Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

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November 21, 2012

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month

Greensburg — With Thanksgiving offering plenty of delectable temptations in celebration of the holidays, the month of November serves as a reminder that diabetes requires part of the population to keep their eating in check.

According to RNs Melinda Raab and Jenny Simon in the nutrition department of Decatur County Memorial Hospital (DCMH), being a diabetic doesn’t mean all typically “unhealthy” food options are closed. All foods have nutrients which are vital to healthy eating. Being diabetic simply means certain elements of food have to be monitored closely.

Portion control is an everyday part of diabetes management. If a diabetic wants a slice of pie, for example, he or she may have to give up bread or pasta for that meal to account for the sugar.

In addition to meal plans, properly distributing medication, and 150 to 200 minutes of exercise per week are necessary for healthy diabetic living. Exercise is imperative, according to the RNs, to not only help with strength, but also blood flow. Losing weight will also lower blood sugar.

The evolution of medications have also helped with management of the disease. In the past, a patient’s options were essentially insulin or nothing. Now many medications have been developed to account for different kinds of bodies and allergies. The DCMH RNs also stressed the importance of receiving flu and pneumonia vaccines.

There are two types of diabetes.

Type one diabetes is when the pancreas does not make any insulin. Type one is prominent in children, though an adult may develop type one later in life. The inherent cause of type one is unknown, though some medical professionals believe it may be linked to genetics.

Type two diabetes is when the pancreas may create insulin, but the body does not respond to insulin the way it should.

Type two diabetes is primarily caused by obesity, according to the RNs, and it accounts for the vast majority of diabetics. The plethora of type two diabetics can, in part, be attributed to the rise of obesity in the United States, according to the RNs.

DCMH recieves anywhere from eight to 20 new type two diabetic patients a month, the majority of whom are overweight.

There is no cure for diabetes, said the RNs, though some type two diabetics may help themselves by receiving gastric bypass, or other extreme surgeries to help with weight loss. However, once a person is diagnosed with diabetes, they are always considered a diabetic.

Why is insulin so important?

Insulin breaks down a sugar called glucose, allowing the body to absorb the energy from glucose. Insulin is created by the pancreas. When the pancreas does not create insulin, the body’s sugar levels go haywire and lead to a number of longterm problems.

Being diabetic can lead to stroke, heart attack, nerve damage, kidney problems, increased susceptibility to infection, and eye disease. All of these symptoms are the result of poor blood flow. A diabetic who does not properly manage himself or herself may also experience seizures, severe mood swings and erratic behavior.

The tests non-diabetics are familiar with are hemoglobin tests which help identify hyper or hypoglycemia (high and low blood sugar levels). Someone with high blood sugar may feel extremely thirsty, the extreme need to urinate, increased tiredness and blurred vision.

Someone with low blood sugar may experience sweating or cold, clammy skin, dizziness, shakiness or tingling, a hard, fast heartbeat or headache, confusion or irritability.

If someone feels they may be diabetic, or are at a risk for diabetes, the first step to take is to visit a doctor. As helpful as a Google search may be, internet sites such as the popular WebMD are not nearly as accurate as an actual doctor.

Contact: Tess Rowing 812-663-3111 x7004

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