Do you feel hungry, thirsty, or tired all the time? Do you go to the bathroom often? Do you have blurred vision or tingling or numbness in your hands or feet? If you experience any of these symptoms, ask your doctor to be screened for diabetes.
Diabetes can occur at any age. Current figures show that the number of adults in the United States with diabetes is on the rise and almost one-quarter of them may have the disease without knowing it, according to the American Diabetes Association.
One reason diabetes has become so prevalent is that the typical American diet is high in fat and low in carbohydrates. When combined with lack of exercise, these habits become strong risk factors that cause many adults to develop Type 2 diabetes.
While it may start out simply as too much sugar, there are serious consequences of raised blood glucose, especially when accompanied by other issues such as high blood pressure and cholesterol. Diabetes is also a risk factor for other conditions such as cardiac disease and stroke.
People with diabetes have high levels of glucose, or sugar, in their blood because their bodies have issues using or producing insulin. High levels of glucose are toxic to blood vessels and can damage them over time. Damaged large blood vessels can lead to heart attack and stroke, and damaged small blood vessels can lead to blindness, kidney failure, and loss of feeling in hands and feet, which eventually can cause nonhealing wounds that could require amputation. The good news is most — if not all — of the problems associated with diabetes can be avoided if you work with your doctor to control your condition.
“We encourage people to reduce their risk of developing diabetes by adopting a healthy lifestyle including nutritious eating and increasing physical activity,” says Amber Hyde, MD, an independently practicing primary care physician on the medical staff at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center. “And if you have diabetes, controlling your blood glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol, and diet will prevent or delay complications of the disease.”
Family history is a risk factor for developing diabetes. While you cannot change your family history, you can be aware of it and work to reduce your risk. Women who develop diabetes during pregnancy are also at higher risk for developing diabetes later in life.
So what can you do to reduce your risk? Weight is the biggest risk factor you can control. Simply put, Dr. Hyde says if you are overweight, you should lose weight. And if you are at a healthy weight, maintain it. A nutritious diet and regular exercise will help reduce your risk of diabetes.And if you smoke, quitting may lower your chance for getting diabetes later in life.
If you think you are at risk, take the first step and see your doctor for a fasting blood glucose test. Living with diabetes isn’t easy, but with treatment and lifestyle changes, you can feel better and get your blood glucose levels back to a healthier range.
A free new diabetes education group that helps patients learn about managing the disease is now offered at Methodist Mansfield. Classes are held the second Thursday of the month from 7 to 8 p.m. in Conference Room C. You can learn more about the diabetes program by calling 817-704-7781 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.MethodistHealthSystem.org/Diabetes to learn more about diabetes and take the American Diabetes Association’s diabetes risk assessment.
Managing diabetes is a lifelong commitment. But if you embrace the challenge, you’ll not only feel better and have more energy, you’ll make an important investment in your health.
Texas law prohibits hospitals from practicing medicine. The physicians on the Methodist Health System medical staff are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of Methodist Health System or Methodist Mansfield Medical Center.