Prediabetes doesn’t have to become Type 2 Diabetes
The combination of genetics, being overweight, unhealthy eating and a sedentary lifestyle is creating what many doctors are describing as an epidemic of diabetes in this country. If the word ‘epidemic’ seems like an exaggeration, consider these recent statistics from the American Diabetes Association:
- In 2015, 30.3 million Americans had diabetes (up from 25.8 million in 2010).
- Of that group, 7.2 million have undiagnosed diabetes.
- Seniors over 65 are hit particularly hard with 11.8 million (25.9 percent) of people 65 or older having diabetes.
- Every year, 1.5 million Americans are newly diagnosed with diabetes.
- More cases are expected in the future because 84 million Americans age 20 or over have diabetes, which is about one-third of the population.
- In 2015, 84 million Americans over the age of 18 have prediabetes
- Without intervention, 15 to 30 percent of people with prediabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes within five years.
“Both diabetes and prediabetes are exploding in this country,” said Debbie Allietta, RN, a certified diabetes educator for the Visiting Nurse Association of Cape Cod. “We want to identify people that have pre-diabetes to provide education about lifestyle changes to hopefully delay or prevent the development of Type 2 diabetes.”
Type 2 diabetes is a carbohydrate metabolism disorder. When carbohydrate foods are eaten, they turn into glucose to provide the cells of the body with energy. The hormone insulin, secreted by the pancreas acts as a transporter to get glucose into the cells.
People with diabetes have decreased insulin production as well as a condition called insulin resistance. This means the cells of the body cannot use the insulin effectively, which results in high blood glucose levels.
Dangers of Diabetes
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list the following complications from unmanaged diabetes:
- High blood pressure
- High LDL cholesterol
- Increased risk of heart attack and stroke
- Blindness and eye problems
- Kidney disease
- Amputation of limbs
- Painful nerve disorders
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Erectile dysfunction
The symptoms of diabetes, according to Allietta, are:
- Increased urination as your kidneys work harder to rid the body of excess sugar
- Excessive thirst caused by increased urination
- Fatigue because the body isn’t getting the energy it needs
- Wounds or cuts that are slow to heal
- Blurred vision
- Numbness or tingling in the feet
“Many of these symptoms like increased urination or blurry vision are also symptoms of the aging process, so people don’t think about them,” she said. “There’s a huge amount of denial with diabetes because people don’t usually feel signs and symptoms early on, so they do not understand the importance of taking care of their diabetes to avoid long-term complications.”