Posted on 10/13/2017

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Are you at risk for diabetes?

Nearly 26 million people in the United States have diabetes, and almost 80 million more are at risk. You may not know you are at risk. Some symptoms of diabetes are not easy to notice, but include getting really tired, being really thirsty or having wounds that heal slowly.

Before getting diabetes, you might have pre-diabetes. This means you have too much sugar in your blood but not enough to be called diabetes. Being pre-diabetic makes you more likely to get diabetes and heart disease.

The good news is that diabetes can be prevented or delayed by keeping active and losing weight. Get tested if you’re at risk!

Do you have pre-diabetes?

A condition called pre-diabetes is an early warning that you may have diabetes in the future. In pre-diabetes, blood glucose (sugar) levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes. In many cases pre-diabetes eventually becomes diabetes.

The chances of developing pre-diabetes is high if you are:

  • African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander
  • overweight
  • physically inactive

Other risk factors for pre-diabetes include having:

  • a parent, brother or sister with diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • low HDL cholesterol and/or high triglycerides
  • diabetes when pregnant

Taking care of pre-diabetes early is a smarter and easier way to avoid the problems that can be caused by diabetes and heart disease. The first line of treatment health care providers recommend for pre-diabetes is making “healthy lifestyle” changes – eating less, being more active, and losing weight.

You can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by making small changes to your lifestyle:

  • Eat smaller portions of foods – use the plate method
  • Blood pressure (hypertension) screen
  • Make nutritious menu selections – include low calorie non-starchy vegetables
  • Increase daily physical activity – walk daily for 30 minutes
  • Small steps can make a big difference.

Diabetes Eye Care – 5 Steps to Protect Your Sight

You may have heard that diabetes causes eye problems and may lead to blindness. People with diabetes do have a higher risk of blindness than people without diabetes. But most people who have diabetes have nothing more than minor eye disorders.

With regular checkups, you can keep minor problems minor. And if you do develop a major problem, there are treatments that often work well if you begin them right away.

1. Manage your blood glucose.
Keeping your blood sugar at near-normal levels helps maintain your vision. Steady blood sugar control can slow damage to the tiny blood vessels in your eyes and prevents or delays the start of eye problems.

2. Manage your blood pressure.
Having blood pressure close to normal helps slow or prevent eye disease caused by diabetes. Taking your medications as prescribed will help bring your blood pressure down to a healthier level. A low-salt diet, a healthy weight and exercising, will help to keep it under control.

3. Get a “dilated” eye exam.
An eye doctor widens your pupils with special eye drops to look for early signs of damage to tiny eye blood vessels. Get a full eye exam every year, so problems can be found early and treated.

4. Warning signs.
Call your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Blurry, cloudy, or double vision
  • Flashing lights or rings around lights
  • Blank, dark, or floating spots in your vision
  • Pain, pressure, or constant redness in your eyes
  • Trouble seeing signs or straight lines
  • Trouble seeing out of the corner of your eye
  • Any sudden change in your vision

5. Quit smoking.
Smoking damages blood vessels and increases the chances of eye problems, even more so if you have diabetes.

Take action!
Lighthouse Guild provides a full spectrum of vision and healthcare services helping people who are blind or visually impaired. As part of our Medical Services, we offer diabetes care and endocrinology as well as other healthcare services important to people with diabetes. If you are a GuildNet member, talk with your Care Manager about the services available to you.