One in ten Americans suffers from diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 34 million live with this chronic disease, making it one of the biggest health threats in the country right now. Moreover, one in ten people in the United States is considered to be prediabetic, putting them at higher risk to develop type 2 diabetes later in life. How do people live with diabetes?
Diabetes makes it harder for a person’s body to break down the sugar (or glucose) they eat into the energy cells need to function properly. As a consequence, a diabetic’s blood sugar values are higher than those of the average person.
Doctors distinguish between two types of diabetes. Diabetes type 1 often develops in children or young people and is mostly caused by genetic factors. Type 2 diabetes is found more frequently and is related to unhealthy, sedentary lifestyles.
Those suffering from prediabetes have blood sugar values above the normal threshold. However, their blood glucose levels have not yet reached levels to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is a chronic illness. Once type 2 diabetes has developed and been diagnosed, patients need to spend the rest of their lives dealing with it. Whilst a controlled diet and a healthy lifestyle, as well as insulin control blood sugar levels, there is no cure for diabetes.
The key to a long and healthy life with the illness is regular, strict control of blood sugar levels and diet. Many diabetics will measure their blood sugar before meals and take insulin as needed. If blood sugar levels drop quickly and unexpectedly, diabetics may need a sugary drink to avoid losing conscience. Whilst it is possible to live with the illness for decades, it certainly requires drastic lifestyle changes.
Even the most diligent diabetes patients are likely to develop complications from their illness. Complications usually develop over a number of years and can creep up on sufferers. They are often a result of badly controlled or undiagnosed diabetes. Patients may be unaware of developing complications before they manifest noticeably.
Uncontrolled blood glucose levels or elevated blood sugar can wreak havoc with the body of a sufferer, especially if levels remain high for a long time. Because the illness itself affects blood vessels, long-term complications can be found in almost any area of the body.
Diabetic complications are very common, especially after having diabetes for several years. The best protection against these side effects is a healthy, active lifestyle. Patients who manage to maintain that type of lifestyle can avoid complications often for decades.
Diabetes complications are often linked to one another. Developing one complication can increase a patient’s risk of developing others. They can also affect each other negatively.
Most people with diabetes type 2 also suffer from high blood pressure. In turn, high blood pressure is liked to unhealthy cholesterol levels and predisposes these patients for heart disease and stroke.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), diabetics are twice as likely to suffer heart complications or stroke than others.
Healthy feet may not be the first thing on anyone’s mind when it comes to serious complications of an illness. However, with diabetes, it is important to keep an eye on your feet.
Sustained high blood glucose levels damage the nerves in the extremities of our body. This condition is called diabetic neuropathy. Patients may lose their ability to detect touch or temperature changes. Because of this lack of sensation, small wounds or cuts often go unnoticed until they have developed into a bigger problem.
Combined with reduced blood circulation (another complication of diabetes), diabetic neuropathy causes wounds to heal very slowly. Patients have a high potential for infection. If the infection cannot be controlled quickly, amputation may be the consequence.
Diabetes is life-changing, but type 2 diabetes is avoidable by living a healthy, active lifestyle and detecting changes to acceptable blood glucose levels early. Prediabetes, the predecessor to type 2 diabetes can be controlled and – in some people – even reversed.
Early detection is neither hard nor time-consuming. Screening platforms like Diabetes Screening from TrueCare™ make it easy to integrate free assessments into the workday. They can save lives as well as costs by avoiding unexpected sick days and high medical bills.
Those diagnosed with diabetes can still prevent some of the most serious consequences and complications of the illness with diligent management. Just like a healthy diet and regular activity help prevent diabetes in the first place, they can help those diagnosed stave off negative long-term effects.
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