American Diabetes Association Alert Day, March 24

Published: March 17, 2015

According to the Centers for Disease Control, almost 26 million children and adults are living with diabetes. Of these, an estimated 19 million have been diagnosed, whereas seven million are unaware that they have the disease. About 79 million people have “pre-diabetes,” a condition in which blood sugar levels are abnormal but are not yet considered diabetic. With pre-diabetes, you have a greater risk not only for diabetes, but for heart attacks and strokes.

In diabetes, the blood does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is produced by the pancreas and is a hormone that is needed to allow glucose (sugar) to enter the cells and provide the energy necessary for daily activities.

There are three main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes develops most often in children and young adults. With type 1 the immune system destroys insulin producing cells of the pancreas. Type 2 diabetes can develop at any age and can largely be preventable. The cells of the body become resistant to insulin and the pancreas can’t produce enough insulin to override the resistance. Thirdly, gestational diabetes develops in women during pregnancy. The exact cause of diabetes is unknown, but factors such as obesity and lack of exercise play important roles in type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes can result in such conditions as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, nervous system disease (neuropathy), peripheral vascular disease, amputations, skin problems including ulcers and infections, and reduced muscle strength and physical function.

Signs and symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst, frequent urination, constant or extreme hunger, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, blurred vision, slow healing sores, high blood pressure, frequent infections such as gum or skin infections and vaginal or bladder infections.

Physical activity along with diet and medication, is a cornerstone of treatment for diabetes. Weight loss, physical activity and healthy eating are some of the best methods to prevent or care for diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least 5 days a week. Increased activity may even decrease the need for medications.

If you already have diabetes and are having difficulty with balance or moving due to numbness in your feet or hands, therapists can help improve your balance and your fine motor control. They may also make suggestions for footwear and/or adaptive equipment to help with fine motor control and teach you how to protect your numb feet.

The Outpatient and Home Health therapists at Passavant Community can help establish an individualized exercise program to help control your diabetes. They are available on an outpatient basis by calling (724) 452-3492 or via home health services at (877) 862-6659. 

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