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Living with Diabetes

If you missed the "How Sweet It Is: Living With Diabetes” Seminar on November 7, 2013, here are the highlights:

Dr. Majd Hakim, Endocrinologist with Frederick Internal Medicine and Endocrinology, gave an educational presentation on diabetes at the Women’s Center at FMH Crestwood. In individuals who do not have diabetes, glucose stays in a healthy range because insulin is released at the right times and in the right amounts. For those with diabetes, blood glucose builds up because too little insulin is made, cells can’t use insulin well, or the liver releases too much glucose. Symptoms of hyperglycemia or “high blood sugar” are generally reported as:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Blurry vision
  • Feeling tired
  • Slow healing of cuts or wounds
  • More frequent infections
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting

Hyperglycemia can cause long term problems such as blindness, kidney disease, nerve damage, limb amputation, heart attack and stroke. There are two main types of diabetes, Type I and Type II. Type I is when the pancreas makes too little insulin or no insulin at all. 1 in 20 people with diabetes have Type 1 and most are under age 20 when diagnosed. Insulin is always needed for treatment. With Type II Diabetes, the cells do not use insulin well (insulin resistance) or the ability for the pancreas to make insulin decreases over time. Most people with diabetes have Type II and are over age 40 when diagnosed, however, Type II is becoming more common in younger adults, children, and teens. Type II is more likely in people who are overweight, non-Caucasian, and who have a family history. Risk factors for Type II Diabetes are being overweight, sedentary lifestyle, family history of diabetes, history of gestational diabetes (diabetes in pregnancy), age, and ethnic/racial background  (African-American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Asian American).

What is pre-diabetes? It occurs before Type II and most people don’t even know they have it. Blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not yet in the diabetic range. 1 in 3 American adults (79 million) have pre-diabetes. People with pre-diabetes have an increased risk of developing Type II diabetes, heart disease and stroke

Gestational Diabetes is seen in 2%–10% of pregnancies. In the postpartum period, 5%–10% of women with gestational diabetes are found to have diabetes, usually Type II. Women who have had gestational diabetes have a 35%–60% chance of developing diabetes within 10–20 years.

There are steps you can take now to lower your risk of diabetes complications:

  • A1C < 7 (a simple blood test)
  • Blood pressure < 140/80
  • Cholesterol (LDL) < 100, statin therapy for high risk
  • Get help to quit smoking
  • Be active
  • Make healthy food choices
  • Take care of your feet
  • Get recommended screenings and early treatment for complications

Treatment consists of education, healthy eating, blood glucose monitoring, physical activity, and may include medications and/or insulin. For individuals who are obese, every kilogram of weight loss is associated with 3-4 months of improved survival from diabetes and its complications.

Emily Spears, Registered Dietician for FMH, presented ways to survive the holidays while living with diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, Emily explained that there are seven tips in regards to eating during the holidays:

  1. Focus on friends and family instead of food
  2. It’s a party, but don't overdo it
  3. Eat before you eat
  4. Bring what you like
  5. Drink in moderation
  6. Stay active
  7. If you overindulge, get back on track

Get the details on these seven tips and more.

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