Health and Mind: Have you been diagnosed with diabetes?

Published 1:30 pm Wednesday, September 20, 2023

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally attributed to Cara O’Neill. The Sun apologizes for and regrets this error.

By Amy Williams

Clark County Health Department

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There is no cure yet for diabetes, but a healthy lifestyle can reduce its impact and complications it can have on your life. What you do every day makes a difference: eating a healthy diet, being physically active, taking medicines if prescribed, and keeping health care appointments to stay on track.

The basics

More than 30 million people in the United States have diabetes, but one out of four don’t know they have it.

There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant, which can put the pregnancy and baby at risk and lead to type 2 diabetes later).

With type 1 diabetes, your body can’t make insulin (a hormone that acts as a key to letting blood sugar into cells for use as energy), so you need to take it every day. Type 1 diabetes is less common than type 2 diabetes; about 5% of the people who have diabetes have type 1. Currently, no one knows how to prevent type 1 diabetes.

Most people with diabetes—nine out of ten—have type 2 diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t use insulin well and cannot keep blood sugar at normal levels. If you have any of the risk factors below, ask your doctor if you should be tested for diabetes. The sooner you find out, the sooner you can start making healthy changes that will benefit you now and in the future.

Type 2 diabetes risk factors include:

• Having prediabetes (blood sugar levels higher than average but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes).

• Being overweight.

• Being 45 years or older.

• Having a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes.

• Being physically active less than three times a week.

• Ever having gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby who weighed more than nine pounds.

Race and ethnicity also matter: African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes.

You can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by losing a small amount of weight if you’re overweight and getting regular physical activity. A small amount of weight loss means around five % to seven % of your body weight, just 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person. Regular physical activity means getting at least 150 minutes a week of brisk walking or a similar activity. That’s just 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Small bouts of exercise of just 10 minutes significantly improve overall health. You do not have to exercise for 30 minutes all at once.

You’ve been diagnosed with diabetes. Now what?

It’s a balancing act—food, activity, medicine, and blood sugar levels—but you can do it. Meeting with a diabetes educator is a great way to get support and guidance, including how to:

• Follow a healthy eating plan.

• Get physically active.

• Test your blood sugar.

• Give yourself insulin by syringe, pen, or pump, if needed.

• Monitor your feet(, skin, and eyes( to catch problems early.

• Get diabetes supplies and store them according to package directions.

• Manage stress and deal with daily diabetes care.

Healthy Living with Diabetes Education Classes are offered at the Clark County Health Department, along with Diabetes Prevention Program Classes. Please call or email Amy Williams, MS, RD, LD, LDE, for enrollment at 859-744-4482, ext. 1028 or Information taken from the American Diabetes Association and CDC.