Lifestyle changes and medical management keep diabetes under control

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Diabetes is a metabolic disease that occurs when the body either does not produce enough insulin or does not respond properly to insulin. The pancreas makes insulin in order to move glucose from the bloodstream into muscle, fat and liver cells to be used as fuel.

Diabetes affects every cell, blood vessel and nerve in the body. Undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes increases your chances of heart attack, stroke and other serious complications by weakening the blood vessels, hardening the arteries or decreasing circulation due to thicker, stickier blood.

Presently there are no cures for diabetes but with self-management, education, correct medicines and moderate lifestyle changes, you can live a long, healthy life with diabetes. Diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes makes insulin management important to living but a diagnosis of pre-diabetes does not mean that you will eventually end up with Type 2 diabetes. The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), a large study of people at high risk for diabetes, showed that losing weight and increasing physical activity reduced the development of type 2 diabetes by 58 percent during a 3-year period. Among adults older than 60, the reduction was even greater at 71 percent.

Diabetes complications include:

  • Heart attack: 2-4 times more likely
  • Stroke: 2-4 times more likely
  • Kidney failure: leading cause of kidney failure
  • Blindness: leading cause of blindness in people ages 20-74
  • Amputation: more than 60 percent of non-traumatic amputations are due to diabetes
  • Skin problems: up to 1/3 of people with diabetes have skin problems ranging from discoloration to bacterial infections
  • Nerve damage: 60-70 percent of diabetics have some form of nerve damage, from tingling to complete loss of feeling.
  • Hearing loss: twice as many diabetics have hearing loss; people with pre-diabetes are 70 percent more likely to have hearing loss
  • Oral health: increased possibility of having gum disease
  • Digestive issues: nearly 1/3 of diabetics will have digestive issues; the most common is the inability of the stomach to empty
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