Diabetes: Types, prevention and care tips

Due to greater risks, African-Americans above the age of 45 are encouraged to get annual screenings for diabetes.

With nearly one out of every four people with diabetes not knowing they have the disease, it’s important to be screened routinely and know the warning signs.

The American Diabetes Association recommends screening for diabetes every three years in adults age 45 and older who do not have prediabetes or other risk factors. But African-Americans are a high-risk ethnic group that need to be screened more often and sooner as they are nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes as non-Hispanic whites. African-Americans are also more likely to suffer serious complications from diabetes such as blindness, kidney disease and lower extremity amputations. In fact, one in four African-American women over age 55 has diabetes.

Diabetes affects the way people digest food for energy. Normally, the pancreas releases insulin, a hormone that helps sugar in the blood get into cells to give energy. Insulin controls the amount of sugar in the blood. When a person has diabetes, pancreas makes no insulin or less insulin than normal, cells do not respond to insulin properly and the liver makes too much sugar in the blood at the wrong time. Over time, high blood sugar levels can lead to serious health problems like vision loss, heart attack, stroke, nerve damage, memory and learning problems and gum and kidney disease.

Types and treatment

Type 1 diabetes happens more often in children than adults but can develop at any age. The pancreas cannot make insulin, so insulin needs to be taken every day to control blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form in adults and most need to take diabetes pills or non-insulin injectable medications, or both. Many eventually may need to take insulin when the pancreas can no longer make enough insulin to support healthy blood sugar levels.

Prediabetes results when the blood sugar is high but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. More than one in three Americans have prediabetes and 90 percent don’t know it.

Gestational diabetes occurs in women who have not been diagnosed with diabetes prior to being pregnant. Typically, it goes away after the baby is born but it does increase the risk for type 2 diabetes for a woman and her baby later in life.

Healthy habits are key.

While there is not a cure for diabetes, it is treatable and people with diabetes can live long and healthy lives. A well-balanced food plan, healthy weight and regular physical activity are essential to managing, and in some cases, preventing diabetes.

Food choices matter a lot when one has diabetes. Starches (bread, cereal, pasta, rice) and sugars (fruit, milk, table sugar, honey, syrup) contain carbohydrate. Avoiding an excess amount of carbohydrate is critical to controlling blood sugar levels and avoiding blood sugar levels from rising too high.

Complete diabetes care

North Memorial Health is a pioneer in diabetes care offering comprehensive, personalized guidance including nutrition counseling, insulin management and glucose monitoring along with prediabetes group classes and an adult diabetes support group. Learn more at northmemorial.com or call (763) 581-CARE to schedule an appointment.

Diabetes symptoms can be subtle but pay attention to these common symptoms.

* Urinating often

* Extreme thirst and/or hunger – especially after eating

* Tiredness

* Blurred vision

* Headaches

* Cuts or sores that do not heal

* Unexplained weight loss

* Numbness or tingling in your hands or feet

* Dry, itchy skin

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