You and Your Risk of Diabetes – Tips to Stay Healthy
November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. As of 2018, over 34 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes and over 88 million have been diagnosed with prediabetes. At AxessPointe, we want to help you learn more about your diabetes diagnosis and promote lifestyle changes that can help prevent and manage diabetes in children and adults.
Types of Diabetes
Diabetes can be classified as type 1, type 2 and gestational (diagnosed in pregnant women). Type 1 may be caused by an autoimmune disorder that prevents your body from making insulin. It is, unfortunately, not preventable and is normally diagnosed in children to young adults.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common in the US, with 90%-95% of diabetes cases being type 2. This type is diagnosed more in adults as it develops over time and is believed to be caused by genetics, low physical activity and being overweight. Prediabetes, which can happen slowly, is seen in patients with higher-than-normal blood sugar levels, but not high enough to yet be diagnosed as type 2.
Managing Diabetes in Youth
Type 1 and type 2 cases have significantly increased in children ages 10 to 19 years old, with 193,000 children affected in the US.
Managing diabetes in children can be stressful for both the child and the parent. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), there are things you can do to safely manage your child’s health while still allowing them to live a normal lifestyle:
Keep an eye on blood glucose levels – The most important thing you can do is ensure that your child is following their care plan set in place by their doctor. Make sure they are taking their medicine as prescribed, even if they are feeling fine and are monitoring their levels regularly.
Keep them active and healthy – Ask your child’s doctor for healthy diet recommendations, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Physical activity is critical, as well!
Observe your child’s overall health – Diabetes can come with other health risks and complications. Take note if your child complains about vision problems, skin irritations or rashes, limb numbness and any other issues.
Create a Care Kit – Allowing your child to live a normal lifestyle is important but having an emergency kit available wherever they are can help ease your mind. Be sure to include all medications as well as dosing information, an emergency contact list, and enough medical supplies.
Monitor your child’s emotional health – There are groups created for youth dealing with diabetes and it may help your child to speak to other children their age about what they are going through. Ask your child’s doctor for support resources in your area.
Preventing Type 2 Diabetes in Adults and Children
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type and, as we mentioned, it is preventable. Whether you’ve already been diagnosed with prediabetes or you have type 2 diabetes in your genetic history, there are ways you can take control of your health and prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Three ways to help prevent type 2 diabetes are:
- Lose weight. Your doctor may recommend shedding some excess weight to aid in prevention. By losing 5%-7% of your starting weight, you could stop or slow the process of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
- Increase physical activity. The NIDDK recommends at least 30 minutes of activity five days a week. If that seems like a lot for your body to handle, start small and work up to it. Even a 10-minute walk three days a week is better than no exercise at all. Work with your doctor to set small goals for yourself.
- Incorporate more healthy foods into your diet. Consider increasing your portions of vegetables and decreasing your portions of high-calorie foods during mealtime. Simple swaps like water instead of soda or whole grains rather than white rice can make all the difference!
By making small lifestyle changes you can have a huge impact on your overall health and the prevention of type 2 diabetes. Allow yourself to make the changes gradually and do what works for your lifestyle.
Our care team at AxessPointe can help you create a plan to prevent or manage your diabetes diagnosis. If you or your child have been diagnosed with diabetes, we’re here to help. Please contact us with questions about your care or for more information at 888-975-9188 or visit axesspointe.org.
American Diabetes Association
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases