According to the American Diabetes Association, there are nearly 26 million adults and children with diabetes in the United States. Another 79 million have a condition known as prediabetes, which puts them at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.
Research has shown that early detection and treatment of diabetes can decrease the risk of complications, such as heart disease, stroke, eye disease, kidney disease and nerve damage. People at higher risk for developing diabetes include African-Americans, Hispanic Americans and those who are overweight, obese or have a family history of diabetes.
During the month of November, which is American Diabetes Month, Central Baptist Hospital Outpatient Diabetes Education employees are staffing a hotline — (859) 260-5282 — where you can call and ask questions about diabetes. The diabetes educators can help with information about what to eat when you have diabetes, medications used to treat diabetes, how to check your blood sugar and exercise ideas to help those with diabetes to stay healthy.
Symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst, increased urination, unusual weight changes, blurred vision, poor healing of wounds and recurrent infections. Symptoms of diabetes may be very subtle or not be present at all. The American Diabetes Association offers a free on-line risk test on their Web site, Diabetes.org.
However, the best way to know if you have diabetes is to get a screening glucose blood test from your physician.
The American Diabetes Association encourages screening after the age of 45, and if tests are normal, the screening could be repeated at three-year intervals. However, if you are overweight, obese, or have any significant risk factors for diabetes (family history, history of gestational diabetes, and others), screening should be considered in adults of any age.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes in the United States and can be treated with one of more of the following: a prescribed nutrition plan, oral medications, injectable medications, insulin treatment, and a physical activity plan. While diabetes is very common, each medical treatment plan should be individualized to the person's own health needs. It is important to seek proper medical advice if you have diabetes, rather than relying on advice from friends or family.
Education on diabetes can help you put all the pieces together to implement a successful treatment plan. It will take some work, but information and support is available and will help you stay on your plan.
Kathleen Stanley is Coordinator for Baptist Diabetes, Health and Nutrition Services at Central Baptist Hospital.