3 Diabetes Support Resources You Already Have

Run errands. Visit friends. Clean the house. Finish that report. Entertain the family. Fix the car. Stay late at work… There are incessant obligations in life. Some of them are urgent, some not so much.

But, even if you don’t want to admit it, your needs come first.

We all get only one body. One. If you neglect your body while having a serious health concern like diabetes, and you could soon feel the consequences, (some of which could prevent you from accomplishing any of that really important stuff you chose over your body in the first place, forcing you to pay attention to your needs).

It’s not selfish; it’s not weak to take care of your health before anything else. If you don’t do it, who will? How will anything else get done if you cannot muster up the strength and energy to complete your other tasks and goals? Being continuously wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of a fast-paced life can also cause us to make poor choices about our health, which isn’t a faux pas you can afford if you have to manage your blood sugar.

You know what they say: the hardest part is getting started. This where many diabetics get dazed and confused, uncertain of where to begin, but it is also the best time to get involved with others so you can stay responsible and accountable for your diabetes while having an actual life. The following three resources can help you get on track in no time, mostly because they are either very simple to incorporate into your life, or they are already present!

  1. Health Care Professionals

You likely already know that regular checkups with your primary care physician are necessary when you have diabetes (type 1, type 2, or gestational). Making sure everything is running smoothly with your blood sugar is a given, and your regular doctor can certainly do that, but visiting specialists is just as important- if not more. Due to the fact that diabetes can affect the nervous system and various organs, making appointments with an ophthalmologist/optometrist, dentist, and podiatrist can uncover any eye problems, dental ailments, and foot or toe concerns which affect diabetics at disproportionately higher rates due to the nature of the disease.

Neurologists, endocrinologists, dermatologists, and other specialists can help identify, prevent, and determine the best course of treatments for any issues related to nerve damage, hormonal imbalances, and skin diseases related to diabetes.

Don’t have a designated specialist who you can call in a hurry? Primary care physicians will provide patients with referrals to specialists upon request, and your local hospital should have a diabetes support group or education sessions led by health care pros who also double as diabetes educators. The worst possible thing you can do is wait for the feeling ‘to pass’ or make excuses that you don’t actually need to see a doctor because the pain suddenly disappeared… Many diabetics suffer from neuropathy, nerve damage which can either abnormally impair or increase the sensation of pain. Just because you don’t feel pain anymore, does not mean it was insignificant and simply disappeared. If you feel something is amiss within your body, please make an appointment right away.

  1. Community

Communities are often an underused resource. Believe it or not, there are plenty of others- possibly even neighbors- who have diabetes and want to learn how to connect with other diabetics, better coping strategies, advice, and to just enjoy some time among people dealing with the exact same concerns.

From organized walks, cycling events, meetup groups, school fundraisers, you name it, it exists. If you live in a more rural area and cannot find a group of the sort, consider partnering up with a trusted supporter or courageously going solo and spearheading your own support group. Discussing how to deal, recipe swaps, fitness activities, personal stories and is very psychologically healthy, inspiring and empowering to those who may feel too shy, isolated, or discouraged to initiate things on their own.

You might be thinking, “I don’t know anyone [else] with diabetes! Who would want to learn about something that doesn’t affect them? Well, consider this: Over 1 in 3 people have prediabetes- a key indicator of future diabetes diagnosis if left untreated and unmanaged- with 90% of those also unaware of their condition. 1 out of 11 people have diabetes, with 25% of those not even knowing they are diabetic. Chances are, you do know someone who either has diabetes, or a high chance to develop it. Either way, getting the word out is important to managing or stopping this disease in its tracks.

So, when we say, “you’re not alone”, this is not a cliché, we really mean it!

  1. Friends & Family

Whether you come home to relax and discuss your day with any family members, your home is where you rest and unpack most of your burdens. Not everyone likes to divulge all their feelings, aches and pains to their friends and family, and that’s ok, but for many, they are still valuable resources of support and acceptance.

Getting into a routine will require some mutual understandings or maybe even assistance from your friends and family. Perhaps it’s asking your daughter to remind you to check your blood sugar daily, suggesting adding salad into your weekly grocery list, asking the kids for a certain hour of quiet time so you can rest, telling your friends you’ll be the designated driver since you are cutting back on alcohol anyway, or meeting your best friend for an early Saturday morning workout. There are countless simplistic ways to get your family and friends on board and more engaged with helping you manage your diabetes. They care for you, and nothing done in the name of love is an inconvenience.

    Points to Remember…

These resources are for support- not substitution of good self-care habits. Eating healthy, exercising, checking glucose levels, sleeping properly, receiving health examinations, and, most importantly, remembering to take some ‘me-time’ are vital to reining in diabetes to avoid any complications later. It is hard work, and it can take time to develop a routine that works for your lifestyle, but it’s entirely attainable! Use these three resources and you’ll be on your way to a better diabetes routine in no time.

Want to learn more about these resource types or wish to expand your options for support? Join us at our 2015 Diabetes Expo in Houston on October 17th! Live cooking demonstrations, free health screenings, celebrity guests, child-friendly activities, and more await you, so please sign up today! If you have more immediate questions you would like answered, please visit the American Diabetes Association’s Center for Information here.

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Can You Have a Life With Diabetes?

The doctor just broke the news. It’s official, you have diabetes.
Your thoughts are racing…

How did I get this?
Is this serious?
Oh no, I will never be able to enjoy my life again.

At this point, it’s normal to be confused, fearful, upset, anxious, or even angry. No matter the type of diabetes, some of the most-reported concerns by people with such a diagnosis include feeling powerless to control it, or becoming overwhelmed at the seemingly monumental lifestyle changes they must now adopt.

The more you learn about the disease, the more you’ll realize it doesn’t have to resign you to a life of eating rabbit food everyday and never going anywhere fun. Yes, you can actually have a life with diabetes!

Diabetes is serious and shouldn’t be taken lightly, however, it most certainly is not a death sentence. Having a full and pleasurable life with diabetes is totally possible, and you can enjoy many of your favorite activities and meals. Keep in mind that it is a disease which requires everyday management and even emergency planning. Don’t get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life so intensely that you forget to care for your body first and foremost. Here at the American Diabetes Association of Houston, we are well aware just how fast-paced life can be here in the South’s largest city If you’re not sure where or how to start incorporating diabetes care into your life (whether at home or traveling), we’ve got just the advice you need to get started!

 

Living with Diabetes Infographic

Managing type 1 or type 2 diabetes doesn’t have to drive you crazy. Here are some surefire ways to streamline and organize the process of caring for diabetes whether you’re at home or on the go!

 

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Emotions and Diabetes: A Cycle of Influence.

Diabetics are at double the risk for developing depression, and an emotional phenomena called diabetes distress is unique among type 1 and type 2 diabetics of all ages and racial/ethnic backgrounds.

Worries over risk factors, diet changes, health care costs, complications, and high or low blood glucose levels can all be loaded sources of stress and sadness for patients and their families. These anxieties can make stress and complications worse, while the complications themselves can increase depression or distress.

For these reasons, it is critical to seek help with how you’re feeling by reaching out to your doctor or local hospital. Physicians and hospitals often have connections to or even host diabetic support resources you can take advantage of to help manage the emotions that can coincide with a diagnosis or simply dealing with diabetes every day.

If you or someone you know feel this way and think you’re alone, or don’t think depression and stress is that serious a problem for diabetics, here are some things to keep in mind.

Diabetes_and_Depression

A glance at emotional costs of diabetes, such as depression, and its cycle of influence within the disease

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Houston, We Have a Problem- With Diabetes

Houston has great medical care options. Is diabetes a real problem here?

Houston, Texas is the largest city in the Southern U.S., and the fourth most populous city in the country, so when mayor Annise D. Parker notes that diabetes is a public health concern for the city, she means business. Compared to 8% statewide, 11% of the adult population in Houston has diabetes, and 32% suffer from obesity- a significant risk factor developing type 2 diabetes. 5-10% of the total population suffers from the autoimmune-based type 1 diabetes, most often diagnosed in childhood or young adulthood.

Diabetes mellitus is a group of diseases that affect the body’s insulin needed to metabolize the glucose in dietary carbohydrates. After a meal, sugars are converted to glucose in the body. Glucose can only be used for energy once the cells of the pancreas release a hormone it creates called insulin. This video below from the Mayo Clinic explains how insulin is related to diabetes

Although Houston has the largest medical center in the world, diabetes is a growing problem- one which we need to be prepared to collectively fight tooth-and-nail with education and awareness. Physicians, nutritionists, and specialists can only help when people decide to take control of their health. Becoming familiar with the initial signs is key to combating the disease and the negative hurdles that accompany it.
Do you recognize the various manifestations of diabetes and their common symptoms in anyone you know?

 

Type 1 Diabetes

Once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition when the body produces little to no insulin. Insulin is needed in order to convert sugar into energy for the cells. This condition accounts for only 5% of the diagnoses of the disease. Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age and affects both men and women equally.

Risk factors for type 1 diabetes include autoimmune, genetic, and environmental factors. Those who have family members who have type 1 diabetes have a slightly increased risk of developing the condition. Although this condition can appear at any time, it usually appears between the ages of 4 and 7 years old and 10 and 14 years old. Other risk factors that have been investigated (though not proven) include exposure to certain viruses, such as Coxsackie virus and mumps virus. Low vitamin D levels and early exposure to cow’s milk can also be risk factors for type 1 diabetes.

 

Symptoms

Complications

  • Frequent urination
Increased risk for heart and blood vessel disease, including coronary artery disease
  • Excessive thirst
Nerve damage (neuropathy)
  • Unexplained weight loss
Kidney damage (nephropathy)
  • Extreme hunger
Eye damage, leading to risk of cataracts, glaucoma, and potential blindness
  • Irritability and other mood changes
Foot complications due to poor blood flow or untreated cut and blisters
  • Sudden vision changes (blurred vision)
Skin and mouth conditions, such has bacterial and fungal infections
  • Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
Pregnancy complications (risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and birth defects increase when diabetes isn’t controlled)
  • Fatigue and weakness
Diabetic ketoacidosis- a serious condition where the body’s insulin levels are too low to use glucose as an energy source so it starts burning fat as an alternative.
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • In females, a vaginal yeast infection
  • Bedwetting in children who previously did not wet the bed at night

 

Treatments:

There is no cure for type 1 diabetes, but it can be managed and controlled. Physical activity, healthy eating, and insulin injections are basic therapies for Type 1 Diabetes. Aim to include 30 minutes of physical activity 3-5 days per week. Carbohydrate counting and following the plate method are also key factors when eating healthy. The amount of insulin that is taken must equal the amount of food and physical activity a person exerts. There are two types of insulin: rapid-acting insulin and long-acting insulin. Usually, a diabetic who takes shots will receive both rapid-acting and long-acting insulin. A diabetic using an insulin pump will use the rapid-acting insulin. Blood sugar levels should be monitored very closely, at least up to four times per day.

 

Pre-diabetes

Think of pre-diabetes as a warning sign from your body that something isn’t quite right. In those with the disorder, blood glucose levels are higher than normal but do not meet the standards at which diabetes is conclusively diagnosed. Tests to determine pre-diabetes are the same that can also detect type 2 diabetes.

 

Type II Diabetes

Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes is not considered insulin-dependent and accounts for most of the diagnoses of the disease (an estimated 90% to 95%). This condition can develop at any age and is marked by either progressive declines of insulin secretion, or the body’s inadequate usage of glucose due to its resistance to insulin.

Certain things can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, the most common of which are often-preventable lifestyle factors such as obesity, untreated sleep disorders, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol and/or triglyceride levels. Other risk factors may be less controllable. For instance, minorities are particularly susceptible to type 2 diabetes and some of its associated risk factors, with increased incidences among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, African-Americans, Native Americans, and Latino or Hispanic Americans.

 

Symptoms

Complications

Feeling thirsty Heart disease and stroke risks can double.
Frequent urination Eye problems (including glaucoma and blindness).
Feeling very hungry Hypoglycemia, or when blood sugar is under 70 mg/dL.
Headaches Hyperglycemia, or when blood sugar peaks above
Fatigue, tiredness Nerve damage, decreased circulation
Unexplained weight loss Digestive problems
Blurry vision Recurrent episodes of hypoglycemia can increase the risk for dementia
Infections (like urinary tract infections, yeast infections) Kidney damage leading to dialysis or needing a transplant
Tingling, a pins-and-needles sensation, or loss of feeling in feet Diabetic ketoacidosis- a serious condition where the body’s insulin levels are too low to use glucose as an energy source so it starts burning fat as an alternative.
Itchy, dry skin Painful infections and sores
Sexual dysfunction (in both men and women)
Slow healing of cuts or sores

 

Treatment

There is no cure for type 2 diabetes, but the fact that serious complications and deaths related to the disease have declined sharply while diagnoses have increased shows how very successfully it can be managed.

However, that doesn’t mean you should put off seeing a doctor; diabetes should be treated as soon as possible, and maintaining health on a daily basis is vital at every age since blood sugar control can prevent damage from complications. Stay physically active; work with your physician to determine which medications are ideal for your body and lifestyle and any conditions you may already have.

Nutrition is also extremely important, so if you’re having trouble figuring out what to eat either at home or on the go, we’ve got a great resource that allows you to explore your options without worrying!

 

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes refers to hormonal changes of pregnancy that affect how insulin works. Women without a previous history of high blood sugar who develop it during pregnancy are considered to have gestational diabetes, and tests are usually conducted between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy.

Some of the risks for developing gestational diabetes are shared with the risk for type 2 diabetes. The primary risk for gestational diabetes is, obviously, pregnancy- but having already birthed a baby weighing over 9 pounds can also increase the chances of developing the disease. Having gestational diabetes also increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life as well.

Treatment

Fortunately, gestational diabetes often goes away after pregnancy, but it is still extremely important to manage blood sugar levels as certain risks are posed to the mother and the baby after birth. Physical activity, good nutrition and weight management are some preventative measures women can take prior to and during a pregnancy, especially for those with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

 

Diabetes Insipidus

Not to be confused with diabetes mellitus, diabetes insipidus is an uncommon disease in which a person urinates an unusual amount- so much that they become dehydrated very quickly. Other adverse effects can also follow, including strong thirst, bedwetting, and sleep disruption due to such frequent urination. Fever, vomiting, diarrhea can be present in children with the disease as well.

Treatment

There are several forms of diabetes insipidus, most of which are treatable with medication. Its symptoms can appear vary similar to type 1 and type 2 diabetes, but it isn’t related to either disease. Diabetes insipidus is often not serious enough to be life-threatening, but can certainly interfere with daily life and possibly cause embarrassment in certain situations.

 

If you suspect diabetes, get tested!

There are a variety of tests to determine if you or someone you know has diabetes. The most commonly used test for diagnosing prediabetes, type 1 or type 2 diabetes is the A1C test. The A1C test, (a.k.a the glycated hemoglobin test) does not require fasting, and is therefore often more convenient to use. For more in-depth information on testing can be found here.

 

A1C Test Types of Diabetes Indicated
≥ 6.5% = Diabetes

5.7 – 6.4% = Pre-diabetes while

< 5.7% = Normal

Pre-diabetes, Type 1, Type 2
Fasting blood sugar tests
Require a blood sample taken after an overnight fast.

< 100 mg/dL= Normal

100 -125 mg/dL = Pre-diabetes

≥ 126 mg/dL on two separate tests= Diabetes

Pre-diabetes, Type 1, Type 2
Oral glucose tolerance test Pre-diabetes, Type 1, Type 2
Overnight fasting is required. After drinking a sugary liquid, glucose levels are tested over the next two hours and the fasting blood glucose level is measured.

< 140 mg/dL = Normal

Between 140 and 199 mg/dL = Pre-diabetes

≥ 200 mg/dL= Diabetes

Initial glucose challenge test Gestational diabetes
After an 8-hour fast and drinking a sugary liquid, your glucose level will be tested after one hour.

< 140 mg/dL = Normal

If your blood sugar level is higher than 140 mg/dL, it indicates a higher risk of gestational diabetes. Your doctor will order a follow-up test to determine if you have gestational diabetes.

Urinalysis Diabetes Insipidus
Examination of the urine can measure the concentration of salt and other wastes- which will be diluted in comparison to the volume of liquid in those with excessive urination.
Fluid deprivation test
Helps doctors better understand the type of diabetes insipidus a person has by determining the cause. It measures fluctuations in one’s weight, urine production and chemical composition of urine when deprived of drinking fluids.

 

What are you waiting for?

Diabetes is no joke, but it can definitely be handled so it doesn’t put limits on life’s pleasures. But it’s easy to ignore the signs and attribute them to something minor, so don’t procrastinate if any of these symptoms give you pause.

If you suspect you or someone close to you may have any of the various types of diabetes, it’s a good idea to contact a doctor and get tested. There are tests, treatment, lifestyle and support resources to help cope with diabetes in all its forms- but knowing is half the battle!

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June is National Employee Wellness Month

Support health and wellness at your company with these American Diabetes Association resources.

  • If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our new initiative Wellness Lives Here. Your company can be recognized for its wellness efforts with the new Health Champion Designation. You can access healthy living resources and learn about other resources.
  • The enews article of the month highlights june-stay-healthy-at-work.
  • Stay cool this summer with June’s recipe Watermelon Patch Smoothie. SD@W employees will receive 20% off the cookbook from which this recipe came. Details are on the recipe.
  • Stop Diabetes @ Work has several other resources to promote wellness in the workplace. Make sure you visit the Stop Diabetes @ Work employer portal to download free materials.
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6 Ways to Stay Healthy at Work

Most of us spend more than eight hours, or a third of our time, each day at work. How you spend this time can make a big difference in your health.

Here are 6 ways to boost your health and fitness at work:

  • Brown bag it: Eating healthy is one of the most important contributors to your overall health, but it can be a challenge if your lunchtime options are restricted to local fast food restaurants or vending machines. Plan to bring a healthy lunch several times a week to control your calories and save some cash. Don’t forget to include some healthy snacks like cut-up fruits and vegetables or pretzels to ward off those afternoon munchies.
  • Make your pitch-ins healthy: Don’t let your healthy diet be derailed by donuts! Get together with your work crew or office mates and make a pact to bring only healthy foods to the office to share. Bonus: Your office will be remembered as the one that has a bowl of yummy green grapes on the reception desk instead of candy.
  • Take it outside: June brings some of the best weather to many parts of the country, so use this excuse to get outside. Coordinate lunchtime group walks or sports demonstrations like a golf “tune-up” session. If you work on a multi-building campus, use the nice weather as an excuse to walk from building to building rather than relying on inter-office mail.
  • Change your culture: It’s easier to stay healthy in an environment that supports healthy behavior. Talk to your boss or your wellness coordinator about changing your workplace to help you make healthy choices. Your office could include more fresh foods in the vending areas or cafeterias or start a lunchtime walking club or “steps” competition. Your office could encourage healthy behaviors like taking the stairs, walking to visit an employee instead of emailing, and allowing extra time after a lunch break for employees to change their shoes and freshen up after a stroll outside.
  • Step Out: Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes is a fun, healthy event that brings co-workers and their families together outside the office to help the American Diabetes Association Stop Diabetes. Invite employees, company vendors, employees’ families, friends and neighbors to join your team.
  • Take the Tour: The Tour de Cure is a series of fundraising cycling events held in 44 states nationwide to benefit the American Diabetes Association. The Tour is a ride, not a race, with routes designed for everyone from the occasional rider to the experienced cyclist. Form a team with your fellow riders from work and enjoy the camaraderie of both training and participating in the ride.

 

For more information, visit www.diabetes.org/INSERTVANITYURLHERE or call 1-800-DIABETES.

 

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American Diabetes Association EXPO in Houston!

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Learn how to be healthy, active and live well with diabetes.
• Free health screenings
• Cooking demonstrations
• Product exhibits and presentations on diabetes prevention and management
• Information and activities geared towards kids, teens and parents American Diabetes Association EXPO in Houston!
For more information, call 1 888 DIABETES EXT. 6093, or visitdiabetes.org/houstonexpo. NRG Center, Hall B One NRG Park Houston, TX 77054 October 17, 2015 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM Contact : Mary Baumann Email:MBaumann@diabetes.org
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