FAIRMONT, Minn. — According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 9 percent of the U.S. population had diabetes in 2015, and it’s the country’s seventh-leading cause of death. November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, so Jill O’Donnell, a Mayo Clinic Health System certified diabetes educator and registered nurse, wants to share information about the disease and advice for prevention and management.
- What is diabetes? Insufficient production of, or resistance to, a hormone called insulin causes diabetes. There are several types of diabetes, all of which are a result of blood sugar (glucose) levels being excessively high.
- Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and was formerly referred to as juvenile diabetes. The body not producing enough insulin causes type 1.
- Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and affects millions of Americans – both diagnosed and undiagnosed. In the case of type 2 diabetes, the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or resists its effects. Obesity and genetics play major roles in developing insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.
- Gestational diabetes may occur during the latter half of pregnancy in women who did not previously have diabetes. These women are considered at higher risk for type 2 diabetes later in life. It’s important to monitor blood sugar levels throughout the pregnancy to keep the mother and child healthy.
- Prediabetes is a condition where blood sugar levels are abnormally high but not high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. Individuals diagnosed with prediabetes are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. So, people with prediabetes should address it proactively through weight loss efforts and moderate exercise.
- What are symptoms of diabetes? Prediabetes often has no obvious signs. However, common symptoms of other forms of diabetes include:
- Frequent urination
- Excessive hunger and/or thirst
- Unusual weight loss
Additional signs of type 2 diabetes include:
- Blurred vision
- Frequent and recurring infections
- Tingling and numbness in the hands and feet
- Slow healing cuts or bruises
However, not all type 2 diabetics experience symptoms. If you have any concerns or questions about diabetes, it’s important to speak with your health care provider.
- How can I manage and prevent diabetes? It’s critical to maintain a healthy diet that includes dietary fiber from whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds — as is the case with many other chronic diseases. Also, limit the intake of saturated fats and high glycemic foods, such as pastas, potatoes, sugar-filled snacks, soda and white bread.
Moderately exercising 30 minutes a day, five days per week is essential for diabetes prevention and management. Regular aerobic activity helps individuals shed pounds, feel better and subsequently improve or prevent diabetic conditions. In fact, moderate exercise can lower blood sugar for up to 24 hours.
“In my experience over the last 20-plus years, I’ve found that everyone has a risk for type 2 diabetes,” says O’Donnell. “Awareness if key. Ask questions. Get screened. Early diagnosis can be very beneficial in the long run, especially if you work with your health care team and start making lifestyle changes. The more proactive you can be, the healthier you will stay.”
Call Mayo Clinic Health System in Fairmont at 507-238-8500 to schedule an appointment.
Mayo Clinic Health System consists of clinics, hospitals and other health care facilities that serve the health care needs of people in more than 60 communities in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. The community-based providers, paired with the resources and expertise of Mayo Clinic, enable patients in the region to receive the highest-quality health care close to home.
Press ContactMicah Dorfner