Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. The cause of diabetes continues to be a mystery, although both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles. There are 20.8 million children and adults in the United States, or 7% of the population, who have diabetes. While an estimated 14.6 million have been diagnosed with diabetes, unfortunately, 6.2 million people (or nearly one-third) are unaware that they have the disease.
In order to determine whether or not a patient has pre-diabetes or diabetes, health care providers conduct a Fasting Plasma Glucose Test (FPG) or an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT). Either test can be used to diagnose pre-diabetes or diabetes.
There are two major types of diabetes- type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin.
Diabetes neuropathy is a common concern for people living with diabetes. Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage that occurs in people with diabetes. People with this can have numbness, tingling, or pain in different parts of their body. Most often, the nerves and skin of the feet are affected, but areas of skin, blood vessels, and the heart, bowel, or bladder can be affected.
Diabetic neuropathy can be caused by blood sugar levels that are too high, because this damages blood vessels and nerves. It can be prevented by treating the patients diabetes. To do so, a patient should:
- learn as much as they can about diabetes and how to control the disease by working with their doctor.
- learn how a healthy diet and exercise can lower blood sugar levels.
- If they have high blood pressure or cholesterol levels, take medications as prescribed.
- Record how much insulin they take, what medications they take, and home blood sugar measurements
To prevent foot problems from diabetic neuropathy, patients with diabetes should check their feet and shoes often for any changes. They should take good care of their feet by washing, moisturizing, keeping toenails trimmed and wearing cotton socks. They should choose shoes carefully, and break in new shoes slowly. Finally, they should avoid things that are bad for your feet such as walking barefoot, or wearing socks with elastic band at the top.
For more information, please visit the American Diabetes Association.
Hypertension is a condition where the blood pressure is constantly higher than normal. This poses a serious health risk because it forces the heart to work extra hard. The effects of hypertension include strokes and heart attacks.
Hypertension is due to various contributing factors, such as smoking, a diet rich in fat and cholesterol, and stress. High blood pressure can be controlled through lifestyle changes. The key to successfully controlling high blood pressure is to start with one thing at a time. Ask your doctor what you should change first, and remember that lifestyle changes will overlap. A hypertension diet cuts out lots of fat and salt, which leads to weight loss. Weight loss leads to more energy, which makes it easier to exercise, making it easier to lose weight.
If you have mild hypertension you may only need to make lifestyle changes and monitor your blood pressure regularly at home. For more severe hypertension, antihypertensive medication may be prescribed in conjunction with lifestyle changes.
For more information, please visit the National Institute of Health website.
Osteoporosis is a debilitating disease that can be prevented and treated. It is a disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break. If not prevented or if left untreated, osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a bone breaks. These broken bones, or fractures, occurs typically in the hip, spine and wrist.
The key to preventing osteoporosis is building strong bones. Especially before age 30, this can be the best defense against developing osteoporosis and a healthy lifestyle can be critically important for keeping bones strong.
Five steps to Bone Health and Osteoporosis Prevention
1. Get your daily recommended amount of calcium and vitamin D
2. Engage in regular weight-bearing exercises
3. Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol
4. Talk to your healthcare provider about bone health
5. Have a bone density test and take medication when appropriate
A Bone Mineral Density (BMD) test is the only way to diagnose osteoporosis and determine you risk for future fracture. A BMD measure the density of your bones and is necessary to determine whether you need medication to help maintain your bone mass, prevent further bone loss and reduce fracture risk. A BMD test is accurate, painless, and noninvasive.
For more information on osteoporosis, please visits the National Osteoporosis Foundation.