09 Dec Diabetes is a preventable disease
November was diabetes awareness month – why you should care?
- In 2015, diabetes mellitus was the 7th leading cause of death in the US. In addition, it is a contributory cause of death in other cases.
- Diabetes is the major cause of blindness in adults (diabetic retinopathy)
- Diabetes is the leading contributor to end-stage kidney disease
- Diabetes is the leading cause of non-traumatic lower limb amputation
- The risk of Coronary Heart Disease is 2-4 x greater in people with diabetes
- Diabetes can increase the risk of developing both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia
The Centres for Disease Control in the US report that just over ¼ of Americans over the age of 65 are diabetic. Equally concerning; ½ of Americans over the age of 65 have pre-diabetes (blood sugar levels that are too high, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes). Most of these people will go on to develop full-blown diabetes.
Anyone can develop diabetes, but most at risk are those:
- Having a family history of type 2 diabetes in a first degree relative (parent or sibling)
- Carrying too much weight
Diabetes is, for the most part, a preventable disease. The Diabetes Prevention Program Study, which included more than 3000 pre-diabetic subjects, demonstrated that the risk of developing diabetes could be halved if:
- They followed counselling on healthy food intake
- They engaged in regular physical activity
The clinical manifestations of diabetes include:
Extreme thirst (or excessive drinking), excessive urination, increased appetite (and eating) but loss of weight, blurred vision, yeast infections and abnormal sensations of skin (tingling, burning, numbness) in the feet and lower legs.
However, many people do not experience symptoms. Also – these symptoms only show about 10 years after the disease begins. Ten years of damage to blood vessels – blood vessels in the heart, the eyes, the kidneys, the brain… so do not wait to “feel” the symptoms of diabetes:
- Come to the clinic – ideally, in the morning, before you have anything to eat and drink. A simple “finger-prick” test will give an indication if your blood glucose level is too high.
- Speak to your GP at your 6-monthly visit about testing.
Sr Erika Janutsch: Nursing manager at The Somerset Lifestyle and Retirement Village
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