Diabetes is an insidious disease that preys on older people. Type 2 diabetes, once known as “adult onset diabetes,” affects 90 – 95 percent of the more than 20 million Americans affected with diabetes. While an estimated 14.6 million Americans have been diagnosed with Type 2, 6.2 million remain unaware they have the disease – while another 40 million have pre-diabetes (which can become diabetes).
People with Type 2 diabetes produce insulin; however, either their pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body cannot use the insulin adequately. Without enough insulin, glucose (sugar) can’t get into the body’s cells. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, the body’s cells are unable to function properly.
The incidence of diabetes increases with age, as about half of all cases of diabetes occur in people older than 55 years of age.
Here are the primary complications of diabetes:
What you can do
Learn all you can about the disease so that you can recognize warning signs that your blood sugar levels are out of balance. Signs of high blood sugar – usually due to having eaten too much, being under stress, or having too little insulin in the body – include a frequent need to urinate, nausea, extreme thirst or hunger, and blurred vision. Signs of low-blood sugar – usually due to not having eaten enough, or having exercised too much – include shaking, sweating, a fast heartbeat, anxiety, dizziness, hunger, weakness and tiredness, and irritability.
Diet and exercise are extremely important. The nutritional goal for diabetics is to attain the ABCs of diabetes. The A stands for the A1c or hemoglobin A1c test, which measures average blood sugar over the previous three months; B is for blood pressure, and C is for cholesterol. People with diabetes should attain as near as normal blood sugar control, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
Meanwhile, exercise can help by improving glucose tolerance – meaning that blood sugars are controlled with less medication, lowering the chance of developing serious complications from diabetes, helping the body manage stress, aiding in weight control, and decreasing one’s risk of getting diabetes in the first place.
Changing one’s lifestyle choices is also critical. Smoking, for example, increases one’s chance of developing diabetes complications in addition to increasing the risk of developing diabetes in the first place.
Diabetics usually need to regularly check their blood sugar levels at home. There are a number of devices available, and they use only a drop of blood. Self-monitoring tells how well diet, medication, and exercise are working together to control the disease. The American Diabetes Association recommends keeping blood sugar levels in the range of 80 – 120 mg/dL before meals and 100 – 140 mg/dL at bedtime.
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For more information, please visit our website at www.angelsinhome.com.