Taking Diabetes to Heart

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National Diabetes month

America, there’s a problem!

There’s a number one cause of disability and death in the United States: DIABETES. It’s a 1 in 10 American types of problem, and we’re taking it to heart. Thousands dedicate November to speaking about the impact that diabetes has on millions of Americans as it’s National Diabetes Month. We encourage you to join the commotion by raising awareness throughout the month by inspiring others with education and giving back. 

Diabetes mellitus, or diabetes is often associated with the heart, but many do not know why. The body breaks down food, specifically the carbs, into blood sugar, which put is used for energy. Insulin is a hormone that helps transport those blood sugars from the blood-stream into cells of the body. When an individual has high levels sugar in their blood, it will cause damage to blood vessels and nerves that control the heart. The longer these are damaged, the higher the risk for diseases to develop in the center. 

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIH), “adults with diabetes are nearly twice as likely to die from heart disease or stroke as people without diabetes.” Diabetes causes nerve damage, kidney disease, blindness, and many other health problems. 

LET’S CHAT ABOUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF DIABETES: 

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Prediabetes
  • Ketoacidosis 
  • Gestational diabetes

TYPE 1 DIABETES DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE:

Type 1 diabetes recognizes people who do not make insulin and deal with daily challenges. More often than not, an individual with this disease will need a pump. However, insulin therapy and other treatments are offered for individuals with Type 1 diabetes to enjoy a long, healthy life. 

Low blood sugar, hypoglycemia occurs when people take too much medication, skip meals, exercise more than usual or eat less than normal. The medication is used to balance out insulin levels within the body. Individuals may come off as “hangry” or even faint from levels of low blood sugar.

 What are the diabetes symptoms of Type 1? 

  • Blurred vision
  • Irritability
  • Bed-wetting in children (who previously have not)
  • Increased thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Feeling weak or exhausted 
  • Unintended weight loss 
  • Frequent urination 

Type 2 Diabetes occurs most often due to the over-consumption of sugary foods. 

The most common type of diabetes is Type 2, which occurs when blood sugar is too high. The body may not make enough insulin or utilize it as it should. When there’s an issue with insulin, blood sugar will hang out in the blood, and there’s not enough that makes it reach cells.

What’s the cause of Type 2 diabetes? 

Being overweight, being physically inactive, having an insulin resistance problem, and genetic make-up are a few factors that may cause Type 2 diabetes. Individuals 45 years or older, have a family history or are or of a non-white race, are more likely to have Type 2 diabetes. 

Learn more about the causes of Type 2 diabetes. 

What are the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes?  

  • Increase thirst or urination
  • Hungry more frequently
  • Fatigued more frequently
  • Blurry vision
  • Diabetic feet may be blue
  • Tingling in hands or feet; possibly numbness
  • Weight loss that occurs without explanation
  • Sores that may not heal as quickly as they should

People who are at high risk for type 2 diabetes can lower their risk by making changes. It’s essential to practice a healthy lifestyle by exercising, practicing stress relaxation techniques, and choosing foods without high amounts of sugars. A plant-based diet has shown to be beneficial for people who are managing Type 2 diabetes. 

Ketoacidosis

You may be familiar with the “keto diet”. This diet works because sometimes the body breaks down fat faster than it should in people who are diabetic which is known as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). This life threating problem starts with the liver as it processes fat into a fuel known as ketones. When there are too many ketones in the body, the blood becomes far too acid and can be extremely dangerous (no matter how beneficial it may seem). 

Pre-diabetes means you may be on the verge of Type 2 diabetes. 

When blood pressure is higher than average, but not at the tipping point of Type 2 diabetes, it’s called pre-diabetes. People who do not manage their pre-diabetes are at grave risk for Type 2 diabetes. 

It’s essential to focus on eating healthy, exercising, and speaking to your practitioner if concerned. The symptoms for pre-diabetes are very similar to the ones of Type-2 diabetes, including increased thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, and blurred vision. 

Gestational diabetes happens with or without warning during pregnancy.  

Pregnant women may develop gestational diabetes without warning or previous history. Like other types of diabetes, it affects how your cells utilize blood sugar (only this time, it affects your pregnancy and the baby). Typically, blood sugar will go back to normal after the baby is born. Gestational diabetes symptoms are concerning, but it’s manageable by eating healthy foods, exercising, and following your practitioner’s orders carefully. 

During your check-up, the practitioner will evaluate to see if you are at risk for gestational diabetes and make a plan from there. You may need to schedule check-ups more often for your prenatal care during the last three months of pregnancy. It’s essential to manage your blood sugar levels during and after your pregnancy to maintain a healthy life for you and your family.  

What complications may occur with the baby?

  • excessive birth weight
  • delivered pre-term or with respiratory distress syndrome
  • born with low blood sugar
  • Experience it later in their life 

What complications may occur with mom?

  • Risk of diabetes in the future
  • High blood pressure
  • Pre-eclampsia – life-threatening condition that occurs due to high blood pressure

The cause of gestational diabetes is not entirely known. However, women who are greater than 25 have a family health history, non-white race, and are over-weight have a higher chance of developing gestational diabetes. 

Find out more about gestational diabetes!

How can American Diabetes Month make a difference? 

  • Make small changes in your daily life like taking the stairs or working out an extra 15-30 minutes daily
  • Know your levels. After fasting for 8 hours, a normal blood sugar level should be less than 100 mg/dL. After 2 hours of eating, your levels should be 140 mg/dL: Normal blood sugar levels are less than 100 mg/dL after fasting for 8 hours.Ask yourself: Are you at risk?
  • Become a regular at your doctor’s office for routine check-ups. Ask if your physician if you have not checked your cholesterol in awhile or if you think you may be at risk. 
  • Engage in community events to learn more about healthy living and getting physical exercise. 
  • Continue glucose monitoring with your doctor’s supervision 
  • Know your numbers, especially your a1c which the a1c levels can help you termermine your blood sugar levels and if you are on the right path
  • Community Care, Diabetes Support Group, St. David’s Medical Center, and Sun city Diabetes Group are local support groups! 
  • Join the American Diabetes Association (ADA) with the hashtag “#CountMeInADA” to raise your voice, make your fist, and share your image on social media.