More than 22,000 adults in Thurston County are living with diabetes.
Though there are different kinds of diabetes, type 2 is the most common. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 1 out of 3 American adults have prediabetes. For those 84 million Americans, “without intervention, many people with prediabetes could develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years.”
For some, this chronic disease can be prevented by understanding what changes to make in daily living behaviors, and by understanding the symptoms.
Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which sugar (glucose) builds up in a person’s blood. In a healthy body, insulin (a hormone) helps move glucose from your blood into your cells where your body can use it for energy. When someone has diabetes, they can’t use insulin effectively, so your body relies on other energy sources in your tissue, muscle or organs.
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The symptoms of diabetes vary, and get more severe, particularly if the disease isn’t managed. There are also a wide variety of long-term complications caused by uncontrolled diabetes -- including heart disease, kidney disease, nerve problems and, in extreme cases, amputation or death -- so it's important to know if you are diabetic.
So how do you know if you’re at risk to get type 2 diabetes? According to the American Diabetes Association there are risk factors that can determine how likely it is for a person to develop type 2 diabetes. Some of those risk factors aren’t in our control, such as:
Age (higher risk over 45);
Gender (in many parts of the world, men have higher rates than women);
Family history (genetics);
Race/ethnicity (African-American, Latino, Asian-American and Native American people are at higher risk than Caucasian people);
Having a baby weighing 9 pounds or more;
History of gestational diabetes during pregnancy;
History of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
However, some risk factors are in our control, and can be managed:
High blood pressure;
Using (or being exposed to) tobacco, or tobacco smoke;
Weight gain, especially in the abdominal area;
Being overweight or obese;
Low HDL cholesterol;
Sedentary lifestyle, or not enough physical activity.
You can find out more about your risk factors through www.diabetes.org.
Symptoms of diabetes include:
- Frequent urination;
- Tingling or pain/numbness in your hands or feet;
- Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal;
- Blurry vision;
- Extreme fatigue.
- Feeling very thirsty or very hungry (even though you’re eating).
If you have risk factors for diabetes and develop symptoms, then it’s time to give your doctor a call and get tested. Whatever your diabetes status, it’s never too early to make important changes to your diet and exercise habits.
Eat more fruits and vegetables.
Be cautious about portion sizes. It’s not just what you eat — it’s also how much.
Eat foods that are heart healthy -- high in omega 3 fatty acids (salmon, mackerel and herring), monounsaturated fat (olive and canola oil) or polyunsaturated fats (certain fish, avocados, nuts and seeds).
Limit highly processed food and fast food.
Use low fat dairy products.
Eat more high fiber foods.
Get 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every day. If you are already overweight, or haven’t exercised in a while, start small. Work movement into your daily routine.
If you or someone you love is at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, take the time to learn more and begin making changes that can help you and your loved ones live healthy, long lives.