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Guest Commentary | Diabetes: what should I know?

By LAURA CROSS - Certified diabetes care and education specialist with Lee Health | Nov 9, 2023

Laura Cross

More than 37 million adults and children in the United States have diabetes and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 8.5 million of these Americans do not know they have it.

If someone has diabetes, it means their body does not make enough insulin or cannot use it as well as it should, resulting in too much blood sugar or glucose in the bloodstream. Over time, consistent elevated blood sugar levels can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, vision loss, nerve damage, issues with the feet and kidney disease.

The CDC also says it is estimated that 96 million adults have prediabetes, 80% of whom do not know they have it.

How Do I Know If I Have Diabetes?

Many people do not notice any symptoms. If you feel very thirsty, are urinating more often than usual, have blurry vision, feel tired and/or have sores that are slow to heal, please see your doctor and consider getting tested for diabetes.

Your physician may order one or more of the following tests to find out if you have diabetes:

• A1C blood test

• Fasting Blood Glucose

• Glucose Tolerance Test

Free Informational Events This Month

These events will provide information on adopting and maintaining healthy habits as well as knowing your risk and what to do to support prevention, early diagnosis, and timely treatment. These events will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• Monday, Nov. 13, in the Cape Coral Hospital auxiliary room, 636 Del Prado Blvd., S., Cape Coral

• Tuesday, Nov. 14, at the Lee Memorial Hospital medical staff conference room, 2776 Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers

• Wednesday, Nov. 15, in the Gulf Coast Medical Center main atrium, 13681 Doctors Way, Fort Myers

• Thursday, Nov. 16, in the HealthPark Medical Center main atrium, 9981 S. HealthPark Drive, Fort Myers

What are the Main Types of Diabetes?

There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2 and gestational.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder which leads to the pancreas making very little, if any insulin.

Type 2 diabetes usually develops over a long period of time without being noticed. It is a chronic health condition that happens when the cells of the body are not responding to insulin like they should, and the pancreas will often make high levels of insulin to overcompensate. It’s important to see a doctor if you have any symptoms.

Gestational diabetes (GDM) is a type of diabetes that occurs only in pregnancy and usually resolves after the birth of the baby.

What is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. The long-lasting lifestyle adjustments you make in the diabetes prevention program will help to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.

How Do I Manage Diabetes?

If you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes or diabetes, these are common conditions and there is plenty of support available. With proper management, you can lead a healthy lifestyle.

Lee Health’s certified diabetes care and education specialists offer three educational programs: Diabetes Prevention, Diabetes Self-Management, and Pregnancy and Diabetes.

• Diabetes Prevention: For people diagnosed with prediabetes

• Diabetes Self-Management: For people diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes

• Pregnancy and Diabetes: For women who have diabetes and become pregnant or are diagnosed with gestational diabetes

Courses are offered in the mornings, afternoons and evenings. One-on-one appointments are also available. Diabetes education is a covered benefit for Medicare and most commercial insurances. Call 239-424-3127 to register for the program that fits your needs. To learn more please visit: leehealth.org/our-services or contact our office at 239-424-3127.

Laura Cross is a certified diabetes care and education specialist with Lee Health. For more information, visit leehealth.org.