Medically Reviewed by Beth Hendrickson, RN
November is National Diabetes Month. Not cause for celebration, as far as I am concerned and I am a diabetes educator.
There are over 16 million people in the United States with diabetes, with 10.4 million diagnosed and 5.4 million not even knowing it, and the number is growing daily. Every day about 2,200 people are diagnosed. That means thousands are going through their daily routines with a false sense of security.
Many believe that diabetes, because it is manageable, is not life threatening or even very serious. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death overall in the United States, and the sixth leading cause of death among other diseases. Diabetes is a chronic disease, for which there is no known cure.
If controlled properly, most people with diabetes can live relatively complication-free, but if left uncontrolled, diabetes can lead to major health problems like blindness, kidney disease, heart disease, stroke, nerve disease, and even amputations.
So how do you control it? Excellent question! Education is the first place to start. Diabetes is a disease that will be managed primarily by you. Of course your doctor will give you guidelines, but you will be the one planning your diet, testing your blood sugar, taking your medication, etc. And, unfortunately, most doctors just dont have the time to sit down with you and explain your disease, its causes, and its real definition in detail. So, if you have diabetes, you need to learn on your own.
Here are some quick hints to get you started:
- It is not what you eat that gets you into trouble. Rather, it is how much of what you eat.
- Check your blood sugar as often as you can. Always write down the results and show your doctor at every visit (and make sure he/she spends some time looking at the results).
- Check your feet everyday for signs of infection. Never go barefoot.
- Try to do some form of exercise everyday. If you have difficulty standing, try moving just your arms up and down. Do something!!
- Have your eyes checked at least once a year.
- Keep an eye on your blood pressure. Out of control blood pressure puts a strain on your kidneys.
- Find out as much about diabetes as you can!
In ending, 'celebrate' National Diabetes Month by getting your blood sugar checked. It is a simple blood test. Don't walk around thinking you don't have diabetes because you feel fine. Diabetes is a very sneaky disease. Don't be one of those 5.4 million that don't know. Not knowing could kill you.
Sharon Truax is a Certified Diabetes Educator.