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November is National Diabetes Month – a good time to think about prevention

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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“Complications from uncontrolled Diabetes Mellitus involve many different areas of the body and include retinal (eye) damage, kidney damage and increased risk for heart attack and stroke along with damage to peripheral nerves,” says Dr. Jud Fisher, family medicine physician with Intermountain Healthcare.

This National Diabetes Month, we are highlighting some of the types of diabetes and how to prevent the disease.

Types of Diabetes

There are three types of diabetes: type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body ceases to make insulin, which is used to break down sugars in the body. People with type 1 diabetes require insulin to survive, and there are several ways to take insulin. There is no known way to prevent type 1 diabetes, as it is genetic and can be triggered by a change of environment, such as a virus. People with a family history of type 1 diabetes should check their blood sugar with their provider to see if they have type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body does not manage its insulin and cannot keep blood sugar at normal levels. Most people with diabetes will have type 2. People who are overweight, older than 45, and/or have a family member with type 2 diabetes should talk to their provider regarding the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes occurs only in pregnant women. It usually goes away once a baby is born.

More than 95 million adults have prediabetes, according to the CDC, and 1 in 4 do not realize they have it. Prediabetes not only increases risk for diabetes, but also for heart diseases and stroke, as well. Once again, if you are overweight, older than 45, have a family member with diabetes, you are at risk of prediabetes, meaning you should talk to your provider about getting your blood sugar levels tested at your next visit.

“Excessive thirst and frequent urination along with unusual fatigue are common symptoms and should prompt a visit with your medical provider,” Fisher says.

How to Prevent

According to the CDC, risk factors for type 1 diabetes are not as clear as for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. It is important to understand how lifestyle choices could mean the difference in a type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes diagnosis.

A big step you can take is to be active more than three times a week. This means going for a 30-minute walk, heading to the gym, or doing something where the body is actively moving. Another is to manage weight by eating healthier food. By doing so, the body can regulate blood sugar.

If you have questions about diabetes, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your primary care provider. If you need a primary care provider, please visit www.intermountainhealthcare.org/Nevada.

*This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or diagnosis from a physician or qualified healthcare professional.

Part of being well is being heard.