Did you know that diabetes has become an epidemic in the United States? The cost to the U.S. economy is $245 billion each year, as about 11% of all adults in the United States have diabetes.
Diabetes is the leading cause of death for individuals diagnosed with cardiovascular disease or kidney failure and dialysis. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness, neuropathy and lower limb amputations.
Diabetes is short for diabetes mellitus, and if untreated, the blood sugar can rise to dangerous levels. It’s a serious disease in which the body cannot use up the amount of sugar in the blood because it does not have enough of a hormone called insulin, which is used to process sugar.
Most of the food we eat turns into sugar that the body uses for energy. The pancreas produces insulin to take sugar from the blood to fuel cells in the body. If the body fails to produce enough insulin to handle the amount of sugar it will accumulate in the blood. If unmanaged, it will cause damage to the kidneys, eyes, heart, blood vessels and nervous system.
The two main types of diabetes are referred to as type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas makes very little insulin and the body is unable to process sugar. Type 2 diabetes is more common and individuals with this condition are more resistant to insulin and can worsen with obesity and lack of physical activity. As both types may be inherited, family history of diabetes can significantly increase the risk of developing the condition.
The best way to manage diabetes is to enroll in a program accredited through the American Association of Diabetes Educators that educates patients in diabetes self-management. Such programs are delivered by certified professionals who are skilled at empowering patients and their family members to manage the disease and prevent complications.
The diabetes program at UM Capital Region Health combines the expertise of registered dieticians, diabetes educators and registered nurses who help patients understand and control diabetes by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and taking medications properly. Key concepts of the program include blood glucose and insulin monitoring, nutrition counseling and meal planning, exercise routines and stress management counseling, behavior change strategies, managing acute and chronic complications and individual goal setting.
As part of regular health management, blood sugar levels should be monitored. Make sure your physician checks your levels at your next physical appointment.