Tracy Hansen, APRN, FNP
November is American Diabetes Month, so let’s talk about this exceedingly common disease. There are literally millions of Americans diagnosed with diabetes; according to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 20.3 million Americans are affected, and this number is expected to grow as 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed each year.
Let’s start with the basics; So, what is diabetes?
Diabetes is a general term which means your body lacks a certain hormone, called insulin, which helps to get the food you eat from your blood into your cells. There are two types of diabetes, which are fittingly termed type 1 and type 2.
- Type 1 is generally thought of as a disease that is diagnosed in the young. Additionally, with type 1, your body makes absolutely no insulin, so insulin needs to be started right away.
- Type 2 diabetes is much more common and diagnosed in adults (but becoming more prevalent in youth). With type 2 diabetes there is a lack of the body’s ability to make insulin or the body simply stops responding to the insulin released by the body.
Type 2 Diabetes
Since type 2 diabetes is much more common and progression can be affected by lifestyle choices, we will make this the focus of the remainder of our discussion. We already established that with type 2 diabetes the body is stubborn in regards to moving food into cells.
1. What are the risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes?
There are a few things that can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. They include:
- Being overweight: Fat cells are especially stubborn and not responsive to the insulin your body makes.
- Certain ethnicities: African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans/Pacific islanders are at increased risk. These groups tend to develop type 2 diabetes more easily than other groups. There is not anything that can be done about this except heightened awareness.
- Aging: Again, not much we can do about getting older, except be thankful and more aware.
- Diabetes in pregnancy: If you were diagnosed with diabetes in pregnancy, you are at increased risk of developing diabetes later in life.
2. How is type 2 diabetes diagnosed?
Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed through a blood test in the office. Those at risk of type 2 diabetes should be tested at least every few years. Most people will not have symptoms. However, some may experience feelings of thirst, hunger, feeling hot, and increased urination.
3. How is type 2 diabetes managed?
Type 2 diabetes can be managed through lifestyle modifications in addition to medications. Lifestyle modifications include healthy eating, exercise, and weight loss if overweight. If lifestyle modifications are not enough to manage diabetes, then medications are added.
If you are affected by diabetes, you are not alone. There are many that share your struggle. Here at Murray County Medical Center, we want to support you and your journey through diabetes, and the road to better health!
How can MCMC help you with your diabetes?
Through our American Diabetes Association Recognized Program, MCMC offers self-management education to promote the best in diabetes prevention and care in Murray County. We are here to counsel, guide and support you in this life adjustment and get you back on track to living well with diabetes.