Waking up to Diabetes: April 6, 2014

It’s believed that 7 million Americans don’t know they’re living with a ticking time bomb: Type 2 diabetes. That’s the best estimate from a 2013 report by the American Diabetes Association. 

Sharon Krispinsky is a certified diabetes educator with Lee Memorial Health System’s Lee Health Solutions.

“The challenge with Type 2 diabetes is that very often you may be asymptomatic, have no symptoms at all. And so it’s very hard for people to change behaviors when they don’t feel bad.”

The reality is many people learn they have diabetes when their blood sugar gets out of whack and they show up at the ER.

“Patients, particularly when they’re first diagnosed, are usually very dehydrated if their blood sugars are extremely high. And that prompts them to come into the hospital because they have so many symptoms related to the hyperglycemia” says Krispinsky.

It is a stressful wakeup call and one that is preventable. Provided people look at their personal risk factors and watch out for even the slightest warning signs.

Risk factors include: being overweight, having a high proportion of belly fat, aging, inactivity and family history.

If you feel you are at risk, look for these warning signs: frequent urination, excessive thirst, slow healing, blurry vision and fatigue. Your doctor can give you a blood test to reveal your status. By properly managing the condition, patients avoid the risk of complications.

“Even with a modest weight loss, a 5 -10% weight loss, they can significantly improve their blood sugar control and their overall health” Krispinsky says.

While prevention is always the optimal choice, no one wants to be blind-sided with a health crisis.