Whitesburg KY

Helping guard against diabetes is gift to yourself

Imagine contracting a disease that could affect many of your vital organs. This disease could end up causing you to go blind or force you to have your feet and legs amputated. What if you learned that you alone could have prevented or delayed the disease? The reality is that Type 2 diabetes has become a health epidemic in the U.S. and Kentucky, and we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Diabetes is one of the most common and serious chronic diseases in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that while the rate of new diabetes cases has begun to decline, more than 29 million Americans have diabetes and another 86 million are prediabetic. And 90 percent of pre-diabetics don’t even know it.

Mississippi leads the nation in diabetes cases at 14.7 percent, but Kentucky is not far behind at 13.4 percent, ranking fourth among all U.S. states. While lower than the state percentage, Kentucky Health Facts reports, 10 percent of Nelson County’s adult population is living with diabetes.

There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes causes people to naturally not produce enough insulin and is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. Then there is Type 2 diabetes, where the body can‘t process insulin properly. Type 2 diabetes is more prevalent and accounts for more than 90 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.

Risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include being overweight, being 45 years of age or older, having a family history of Type 2 diabetes and being physically active less than three times a week. For women, having gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds can be a risk factor. Race and ethnicity can also increase risk factors.

The CDC projects that by the year 2050, one in three adults could have diabetes — with seniors, ages 65 and older, being the largest segment of the population with the disease. But the good news is that diabetes is controllable and, in some cases, preventable. The key is learning about important treatment and lifestyle changes early, such as increasing physical activity, changing eating habits, tracking blood sugar and taking proper medications.

It’s important for everyone to delay and or prevent diabetes to minimize some of the serious problems that are caused by high blood sugar. Diabetes complications and related conditions can be very serious. They include heart disease and strokes, blindness and eye problems, kidney disease and amputations, particularly in the feet and legs. And the cost from dealing with the disease and complications is enormous.

The good news is new cases of diabetes are starting to decrease. Experts credit people getting more exercise and eating healthier, along with an increased awareness of diabetes. So give yourself the gift of good health by making many simple lifestyle changes. Preventing or delaying Type 2 diabetes doesn’t require a prescription or surgery; it only depends on you and your choices.

— The Kentucky Standard, Bardstown

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