Type 2 diabetes is a growing epidemic in this country and patients often do not have symptoms when they are diagnosed. In type 2 diabetes, there is either a shortage of insulin or your cells ignore the insulin. Insulin is required to help your body use glucose for energy and lower the amount of glucose in your blood. Typical symptoms of diabetes are excessive thirst, frequent urination, unusual weight loss, fatigue, blurred vision, tingling in the hands and feet. If you are worried you could have diabetes, you should talk to your doctor. Patients with type 2 diabetes are at risk for complications caused by high blood sugars, including heart disease, high blood pressure, neuropathy, kidney disease and eye problems.
Patients with prediabetes do not have diabetes yet but have elevated blood sugars. These patients are at increased risk for development of type 2 diabetes. Risk for progression to diabetes can be reduced by almost 60% by:
- Losing 7% of your body weight (about 15lb if you weigh 200lb)
- Moderate exercise (such as brisk walking) for 30 minutes 5 days per week
Diabetes and prediabetes are usually diagnosed based on fasting blood glucose levels. Prediabetes is classified as fasting blood glucose levels of 100-125. Diabetes is classified as fasting blood glucose levels over 126. Your doctor may also check a hemoglobin A1c level. A level of 5.7-6.5 is considered prediabetic and anything over 6.5 is considered diabetic.
If you are diagnosed with diabetes, adequate blood sugar control is critical for prevention of health complications. This will require:
- Healthy diet, weight loss, exercise
- Blood glucose monitoring
- Regular follow up with your doctor; bring your glucose with you
- Be able to recognize symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) if you are on medications – sweating, heart racing, confusion, jitteriness, sleepiness
It is important to get your eyes checked yearly for eye disease and keep your feet healthy and free of infection. Please visit Diabetes.org for detailed information on managing your diabetes or prediabetes.