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Diabetes a Silent Disease

November 23, 2016

There are several diseases that can attack the body for months before it gets to a point where the disease is finally noticed, and one of those silent attackers is diabetes. With November being National Diabetes Month, this is a perfect time to increase awareness of the disease as well as provide information to those who have diabetes on how to manage the disease and live longer, healthier lives with the disease.

According to a Center for Disease Control and Prevention survey, 9.5 percent of the population in Wilbarger County has been diagnosed with diabetes, making it one of the most chronic diseases attacking the area population.

Across the United States, 29.1 adults have diabetes, however 1 out of 4 of them don’t know they have it. Plus, studies indicate 1 out of 3 people will develop diabetes in their lifetime, and medical costs for people with diabetes are twice as high as for people without the disease.

Those numbers make helping people understand diabetes more important than ever.

DEFINING DIFFERENT TYPES OF DIABETES

Diabetes is a disease that affects a person’s ability to move blood sugar out of the blood and into the cells where it is used as the body’s primary source of fuel.

Type 1 diabetes (insulin dependent) usually emerges in childhood and accounts for just 5 percent of those who have diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system destroys the cells that release insulin, eventually eliminating insulin production from the body. Insulin is the hormone the body uses to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. Without insulin, cells cannot absorb sugar, which they need to produce energy.

Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented.

Of those who have diabetes – 9 out of 10 – have type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent), which can develope at any age, although it most commonly becomes apparent during adulthood. In type 2 diabetes, insulin is still produced, but the body isn’t able to use insulin the right way, which results in blood sugar levels rising above normal. As type 2 diabetes gets worse, the pancreas may start producing less and less insulin, resulting in insulin deficiency.

Type 2 diabetes may escape being noticed by those who have the disease because many of the symptoms seem vague and harmless. Those symptoms include: frequent urination, excessive thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, increased fatigue, irritability and blurry vision.

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:

-- Being overweight.

-- Being 45 years or older.

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

-- Being physically active less than 3 times a week.

-- Ever having gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds.

WAYS TO HELP PREVENT, MANAGE DIABETES

Eating healthier, maintaining a healthy weight and staying active are three things that will not only help prevent the onset of diabetes, but will also help manage the disease once it has been diagnosed.

While exercise is good for everyone, it is especially important to the almost 30 million Americans – nearly 10 percent of the population – with diabetes, and to the 86 million Americans who have prediabetes and are at risk for developing the disease.

The Diabetes Prevention Program, a federally funded study, showed people can delay and possibly prevent type 2 diabetes by losing a small amount (5 to 7 percent) of their total body weight. That is just 9 to 13 pounds for a 180-pound person.

A new word that has popped up in the medical community is “diabesity,” which encompasses the related conditions of obesity, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome. The rise in diagnoses of type 2 diabetes is assumed to be a result of the growing obesity epidemic. Obesity is a major risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes, and studies indicate more than 90 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese.

With that in mind, there is a new program, the Ideal Protein Protocol, that some health care providers are starting to implement. The Ideal Protein Protocol is a medically designed and developed protocol for weight loss and weight maintenance. A report shows the program attacks the overproduction of insulin that can result from a typical diet, which is one of the main causes of type 2 diabetes. One part of the protocol is reducing dietary carbohydrates, which helps keep insulin levels low.

Along with reducing your weight and waistline, exercise also helps control blood sugar and blood pressure. It can also help prevent heart and blood flow problems, reducing the risk of heart disease and nerve damage, which are often problems for people with diabetes.

Experts recommend exercising for at least 150 minutes a week, and to spread those minutes out over four or five days instead of just one or two days during the week.

Walking, swimming, bicycling and dancing are just some examples of physical activity that works your large muscles, increases your heart rate and makes you breathe harder – important goals for fitness.

In an effort to give residents a place to walk that is easy to access, economical, and convenient, Wilbarger General Hospital has a ¼ mile walking trail on the south side of the hospital campus that is easy to access and is open to the public. The trail includes seven exercise stations for those who may want to do some strength and other cardio exercises.

Whether it is walking or some other form of physical activity, experts suggest you should do something that you really enjoy.  In fact, studies have shown that the more fun you have, the more likely you are to exercise every day. It is recommended that anyone wishing to begin an exercise program check with their health care provider before they start the program. That is especially true for those who have already been diagnosed with diabetes, as their health care provider may wish to confirm that there are no special considerations that should be addressed prior to embarking on a regular fitness regimen.