More than one in four adults, age 65 and older in the United States, how have diabetes. The incidence is even higher among Native Americans. According to the 2009 data from I.H.S., 14.2% of Native Americans aged 20 years old, or older, who have received care from I.H.S., or one in seven, had diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes in children and adolescents are increasingly prevalent as well. Diabetes is a serious chronic disease. Even when symptoms are not present, high blood glucose does damage to the body. This leads to heart attacks, strokes, amputation, blindness, kidney failure, nerve damage and dental disease. The good news is that with treatment, diabetes complications can be prevented or delayed by controlling blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. Lifestyle changes, like healthy eating, being physically active and quitting smoking can also help lower the risk of diabetes complications. For those at risk of diabetes, weight management, exercise and healthy nutrition may be able to prevent, or delay the onset of diabetes.
If you, or someone you love has diabetes, these are some ways to help control it. Here are some important steps you can take to control diabetes:
- Talk to you doctor or diabetes educator about how to manage your blood sugar level, your blood pressure, and your cholesterol levels
- Check your blood glucose often and keep track of your readings
- See your health care provider regularly if you have diabetes or if you are at risk for diabetes
- Remember to take medications exactly as they were prescribed for diabetes, cholesterol, and blood pressure
- Stay active. Ask your health care provider about an exercise program that is safe for you
- Stop or don’t start smoking or using any kind of tobacco
- Get a flu shot – Having diabetes means you are more likely to get sick and you may have more complications from flu or pneumonia than someone who doesn’t have diabetes. If you or someone in your family has Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, it is very important to get a flu shot every year. The CDC recommends that every person six months and older get a flu shot. Also, ask your medical provider if you should get a pneumonia shot.
- Get your own meter and lancet device to check your blood glucose. You should see your diabetes educator for a meter and equipment. Using someone else’s blood glucose equipment puts you at risk for serious infections like HIV or Hepatitis which are transmitted through blood.
- Stay at a weight that is healthy for you
- Make sure you are physically active. Physical activity can help control your weight, blood sugar, and blood pressure, as well as raise your “good” cholesterol and lower your “bad” cholesterol. Activities like walking, gardening, dancing, jogging, or jumping rope at least 150 minutes per week, also do some resistance type of activity to make your muscles stronger.
- Eat a well balanced diet with at least five servings of vegetables and fruit daily, avoid sugary drinks
For more information or to meet with the diabetes educator contact