According to the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million Americans have diabetes, which makes up 8.3% of the total population. However, 7 million of these people are undiagnosed and this number is continuing to increase. The most common age group diabetes affects is older than 65; in fact 26.9% of this age group has diabetes. So as you can see, diabetes is extremely prevalent; however, still poorly understood by many. Here is a list of some of the most frequently asked questions by diabetic patients and their families.
What is diabetes? What are the symptoms of diabetes?Diabetes is when the body is unable to utilize the glucose (sugar) in your blood. Insulin is needed to deliver the glucose for the body to utilize it; however, with diabetes there is either a lack of insulin or your body is unable to respond to the insulin. Symptoms of diabetes include: excessive thirst and hunger, frequent urination, significant weight loss, fatigue, blurry vision, high blood pressure, and frequent infections. If you have any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your primary care physician who will be able to diagnose and treat diabetes.
What is the cure for diabetes?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for diabetes. One of the best ways to control your diabetes and prevent progression of the disease is by diet an exercise. It is best to avoid foods that are high in sugar and fat. Some suggestions of foods that would be healthy for diabetic patients are: salmon, tuna, chicken, chuck roast, green vegetables, low fat yogurt, skim milk, and whole grain cereal. Exercise is very important for maintaining a healthy body, preventing, heart disease, peripheral neuropathy, and keeping control of your diabetes; however, it is very important to monitor your blood sugar. Mayo Clinic recommends checking your blood sugar before, during, and after exercise to prevent your blood sugar from getting too low. Before beginning to exercise, your blood sugar should be 100-250mg/dL. If it is lower, eat a piece of fruit or cracker to increase your blood sugar. After 30 minutes of exercise, check your blood sugar again, if your blood sugar is lower than 70mg/dL, take a break and have a snack before resuming exercise. After exercising, check your blood sugar several times within the first few hours as your body will still be needing more sugar to fuel itself and it is important that your blood sugar does not drop too low. Always consult with your primary care physician about starting a new exercise program.
What is an A1c?
A1c is the glycated hemoglobin test. This test shows how well you have been controlling your blood sugars over a 3 month span. It works by measuring the amount of sugar that is attached to hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein in your blood that carries oxygen. The result is a percent, which will correlate to what your average blood sugar has been over the course of 3 months. An A1c of 6.5% on two separate tests is diagnostic of diabetes. Diabetics should work to keep their A1c 7% or lower.
What is peripheral neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy is seen in the hands and feet. It damages the small nerves and causes numbness, tingling, and pain. Unfortunately, peripheral neuropathy is irreversible and is one of the most common problems for diabetic patients who do not keep adequate control of their blood sugars. There are medications that can help with the numbness, tingling, and pain, but are not 100% effective and cannot reverse the nerve damage. The best way to prevent peripheral neuropathy is by monitoring your diabetes, eating healthy, and exercising.
Why do I need to see the podiatrists at Boulder County Foot and Ankle regularly?Diabetes can have a significant impact on the feet such causing peripheral neuropathy, which leads to numbness, tingling, and pain. The podiatrist will be able to help relieve symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. Diabetes also causes poor wound healing ability. If you have a wound, it is important to seek podiatric treatment immediately, as with any wound there is a high risk for infection, which can lead to a future amputation if the bone gets infected. Since diabetes slows wound healing ability, podiatrists have many different treatments that can help speed up the process and prevent infection and need for future amputation. If you are a diabetic, schedule an appointment at the Boulder County Foot and Ankle to have your feet examined and treated if needed.