November is American Diabetes Month and the theme is “A Day in the Life of Diabetes.” The American Diabetes Association is requesting those who have diabetes to upload a picture to the American Diabetes Association’s Facebook page and share your story. For every photo and story added to the Facebook page, CVS/pharmacy will donate $1 dollar to the American Diabetes Association. This is a great way to help raise money to work towards diminishing the prevalence of diabetes in the United States. This month there will be a series of blogs that will be addressing topics that will be especially relevant to those patients who have diabetes, but to begin, this will be a brief overview of what diabetes is, who it affects, and the complications.
There are two forms of diabetes. There is Type 1 diabetes, which is usually diagnosed during childhood and there is Type 2 diabetes, which the usual onset is during the adult years. However, the mechanism between these two forms of diabetes are different, just like the population that it affects. Type 1 diabetes is due to the body not producing enough insulin. Whereas Type 2 diabetes is where enough insulin is able to be produced, however, the body is unable to appropriately respond to the insulin. The body gets its energy from food; the energy comes from the breakdown of food into glucose. The insulin then collects the glucose and delivers it around the body to be used and to keep the body energized and healthy. However, both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are related in that there is a problem with the insulin.
There are warning signs before developing Type 2 diabetes. This is called pre-diabetes. When the doctor tells you that you are pre-diabetic, this means that your glucose levels are higher than the average person’s, but not as high as a diabetic patient’s glucose levels; the glucose level range for a pre-diabetic patient is 100-125 mg/dl. There are increased risk factors leading to the development of Type 2 diabetes, such as being overweight, having high cholesterol, a high triglyceride/sugar intake, high blood pressure, and having a family history of Type 2 diabetes. So, to decrease these risk factors, one can start by trying to exercise daily, even if all there is time for is a short walk, eating healthy, controlling weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Additionally, regular visits to your family doctor will be very beneficial.
In the field of podiatry, the most devastating complications due to patients having diabetes include peripheral neuropathy and wounds, especially those wounds that result in an amputation. Peripheral neuropathy is the lack of sensation. Many patients will relate to being unable to feel the bottoms of their feet. This results because the nerves are injured by the constant high levels of glucose in the body; with the nerves being unable to tell the body that the feet may be hurting or are stepping on something, it may lead to the formation of a wound due to the body’s loss of its protection sensor. These are two devastating complications that podiatrists will help to treat, but other complications that diabetic patients may experience include:
- Heart disease
- Vision problems
- Kidney disease
- Amputations (more than 60% of non-traumatic limb amputations are in patients with diabetes)
There are many less severe complications of diabetes, but these are definitely the most devastating. It is important that during November, that we all try to learn more about diabetes and ways to prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes. Throughout this month, there will be more blogs on important topics associated with diabetes. In the meantime, please don’t forget to post your picture and story on the American Diabetes Association’s Facebook page to help raise money this month.