The American Diabetes Association estimates that almost 30 million Americans are diabetic, while an additional 86 million are considered pre-diabetic, and the incidence continues to increase at alarming rates. If you’ve been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not quite high enough for you to be considered diabetic. When an individual has pre-diabetes, it also means they are beginning to develop insulin resistance. Insulin resistance slows the flow of glucose to the cells, causing a back-up of sugar in the blood. If you are diagnosed with pre-diabetes and you don’t begin making important lifestyle changes, you could develop Type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, pre-diabetes can be delayed or even reversed by making lifestyle changes. Regular physical activity and weight loss are some of the best things you can do to prevent the onset of diabetes.
Only five percent of diabetes in the United States is considered Type 1, where the body makes very little or no insulin. Insulin is the hormone needed to move glucose from the blood into the body cells to provide energy. Type 1 diabetes is treated by adding insulin back into the body either through injections or an insulin pump. Regularly checking your blood sugar level and being conscious of what you are eating are important practices for managing type 1 diabetes. In terms of diet, this means avoiding sweets, eating low fat and controlling portion sizes, especially carbohydrates.
Approximately 90 percent of diabetes diagnosed in the United States is Type 2, which is when your body does not make enough insulin and becomes insulin-resistant. Type 2 diabetes commonly presents itself without symptoms; however, high blood sugar symptoms can include frequent urination, unusual thirst, extreme tiredness, blurry vision, extreme hunger and wounds that are slow to heal. While diabetes cannot be cured, Type 2 diabetes can be successfully controlled with diet, exercise, weight loss, and medications possibly insulin injections.
Cone Health and the Lifestyle Center at Alamance Regional Medical Center have a network of endocrinologists, diabetes educators, nurses and dietitians that are dedicated to educating the community about diabetes and how they can take steps to prevent the disease.
Hilda Cook is a registered nurse and certified diabetes educator at Cone Health Alamance Regional’s Lifestyle Center. She earned her diploma in nursing through Davis Hospital in 1971. Hilda has been taking care of diabetes patients since 2000 and is an insulin pump trainer.