What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin (insulin resistance). Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. The cause of diabetes continues to be a mystery, although both genetics and environmental factors appear to play roles.
Types of Diabetes
Prediabetes – A condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes – is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 – Also called Juvenile Diabetes, generally develops in children and young people under the age of 30. A person with type 1 diabetes does not produce any insulin and needs insulin injections to control blood glucose levels. For additional information click here.
Type 2 – Generally occurs after the age of 30; now increasingly seen among youth and young adults. Over-weight/obesity is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes, and it is mainly controlled with diet, exercise and medication.
Gestational – Occurs in some pregnant women who never had diabetes before but experience high glucose levels during pregnancy. Although gestational diabetes goes away after the baby is born, a women who has had it is more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.
Diabetes Risk Factors
Diabetes is a growing concern in North Carolina, the nation and the world. There are both modifiable and inherent risks for developing type 2 diabetes. Some risk factors are shown below.
You are at increased risk to develop diabetes if you:
Are over the age of 45. According to the National Institute of Health everyone over 45 should have a blood sugar (glucose) test at least every 3 years. Regular testing of blood sugar should begin at a younger age and be performed more often if you are at higher risk for diabetes.
Have pre-diabetes. If your blood sugar already runs a little high but not high enough to be labeled diabetes, you may have pre-diabetes, also referred to as impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose. Your health provider can test you to determine if you have this condition, and you can modify your behavior to go back to a normal blood sugar. Progression to diabetes from pre-diabetes is not inevitable.
Have a family history of diabetes. If your mother, father, sister or brother has diabetes, you are at increased risk.
Are overweight. People who carry their extra weight around the waist are at a higher risk than people who carry extra weight around the hips.
Gave birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds, then you are at increased risk.
Had gestational diabetes. If you had diabetes during one or more of your pregnancies, then you are at increased risk.
If your mother had gestational diabetes, you are at increased risk.
Are a minority. People who are of African, Asian, Native American and Latino descent are at increased risk.
Have risk factors for heart disease. You are at increased risk of diabetes if your HDL cholesterol is under 35 mg/dL and your triglycerides are 250 mg/dL or more, and if your average blood pressure is greater than or equal to 140/90 mmHg.
Don’t get much exercise. You are at increased risk of developing diabetes if you are exercising less than 3 times a week.
Visit: www.idf.org/worlddiabetesday/bluecircletest to assess your risk of developing diabetes.
If you are at risk for developing diabetes, try these helpful tips.
To find out if you are at risk, take the Diabetes Risk Assessment.
If you have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, find a lifestyle program to prevent diabetes.
Check here for those recognized by CDC.
Be Aware of Diabetes Symptoms
Increased thirst, exhaustion, blurry vision and slow-healing wounds are all indications.
Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables at every meal and for every snack.
Eat smaller portions of foods and drinks at a leisurely pace to fill you up, not out. A good tip is to drink water 10 minutes before every meal to allow you to become full faster.
Increase Fiber and Whole Grain Intake and Avoid White Bread/Rice
You’ll find lots of fiber in tasty whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
Be More Physically Active
Physical exercise is essential.
Get at least 30 minutes every day to decrease your chance of developing diabetes.
Drink More Water
Sodas, sweet tea and other sugary drinks taste great but have a lot of calories and no nutrients.
Schedule Routine Medical Exams
Have medical providers check for vision conditions and measure glucose levels.
Eliminate all tobacco use, and avoid secondhand smoke.
Are you at risk for type 2 diabetes? Take the American Diabetes Association’s test by clicking here: Diabetes Risk Assessment
CDC releases the National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2014
Learn more about Type 1 diabetes
Talk about your diabetes
Diabetes Education Recognition Programs (local)