November 29, 2012
By Lurina Williams,
Special to the NNPA
“A lot of times people believe that they ate too much sugar and that is what caused their diabetes,” said Pam Davis, diabetes educator for Novo Nordisk Inc.
“In reality, there are a lot of things that contribute to why people have diabetes. Certainly what you eat can play a role. But, for instance, genetics, having a family history of diabetes, age, ethnicity, all of those kinds of things that we cannot change are kind of the underlining things that we always have to look at.”
Other risk factors include: being overweight, sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure, being over 45 years of age and giving birth to large babies. There is no cure for the chronic disease, but according to medical experts, if managed and controlled properly diabetics can live long healthy lives. Some ways to manage diabetes are: taking medication properly, eating healthy, exercising and staying active, regular doctor’s visits, checking blood sugar levels and avoiding stress.
The key to keeping diabetes in control is first having a good team. A good team usually consists of support from family and friends, a doctor, a nurse, an ophthalmologist, a podiatrist, a nutritionist and an endocrinologist. Your team will help with creating meal plans, planning workouts or physical activities, scheduling when to check sugar and take medications, planning blood sugar goals and providing emotional support.
“There’s no reason why someone with diabetes can’t live a long healthy life, but they do have to do something about it to make it stay that way,” Davis said.
According to Davis and other diabetes experts, one out of 12 Americans has diabetes. Typically doctors test and can tell if a patient has the disease by an A1C of 6.5 percent or higher or blood sugar levels higher than 126. The A1C is an average number from your blood glucose levels over the course of two to three months.
A healthy A1C should be no higher than seven percent, they said. Symptoms include frequent urination, being thirsty and hungry more than often, unusual weight loss, frequent periods of fatigue, irritability, blurry vision, wounds that won’t heal and numbness or tingling hands or feet.
“One of the things that we teach people is that diabetes is a progressive disease meaning that it does tend to get worse unless we do things to combat it. So, complications that can result from diabetes are preventable ... and so we prevent that by keeping our blood sugar in good control and making sure that it’s as close to normal as possible.”