Healthy lifestyle can reduce risk, impact of diabetes

Post Date:10/30/2019 4:36 PM

Uncontrolled, diabetes can cause blindness, nerve damage, kidney disease and other health problems and affects many. One in 10 Americans have the disease and another 84 million are at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes is a leading cause of disability and death in the United States. However, there is good news. Those at risk for type 2 diabetes can lower their chances if they make lifestyle changes including adopting a healthy diet, being physically active and losing weight.

November marks National Diabetes Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about diabetes risk factors and to encourage healthy living.

“There is not a cure for diabetes, but a lifestyle with healthy eating and regular activity can reduce the impact on your life and help you stay on track,” said Dr. Philip Keiser, Galveston County local health authority.

There are three main types of diabetes – type 1, type 2 and gestational. Type 1 accounts for roughly 5 percent of all diagnosed cases in adults and can develop at any age. There is no known way to prevent type 1 diabetes.

Roughly 95 percent of adults who have diabetes have type 2, which can often be delayed or prevented with lifestyle changes. Type 2 affects a body’s ability to use insulin well and makes it unable to regulate blood sugar levels.

Early detection and treatment of diabetes can decrease the risk of developing complications from the disease. Diabetes can be managed by working with a health professional.

“Making small changes can have a big impact. Park farther away from the building when shopping, take the stairs instead of the elevator, replace your soda with water,” Keiser said. “Losing weight can cut the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in half. It is good to work to get your type 2 diabetes under control as it can lead to a host of other health problems down the road.”

Risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes include:

  • Being overweight;
  • Being 45 years old or older;
  • Having a parent, brother or sister with type 2 diabetes;
  • Being physically active less than three times a week; and
  • Ever having gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby who weighed more than nine pounds.

Those who show any risk signs should contact their health care provider to see if they should be tested for type 2 diabetes. Race and ethnicity also matter. African Americans, Hispanic/ Latino Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders and some Asian Americans are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:

  • Urinating often;
  • Feeling very thirsty;
  • Feeling very hungry – event though you are eating;
  • Extreme fatigue;
  • Blurry vision;
  • Cuts/ bruises that are slow to heal;
  • Weight loss – even though you are eating more (type 1); and
  • Tingling, pain or numbness in the hands/ feet (type 2).

“The sooner you find out if you have diabetes, the sooner you can start making changes that will benefit you now and in the future,” Keiser said.

Galveston County is here to help. The health district offers a free Diabetes 101 weekly self-management class. Participants meet each Wednesday, 3-4:30 p.m. in the Texas City WIC classroom, located at 9850-B Emmett F. Lowry Expressway. Class topics include monitoring blood glucose, healthy eating, meal planning, understanding food labels, counting carbs, managing stress through increased activity and more. To learn more, email chs@gchd.org or call 409-938-2293.

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