It’s that time of year again. The holidays are upon us in all their cozy glory. Scents of all the delicious fixings, desserts and familiar sights and sounds surround us. As generosity, appreciation and love sweep in, let’s take these emotions and carry them over to all areas of our lives, including our health. Say thanks for the gift of good health this November, National Diabetes Awareness Month, and join Meritus Health in our mission to improve the health of the community by downsizing diabetes.
Diabetes is a serious disease and is not selective. ANYONE can be at risk for diabetes. It causes your blood glucose levels to shoot way above normal and wreaks havoc with your health. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should. Once sugar levels build up in your blood, it can lead to heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, and loss of feet or legs.
According to the American Diabetes Association, there are more than 37.3 million adults and children living with diabetes. Of those, 28.7 million are diagnosed while 8.5 million are undiagnosed.
Diabetes can sneak up on you.
Type 2 diabetes develops over time. Dr. Milay Luis Lam, of Meritus Endocrinology Specialists, says, “Blood sugars increase slowly and gradually. You typically don’t wake up one day with a blood sugar level of 300.”
Diabetes is the silent killer. People with type 2 diabetes often have no symptoms at first. “Symptoms can be mild or absent initially,” says Lam. “Later, as the blood sugar approaches 250-300 Mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter), a person may experience fatigue, weight loss, excessive thirst, constant hunger and frequent urination.”
According to Lam, a person can have type 2 diabetes for years without knowing it. You should pay close attention to red flags such as increased urination, increased thirst, blurry vision, slow healing sores or frequent infections and contact your PCP for guidance if you are experiencing these symptoms. They may recommend options to reduce your risk of diabetes. “We do not want to wait until the diagnosis of Type 2 is being made, but when the patient has prediabetes so we can work with them to prevent it. If it’s already diagnosed, we can also work with the patient to achieve remission” says Lam.
Not sure if you are at risk? This November, downsize diabetes in your life by taking the Diabetes Risk assessment at MeritusHealth.com/DPP and sign up for one of our CDC top ranked Prevent T2 Diabetes classes. Classes are available both virtually and in-person.
The program focuses on what participants can change to help decrease the chances of developing type 2 diabetes. There are risk factors that can’t be controlled – including family history, ethnicity and age. However, lifestyle changes that lower blood pressure and reaching a healthier weight can reduce a patient’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
“We’ve found that active participants in the program work toward the goal of losing 5-7% of their body weight, and getting 150 minutes of moderate activity each week,” said Norma Patterson, diabetes prevention coordinator.
“More than half of the residents in Washington County are considered unhealthy, according to the Community Health Needs Assessment, and type 2 diabetes and an inactive lifestyle contribute heavily to that,” Patterson said. “Our Prevent T2 program is solely focused on changing those statistics,” she added.
Past class participant Cristian Castillo Rangel lost 40 pounds through the program.
“I gained new love for fitness and health,” he said. “My relationship with food has been much better than before, and for once, I am content with who I see in the mirror,” he added.
Learn more about reducing your risk for diabetes at MeritusHealth.com/DPP.