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Know the signs and symptoms of diabetes

Diabetes impacts more than 35 million Americans, which is why it is important for our team at UnityPoint Health – Trinity Regional Medical Center to recognize National Diabetes Month each November.

Diabetes ­– a chronic long-lasting health condition affecting how the body turns food into energy – impacts nearly 10 percent of Iowans and can lead to medical expenses more than two times higher than those who don’t have diabetes.

According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 37 million Americans have diabetes, including 8.5 million who show high glucose levels, but haven’t officially been diagnosed. Of the impacted individuals, 1.9 million are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes – an insulin-dependent condition where the pancreas makes no insulin. Type 2 diabetes is caused when your body’s cells don’t respond normally to insulin.

Typically, your body breaks food down into sugar/glucose and releases it into the bloodstream. Blood sugar levels rise and the pancreas releases insulin — the key to let the blood sugar into the body’s cells for use as energy. If there isn’t enough insulin, or if cells stop responding to the insulin, too much blood sugar remains in the blood stream. Over time, this can cause serious health problems, including heart disease, vision loss and kidney disease.

With diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use it as well as it should. Common symptoms may be mild or unnoticed in some individuals with Type 2 Diabetes:

• Urinating often

• Feeling very thirsty

• Feeling very hungry, even though you just ate

• Extreme fatigue

• Blurry vision

• Cut/bruises that are slow to heal

• Tingling, pain or numbness in the hands/feet

• Weight loss, even though eating more (Type 1)

In Iowa, there are nearly 19,000 new cases of diabetes each year. And while there isn’t a cure for diabetes, losing weight, eating healthy food and being active can help. Individuals should also take medicine as prescribed, get diabetes self-management education and keep health care appointments to help manage diabetes. Annual wellness visits with your primary care provider – regardless of age, gender, or lifestyle habits – provide preventive care, one of the best ways to treat a variety of health issues. Early detection and treatment of diabetes can decrease the risk of developing complications.

Research shows 34 percent of adults in Iowa have prediabetes, where blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association states more than 96 million Americans, over the age of 18, have prediabetes. For that reason, it’s important to be aware of the risk factors, the signs and symptoms, and know how to prevent and control diabetes. Anyone can develop diabetes, but some people have a higher probability. Common risk factors include:

• Over 40 years old

• Overweight

• Family history of diabetes

• Not being active enough

• History of gestational diabetes

• Certain ethnic groups (African American, Hispanic/Latino American, Asian American, American Indian, Pacific Islander, and Alaskan Native)

If you have prediabetes and are overweight, losing a small amount of weight and getting regular physical activity can lower your risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. A small weight loss means losing around 5-7 percent of your body weight – that’s 10-14 pounds for a 200-pound person. Regular physical activity means getting at least 150 minutes a week of brisk walking or a similar activity – that’s just 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

A great way to get in your daily physical activity is by being a Trinity Regional Medical Center Hall Walker. The walking path, a 0.32-mile loop, is open daily from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. for walkers to enjoy a self-guided, climate-controlled environment. If you are a new walker to the program, please register in the Trinity Diabetes Center before starting this free program. Registration is offered Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., where you will need to complete a walking waiver, receive your walking pass, take a tour of the path, and receive a map.

You may be asking yourself, “What now?” If you would like to know what your risk for diabetes is, you can take a simple risk test at www.diabetes.org/risk-test.

The good news is you have a community to fall back on. You don’t have to maneuver this by yourself! You have the support of countless others include our team here at the Trinity Diabetes Center. If you or someone you know is diabetic and has questions or needs more information, please call the Trinity Diabetes Center at 515-574-6350.

Julie Bass is a registered nurse diabetic educator at the Trinity Diabetes Center.

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