Diabetes Awareness Month

Courtesy of the 86th Medical Group
Courtesy photoDiabetes remains the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. There are many misconceptions about diabetes, including that it’s caused by eating too much sugar, that it’s not a serious disease and that people who get diabetes must follow a strict diet.
Courtesy photo
Diabetes remains the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. There are many misconceptions about diabetes, including that it’s caused by eating too much sugar, that it’s not a serious disease and that people who get diabetes must follow a strict diet.

They say knowledge is power. No statement holds more truth than when speaking about diabetes mellitus, typically referred to as diabetes. In the month of November, the 86th Medical Group would like to increase your awareness about diabetes.

According to the 2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report (released in June), diabetes remains the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. It was reported that 29.1 million people had diabetes in 2012. This is an alarming rise from 25.8 million reported in 2010. New cases include people from varied races, ethnicities and ages. People 20 years old and older diagnosed with pre-diabetes totaled 86 million.

There are several misconceptions about diabetes. Below are common misunderstandings about the disease.

Diabetes is not caused by eating too much sugar.  

TRUE — Diabetes mellitus is a disease characterized by high blood sugar levels resulting from the body’s inability to use blood glucose for energy. In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas no longer makes insulin. In Type 2 diabetes, either the pancreas does not make enough insulin or the body is unable to use insulin correctly. Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics and unknown factors that trigger its onset. Type 2 diabetes is caused by genetics and lifestyle factors. Risk factors for Type 1 and
Type 2 diabetes that cannot be changed include age, race or ethnicity, gender and family history (genetics).  Risk factors that can be altered to decrease the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes are being overweight, inactivity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. To determine your risk level, take the American Diabetes Risk Factor Test at www.diabetes.org/are-you-at-risk/diabetes-risktest/.

Diabetes is not a serious disease.

FALSE — Diabetes is a serious disease that can be managed with positive outcomes for one’s lifestyle. For some individuals with pre-diabetes, early and effective treatment can actually return blood glucose levels to the normal range. If diagnosed with diabetes and managed properly, individuals can prevent or delay diabetes complications. Complications of diabetes can affect your eyes, teeth and gums, heart, kidneys, sex organs, blood vessels, nerves or feet.  The diabetes health care team will assist patients with self-management of a diabetes regime. This team includes, but is not limited to, a primary care manager, a disease manager,
diabetic educator, an endocrinologist and psychologist.  Individuals with diabetes should meet with their primary care manager at least once a year.

You can have “a touch of the sugars” or “a little” diabetes.  

FALSE — People are diagnosed as pre-diabetic or diabetic Type 1. Your primary care manager may order blood tests to make a diagnosis for pre-diabetes or diabetes.
A common test is the A1c test that measures the average blood glucose over the past three months. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is diagnosed at an A1c of greater than or equal to 6.5 percent, and pre-diabetes is diagnosed at an A1c of 5.7 to 6.4 percent.  This test can be accomplished at your local medical facility.  Your primary care manager will discuss the results with you and plan your medical care as needed.

People who get diabetes need to follow a special diet.

FALSE — People with diabetes benefit from the same healthy diet that is good for everyone else. A diet that is low fat, moderate in salt and sugar, contains lean proteins, non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and fruit is a good combination for healthy eating.  In addition to healthy eating, one should maintain a regular physical activity program. It can help lower blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol and the risk for heart disease and stroke. Additionally, exercise burns calories to manage weight, strengthens muscles and bones, increases energy for daily activities, and reduces stress.

Symptoms of diabetes can go unnoticed.

TRUE — Some individuals with pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes may not notice mild symptoms that could be indicators of diabetes. Common symptoms of diabetes include:
• Feeling thirsty and hungry
• Frequent urination
• Extreme fatigue
• Blurry vision
• Slow healing from cuts or bruises
• Weight loss even though meals have increased
• Tingling, pain or numbness in the hands or feet
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your primary care manager for further evaluation.

Small changes in your lifestyle can decrease your risk of developing diabetes.

TRUE — There are several ways to lower the risk of developing diabetes. Your diabetes medical professionals at the 86th MDG can assist you with the following:
• Losing weight
• Incorporating a healthy eating plan into your lifestyle
• Managing high blood pressure
• Maintaining an exercise plan to stay physically active
• Managing high blood glucose with a goal set by your primary care manager
• Smoking cessation

Now that you have increased your knowledge, use this power and fight diabetes. Make plans to attend the Diabetes Discussion from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at the Ramstein Clinic. This event is open to anyone enrolled at the Ramstein Clinic.

For more information or to sign up for the event, contact the disease managers at 479-2689 or 06371-46-2689, or your primary care manager through MiCare or the appointment line at 479-2273 or 06371-46-CARE.