As we age so many things in our bodies change. We take longer to heal, we have limited mobility, and chronic conditions become more prevalent.
One of those chronic conditions is diabetes. The likelihood of getting diabetes goes up dramatically after the age of 45.
You may think you don’t have to worry about it because it doesn’t run in your family. And although genetics are a factor — as you age your lifestyle is a bigger factor.
In fact, per a 2020 study done by the CDC, a little over 1 in 10 Americans have diabetes. And 1 in 3 have prediabetes.
That means that if you are in a group of three people, most likely one of those people has prediabetes.
And if you don’t think it’s a big deal — it is.
Diabetes can cause you to go blind. You may have to have a leg amputated. It can also lead to kidney damage, a heart attack or stroke.
But there’s good news! You can prevent type 2 diabetes.
So let’s start with the basics — What is diabetes?
Essentially, diabetes affects how your body turns food into energy.
Most of the food we eat is turned into sugar and released into the bloodstream. If there’s too much sugar your pancreas releases insulin. That stores the sugar in cells to use for energy later.
When you have diabetes your body is not producing insulin correctly or it isn’t using it efficiently. And too much sugar stays in your bloodstream.
So as you probably know the main two types of diabetes are — Type 1 and Type 2.
Here is an infographic to help show the differences.
Diagram Credit to Prevention.com
Many people who have diabetes or prediabetes don’t know it — the symptoms are so slight. And many of the symptoms can be shrugged off or related to other things.
It’s important to understand the symptoms because catching it early can prevent major damage done to your body .
Here are some key symptoms of diabetes.
If you have diabetes and it is not under control blurred vision is likely to occur.
According to Type2diabetes.com, when you have high blood sugar it can cause the lens of your eye to swell. When it swells it changes shape and makes it difficult for one or both of your eyes to focus.
Thankfully, if you get your blood sugar under control your vision should return to normal after approximately six weeks.
For more advanced diabetes, you may experience diabetic retinopathy.
This is caused by damaged blood vessels in the eyes. If it goes untreated it can cause blindness.
2. Increased Thirst and Frequent Urination
When we have too much sugar in our bloodstream we are making our kidneys work harder to filter the excess sugar.
So our kidneys are getting rid of the extra sugars through urine. While doing so they are taking fluids from other tissues which makes you dehydrated.
So you are going to the bathroom more because your kidneys are trying to flush out the sugar and you are drinking more fluids because you are dehydrated from the flushing of sugar.
Your thirst can not feel quenched because it is constantly flushing out the sugars and causing you to be dehydrated.
It is an ongoing cycle that can lead to much larger health issues if not controlled.
3. Numbness in Finger and Toes
High blood sugar affects the nerves. And most people will have some sort of neuropathy.
This can manifest itself through numbness in your hands, feet, legs, fingers, and toes. You will get a tingling sensation, numbness, and/or prickling sensation. Some have also described it as feeling as though you have a sock on your foot when you do not.
4. Other Symptoms
Other symptoms that you may experience are exhaustion, frequent yeast infections, and slow healing cuts or wounds.
Photo by Sara Bakhshi on Unsplash
The great news is that type 2 diabetes can be prevented!
Also, just because you are a type 2 prediabetic or diabetic doesn’t mean you have to stay diabetic!
Here are several ways you prevent or reverse Type 2 diabetes.
Diet & Exercise
You can check out healthy lifestyle choices in our last blog post here. All of the tips provided in the post are ways to help prevent and fight diabetes.
What we put into our bodies has a direct affect on how it functions. Diets full of unhealthy sugars and processed foods just enhances the chances of developing diabetes. Our bodies simply can not handle that much sugar.
Swapping out refined carbohydrates like bread, white rice, and cereals for complex carbohydrates like whole grains, brown rice, and steel oats can make a huge impact.
Many of us live a sedentary lifestyle and do not get enough daily activity. We can do little things each day to get exercise in. It does not take much.
It does not take much — walking for just 30 minutes every day can help decrease your chance of developing diabetes.
Every year you should be getting an annual physical, blood work, and eye exams.
These exams can help catch chronic conditions such as diabetes.
The earlier these conditions are caught the better chance you have of getting them under control and undoing damage that has been done.
Have A Direct Primary Care Internist
At Dimensions Direct Primary Care Dr. Sheila Chen is a board certified internist. She helps patients manage their chronic conditions through her direct primary care practice.
Direct Primary Care is healthcare without insurance. It is a true doctor patient relationship.
You have access to your doctor when you need them. You have a primary care physician who knows you.
Together with Dr. Chen you can develop a plan to get your health where you want it to be.
If you think you have prediabetes or diabetes, contact Dimensions Direct Primary Care. Dr. Chen will help you determine your next steps.
Why navigate aging and all that comes with it alone? Check out Dimensions Direct Primary care so that you get healthcare that works for you.