Over 29 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with diabetes. This common disease can lead to serious and life-threatening complications if blood glucose is not controlled.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is the condition in which the body does not properly process food for use as energy. When you eat, your body turns foods into sugars or glucose. At that point, your pancreas is supposed to release insulin.
Insulin serves to open your cells to allow the glucose to enter, which provides us energy. However, with diabetes, this system does not work properly.
What are the three main types of diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes, previously referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) or juvenile-onset diabetes, accounts for 5-10 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. It develops in children and teenagers, although it can develop at any age. Individuals with type 1 diabetes do not make their own insulin and have to take insulin injections to live.
Type 2 diabetes, previously called non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) or adult-onset diabetes, accounts for 90-95 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. This type of diabetes usually develops after age 45; however, there are a growing number of younger people that are now developing type 2 diabetes. Individuals with type 2 diabetes are able to produce some insulin on their own but it usually is not enough or it does not work properly. Type 2 is often linked to people who are overweight and maintain a sedentary lifestyle.
Gestational diabetes develops in 2-5 percent of all pregnancies and like other types of diabetes, affects how your cells use sugar. Gestational diabetes causes high blood sugar and can affect both your pregnancy and your baby’s health. Expecting mothers can help control gestational diabetes by eating smaller, more frequent healthy meals, exercising and, if necessary, taking medication.
What are the signs of diabetes?
People who believe they may have diabetes must visit a doctor for diagnosis. They could experience some or none of the following symptoms:
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Unexplained weight loss
- Extreme hunger
- Vision changes
- Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
- Very dry skin
- Sores that are slow to heal
- More infections than usual
Nausea, vomiting or stomach pains may accompany some of these symptoms in type 1 diabetes.
Is diabetes preventable?
Unfortunately, type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented. However, the following are some healthy lifestyle choices that can help prevent Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
- Eat healthy foods: Choose foods that are lower in fat and calories and higher in fiber. Focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Get more physical activity: Set a goal of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day. Take a brisk daily walk. Ride your bike. Swim laps. If you can’t fit a long workout into your day, break it up into smaller sessions spread throughout your day.
- Lose excess pounds: If you are overweight, even losing 7 percent of your total weight can make a difference in reducing your risk for diabetes. A healthy weight range can be obtained when focusing on making permanent changes to your eating and exercise habits.
What resources or educational programs are available locally?
- The Indiana University Health Physicians Diabetes Center located at the IU Health Ball Memorial Jackson Street Center offers individual instruction, dietary instruction, and a diabetes education series for adults with type 2 diabetes. Classes are offered in the mornings and evenings; each class is 2-2 ½ hours long over three consecutive weeks. All morning classes are held on Mondays at 9:30 am and all evening classes are held on Tuesdays at 5 pm. Diabetes Prevention Classes are offered once a month lasting about 1 ½ - 2 hours in length. The education has been recognized by the American Diabetes Association for quality self-management.
- A doctor’s referral and advance registration is required for all education services at the IU Health Physicians Diabetes Center. To register, call 1.866.888.3468.
- In addition, the Diabetes Support Group of Delaware County meets the last Thursday of each month located at 2901 W. Jackson St at 7 pm. Topics include meal planning, medications, exercise, and lifestyle concerns. Advance registration is not required for the support group.
Ilona Lambert, BSN, RN, CDE, is a certified diabetes educator at IU Health Physicians Diabetes Center at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital. For more information about diabetes, call 765.747.3101.