Submitted by Oswego County
Diabetes is the most rapidly growing chronic disease of our time. It has become an epidemic that affects 1 out of every 12 adult New Yorkers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently predicted that 1 out of every 3 children now born in the United States will develop diabetes in their lifetime. For Hispanic/Latinos, the forecast is even more alarming: 1 in every 2.
Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not make any insulin, adequate insulin, or can’t use the insulin it does make as well as it should. Without insulin, glucose or sugar remains in the blood stream and cannot be used for energy by the cells. Over time, having too much glucose in the blood can cause many health problems.
According to Dennis Norfleet, MD, Public Health Director for Oswego County, “Diabetes is the leading cause of new blindness, kidney disease, and amputation, and it contributes greatly to the state’s and nation’s number one killer, cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and stroke).” Type 2 Diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. In Type 2 Diabetes, the body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin, as it should.
The cause of Type 2 Diabetes is largely unknown, but several risk factors have been associated with the disease.
Risk factors for developing Type 2 Diabetes include:
- Being over 45 years old
- Physical inactivity
- Family background that is American Indian, African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American, or Pacific Islander
- Parent or sibling with diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Abnormal cholesterol levels
- Having had a baby that weighed more than 9 pounds or having had gestational diabetes
- History of polycystic ovary disease (PCOS)
Eating too much sugar does not cause diabetes. Eating too much sugar can however lead to obesity, which is a risk factor for diabetes. Only a doctor or health care provider can diagnose diabetes. Diabetes often goes undiagnosed because many of its symptoms seem harmless or don’t always appear right away. Symptoms include:
- Increased thirst
- Increased hunger
- Having to urinate more often – especially at night
- Feeling very tired
- Weight loss
- Blurry vision
- Sores that do not heal
- Tingling/numbness in the hands and feet
Dr. Norfleet recommends taking the following precautions to reduce your risk of developing diabetes:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat healthy and make wise food choices
- Participate in physical activity-aim for 30 minutes most days (brisk walking, biking, or swimming)
- Do not start smoking, and if you do smoke—quit
“People at high risk for diabetes can prevent or delay the onset of the disease through modest lifestyle changes, and they can slow or halt the progression of pre-diabetes to diabetes,” Dr. Norfleet said. To learn more about diabetes, visit the New York State Department of Health website at www.nyhealth.gov or www.Diabetes.org.