Being overweight and having an inactive lifestyle is a very large risk factor for developing what is commonly known as adult-onset diabetes (type 2 diabetes). Type 2 diabetes also is known as noninsulin-dependent diabetes, effecting the way the body processes sugar. There is a connection between the development of type 2 diabetes and family history, so if eitherparent or a sibling has diabetes, you may be more prone to have issues with insulin.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes may include increased thirst and urination, increased hunger, weight loss, fatigue, blurred vision, slow healing sores or frequent infections, and areas of darkened skin.
If you suspect you may have diabetes or have just been diagnosed with it, here are some questions to ask your doctor:
- What is diabetes? In people with type 2 diabetes, the body is insulin resistant, or doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain a normal blood glucose level.
- How is diabetes diagnosed? Diabetes may be diagnosed with a blood test (fasting blood sugar test, random blood sugar test, 2-hour glucose tolerance test, or glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test), to determine the sugar level in your blood.
- How is diabetes treated? Your doctor will take a multifaceted approach to treating your diabetes. You may be instructed to begin a medication regimen, along with monitoring your blood sugar, altering your nutrition, and exercise program, all geared toward helping control your diabetes.
- What is the long-term risk? Diabetes can be managed, but if left untreated, it can be life-threatening. It can affect your heart, nerves, eyes, skin, hearing, and your feet, in addition to increasing your risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
- Who gets diabetes? Besides weight, inactivity, and family history all play a role in increasing your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Advancing age (over 45), and race (black, Hispanic, American Indian, Asian-American, and Alaskan) may also be risk factors. If you have an elevated blood sugar level that is not classified as diabetes, you are considered prediabetic, and may need to follow a treatment to avoid your condition turning into type 2 diabetes. Women who are pregnant may also develop what’s called gestational diabetes (often goes away after delivery).
- What can I do at home to help manage my risk factors and/or type 2 diabetes? If you have type 2 diabetes, wear a tag or bracelet identifying your condition in case of a low blood sugar emergency. If just diagnosed, or looking to prevent diabetes, learn all you can about type 2 diabetes so you can advocate for yourself. Keep up with your doctor visits and your immunizations. Practice good oral hygiene, and also foot hygiene (immediately report changes to your health care provider). It is especially important for someone with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes to control blood pressure and cholesterol levels (take medication as directed, quit smoking, control stress, and eat a healthy diet). If you drink alcohol, only do so with a meal, and make sure you keep track of your blood sugar level to avoid a blood sugar episode.
- What resources are available to someone just diagnosed?
A diabetes diagnosis can be overwhelming. You may need support. Your team of health care providers (general practitioner, endocrinologist, social worker, diabetes educator, etc.) will be great resources for finding groups, nutrition plans, exercise programs, counseling, etc., as you learn ways to cope with diabetes.
Call your doctor and seek additional treatment, particularly if your condition worsens or is particularly bothersome.
Do you have a question about diabetes? Check out EmpowHER’s diabetes page. Sign-up, post a question, join a group, share your story, connect with other women in our community and feel EmpowHERed!
http://www.mayoclinic.com Type 2 Diabetes
http://www.empowher.com/condition/diabetes Type 2 Diabetes
Christine Jeffries is a writer/editor for work and at heart, and lives in a home of testosterone with her husband and two sons. Christine is interested in women’s health and promoting strong women.