November is national diabetes awareness month, so now is a great time to ask why this matters and why screening is important.
So, why the awareness, and what exactly is diabetes?
In 2015, over 30 million American’s were living with diabetes, which was also the 7th leading cause of death in the United States [4,2]. The number of people diagnosed with diabetes is anticipated to continue growing, so providing awareness helps to shed light on the disease and the importance of screening.
Before we can understand the disease, let’s talk about blood sugar (also called blood glucose) and insulin. Every time you eat you are giving your body fuel so that it can perform all your favorite daily activities, just as filling your car with gas allows you to drive around to your favorite places. As your food gets broken down in your stomach, one of the important byproducts is blood sugar. Blood sugar is a vital component of energy for your body, but too much can cause major problems. This leads us to insulin. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that helps to lower our blood sugar when it gets too high.
There are two types of diabetes, and we will talk briefly about each. In short, type 1 diabetes is caused because the pancreas can’t make any insulin, which results in high blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes, however, is caused because the body is not sensitive to the effects of insulin anymore, which results in high blood sugar. The overwhelming majority of American’s have type II diabetes.
What are some of the risk factors for diabetes?
The following are some of the things that may put you at risk for developing diabetes 
- Having a family history of diabetes
- Being overweight or obese
- Being age 45 years or older
- Being of African American, Native Alaskan, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander
- Having high blood pressure
- Having high cholesterol
- Having a history of gestational diabetes
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Having polycystic ovary syndrome
What kinds of problems can diabetes cause?
The following are some of the problems that uncontrolled diabetes can cause :
- Limb Amputation
- Kidney Failure
- Vascular and Heart Disease
- Nerve Problems
- Delayed Wound Healing
So, diabetes can cause some major problems. Is it treatable? And what can I do to see if I am at risk?
The great news is YES! Diabetes can be treated and well controlled! The easiest and most important way to know if you are at risk for diabetes is to talk with your healthcare provider here at Cedar Park Pediatric and Family Medicine. As part of your annual wellness visit, we will look at your whole picture of health and screen you for diabetes by checking your fasting blood sugar. If you haven’t yet, take a moment today to advocate for your health by scheduling your annual wellness visit!
About the Author
Andrew Kester, FNP-C, is a certified Nurse Practitioner on the Family Medicine team at Cedar Park Pediatric & Family Medicine.
- Diabetes Mellitus: Screening and Diagnosis. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2016/0115/p103.html
- Leading Causes of Death. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm
- Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/risk-factors-type-2-diabetes
- Statistics About Diabetes. http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/?loc=db-slabnav