Senior Health Watch: Diabetes

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Diabetes is the inability of the body to make or use insulin, which helps change sugar into the energy we need to stay alive. There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 generally affects only children and young adults. However, Type 2 is most prevalent in individuals over 45 and becomes even more common with age.

Type 2 Diabetes is the inability of the body to make enough insulin or use the insulin produced correctly. Patients are generally over 45, have a history of diabetes in their family, are overweight, don’t exercise, and have cholesterol problems. The disease is more prominent in certain racial and ethnic groups, such as African Americans, American Indians, and Hispanics.

Treatment options for Type 2 diabetes include diabetes pills and insulin injections. However, one of the most effective ways to regulate diabetes, especially in the early stages of the disease, is with diet and exercise. You can prevent or significantly delay the onset of diabetes by losing weight if you are overweight and remaining physically active. Daily monitoring of blood sugar levels, with exercise and balanced meals used to correct abnormally high or low sugar levels, can help individuals to control their diabetes.

Severe or unregulated diabetes can lead to nerve damage, foot and leg problems, amputation, eye disorders, and kidney disease.

Warning Signs & Symptoms of Diabetes:
Frequent urination
Extreme thirst
Extreme hunger
Excessive Weight Loss
Exhaustion
Irritability
Blurred Vision
Difficulty seeing
Frequent infections
Cuts or Bruises that will not heal or heal slowly
Tingling or Numbness in the hands or feet
Recurring skin, gum, or bladder infections

Fast Facts about Diabetes:
Approximately 16 Million Americans have diabetes.
798,000 new cases of diabetes are diagnosed in the United States each year.
Type 2 diabetes may account for about 90 to 95 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.
Your chance of developing diabetes increases with age. An estimated 18 percent of the US population, over 65 years old, has diabetes.

Statistics taken from: http://www.medhelp.org , http://www.methodisthealth.com/diabetes, and http://www.fha.state.md.us/ocd/diabetes. General Information adapted from www.fda.gov/opacom/lowlit/diabetes.

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