Diabetes- "You are not alone”
Jennifer Myszkowski, M.D.
Richland Medical Center
Diabetes is a common disease. You probably know someone who has it. You can help them and yourself by learning more about diabetes. What is your chance of getting diabetes? Do you have the symptoms and should you see your doctor? How can you help yourself, your family, and your friends feel healthier?
Begin by recognizing risk factors for diabetes. There are risk factors that you can change and those you cannot change.
Risk factors that you can change include: you are overweight or obese, based on your body mass index (BMI); your blood glucose (blood sugar) levels are higher than normal (this is called “pre-diabetes” or “borderline diabetes” or ”impaired glucose tolerance”;, your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, or you have high blood pressure (hypertension); your HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) is less than 35; your triglyceride level is higher than 250; you are fairly inactive, meaning you are physically active less than three times a week.
Risk factors you cannot change: You are 45 years of age or older; have a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes; have a family background that is Hispanic/Latino, African American, American Indian, Asian American or Pacific Islander; had diabetes while you were pregnant; gave birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or more; have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS); or have acanthosis nigricans , which means the skin around your neck or in your armpits appears dark, thick and velvety.
Knowing the risk factors for diabetes will clue you in whether you should check for symptoms of diabetes such as being very thirsty, urinating often, blurry vision, or losing weight without trying. If you have any of these symptoms you should see your doctor.
Whether you are being treated for diabetes or want to prevent diabetes, the basics are the same: Be active every day for at least 30 minutes. Lose weight if you are overweight (only 5-10 pounds) or maintain a healthy weight. Manage stress.
Even if you know what you should do to prevent or treat diabetes, figuring out how to do it and fitting it into your daily routine can be a big challenge. Making changes in how you care for your health is a matter of trying and learning. It’s all about choosing a goal and working toward it. Making a plan and taking the first step will help you reach your goal. Pick a step that is specific, measurable, and set a time limit to see if your plan is working for you. If your goal is be more active, then pick 3 days in your week that you can go for a 30 minute walk. At the end of the week review what worked, for example I enjoyed walking with a friend, or did not work, my chosen day did not work because my child was sick. Keep evaluating what works and focus on the good changes.
Not taking care of yourself when you have diabetes may lead to an early death or stop you from leading a full life due to poor health. Serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke, dialysis, blindness, and amputation can be prevented by managing your “Diabetes ABCs”:
A is for the A1C test (A-one-C). This is a blood test that measures your average blood sugar (glucose) level over the past three months.
B is for Blood pressure.
C is for Cholesterol.
S is for stopping smoking.
You are not alone whether you want to prevent diabetes or are learning to manage your diabetes. You have your health care team: Your doctor and the staff at the Richland Medical Center, Spring Green Medical Center or Muscoda Health Center. The Richland Hospital’s Certified Diabetes Education Program, monthly Diabetes Support Group, grocery store tours, and “sharps” collection program.
Your pharmacist, eye doctor, foot doctor, and dentist are also a part of the team. Your community- from the places where you can exercise to the meals we share. Your country: visit the National Diabetes Education Program website to learn about making healthy changes: ndep.nih.gov/resources/diabetes-healthsense
Please contact your doctor to help you with goal setting and planning to live a healthy lifestyle. We are looking forward to celebrating your good health!