you have prediabetes or had gestational diabetes when you were pregnant.

Genes and family history

Having a family history of diabetes makes it more likely that a woman will develop gestational diabetes, which suggests that genes play a role. Genes may also explain why the disorder occurs more often in African Americans, American Indians, Asians, and Hispanics/Latinas.

Diabetes in Youth

  • About 208,000 Americans under age 20 are estimated to have diagnosed diabetes, approximately 0.25% of that population, according to ADA figures.
  • In 2008—2009, the annual incidence of diagnosed diabetes in youth was estimated at 18,436 with type 1 diabetes, 5,089 with type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes in Men

Historically, men have not been comfortable discussing issues about their health, particularly conditions like diabetes, depression or sexual dysfunction. This has resulted in shorter and less healthy lives for men in the United States compared to women.

 

Diabetes in Women

Diabetes can be especially hard on women. The burden of diabetes on women is unique because the disease can affect both mothers and their unborn children.

Diabetes can cause difficulties during pregnancy such as a miscarriage or a baby born with birth defects. Women with diabetes are also more likely to have a heart attack, and at a younger age, than women without diabetes.

One in three women will die of heart disease compared to one in nine women dying of breast cancer.

 

What health problems can people with diabetes develop?

Over time, high blood glucose leads to problems such as

  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • kidney disease
  • eye problems
  • dental disease
  • nerve damage
  • foot problems

Manage your diabetes ABCs

Knowing your diabetes ABCs will help you manage your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Stopping smoking if you smoke will also help you manage your diabetes. Working toward your ABC goals can help lower your chances of having a heart attack, stroke, or other diabetes problems.

A for the A1C test

The A1C test shows your average blood glucose level over the past 3 months.

The A1C goal for many people with diabetes is below 7 percent. Ask your health care team what your goal should be.

B for Blood pressure

The blood pressure goal for most people with diabetes is below 140/90 mm Hg.

Ask what your goal should be.

C for Cholesterol

You have two kinds of cholesterol in your blood: LDL and HDL. LDL or “bad” cholesterol can build up and clog your blood vessels.

Too much bad cholesterol can cause a heart attack or stroke. HDL or “good” cholesterol helps remove the “bad” cholesterol from your blood vessels.

Ask your health care team what your cholesterol numbers should be.

If you are over 40 years of age, you may need to take a statin drug for heart health.

S for Stop smoking

Not smoking is especially important for people with diabetes because both smoking and diabetes narrow blood vessels. Blood vessel narrowing makes your heart work harder. E-cigarettes aren’t a safe option either.

If you quit smoking

  • you will lower your risk for heart attack, stroke, nerve disease, kidney disease, diabetic eye disease, and amputation
  • your cholesterol and blood pressure levels may improve
  • your blood circulation will improve
  • you may have an easier time being physically active

If you smoke or use other tobacco products, stop. Ask for help so you don’t have to do it alone. You can start by calling the national quitline at 1-800-QUITNOW or 1-800-784-8669. For tips on quitting, go to SmokeFree.gov .

Keeping your A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels close to your goals and stopping smoking may help prevent the long-term harmful effects of diabetes. These health problems include heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, nerve damage, and eye disease. You can keep track of your ABCs with a diabetes care record.

Take it with you on your health care visits. Talk about your goals and how you are doing, and whether you need to make any changes in your diabetes care plan.

Follow your diabetes meal plan

Make a diabetes meal plan with help from your health care team. Following a meal plan will help you manage your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol.

Choose fruits and vegetables, beans, whole grains, chicken or turkey without the skin, fish, lean meats, and nonfat or low-fat milk and cheese. Drink water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages. Choose foods that are lower in calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, and salt. Learn more about eating, diet, and nutrition with diabetes.

Make physical activity part of your daily routine

Set a goal to be more physically active. Try to work up to 30 minutes or more of physical activity on most days of the week.

Brisk walking and swimming are good ways to move more. If you are not active now, ask your health care team about the types and amounts of physical activity that are right for you.

Although diabetes has no cure, you can take steps to manage your diabetes and stay healthy.

Two Ways You Can Help The Cause

* Volunteer

The American Diabetes Association needs many volunteers to donate skills and time to help create a world free from diabetes and its burdens. Volunteers are the backbone of events and local offices. Find out volunteer opportunities by searching for your local office on the Diabetes.org volunteer page.

* Make a Donation

By making a donation you are directly impacting the 30 million people living with diabetes.

Your donation funds advocacy efforts, education and health and wellness programs.

By: Darwin Campbell

 

 

 

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