Diabetes Is on the Rise

Diabetes is spreading like a wildfire in our communities. Each year more adults and children are being diagnosed with diabetes. Between 1990 and 1998 there was a 33% increase in the U. S. And in Illinois, 900,000 adults have been diagnosed and there are 3 million more at risk.

Doctors don't know why some people get diabetes and others do not. Living with diabetes means living with complications that may cause an early death. Diabetes increases the risk of a heart attack, stroke, blindness, amputations, kidney failure, nerve damage, and gum disease.

What is diabetes?

After eating a meal, the liver changes the starch and sugar eaten into glucose (sugar). Then it is released into the blood. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas. It allows sugar from the blood to move into the cells where it is used as energy. Every part of the body needs a supply of glucose (energy) to move. It is used for lots of things such as breathing and blinking to walking and running.

If your pancreas does not make any insulin, it is called Type I diabetes. Type II diabetes occurs when the body cannot make enough-or cannot properly use insulin. Normally, the body's natural control system releases just the right amount of insulin. In diabetics, the control system no longer works the way it should.

Controlling Blood Glucose

Normal blood glucose is 90 to 105. The goal for people with diabetes is to keep blood glucose as close to normal as possible. Although medication helps, it cannot work alone. A controlled amount of carbohydrates (sugar and starch) must be eaten on a regular basis.

It is important for diabetics to eat about the same amount of food, around the same time each day. A moderate amount of exercise is also important to keep the balance. Diet, exercise, and medication (if it is prescribed) keeps blood glucose at desired levels.

Are You Diabetic?

The signs of diabetes may develop slowly in some people. Others may not show any signs at all. Signs to look for are:

  • Increased and frequent urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Weight loss along with increased hunger
  • Blurred vision
  • Weakness and feeling tired
  • Frequent vaginal yeast infections
  • And skin infections

The only sure way to detect diabetes is to have a blood test. Make an appointment with your doctor or at a clinic. Fast (no food or beverages) for 12 hours before testing to make sure you get good test results.

For example: If you schedule a 10 a.m. appointment, make sure your last food eaten is before 10 p.m. the night before. You can drink water, but nothing else. Remember not to eat until after your blood test.

If you are diabetic, your doctor will tell you. The diagnosis of diabetes is usually made when glucose levels are greater than 200 on two different tests. Most people also have one or more signs too. See a doctor to be sure.

Edited by Katherine Reuter, Extension Educator, Consumer and Family Economics, University of Illinois Extension,Countryside Extension Center.

Prepared by Susan E. Taylor, Extension Educator, Consumer and Family Economic, University of Illinois Extension, Countryside Extension Center.


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