Guest column

Are you at risk of developing diabetes?

By Jill O’Donnell
Posted 12/6/19

One in three American adults has prediabetes. That’s more than 84 million people, which means it could be you, your favorite brother, your other brother, your karaoke partner, your karaoke …

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Guest column

Are you at risk of developing diabetes?

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One in three American adults has prediabetes. That’s more than 84 million people, which means it could be you, your favorite brother, your other brother, your karaoke partner, your karaoke rival, or your … well, you get the picture.

How do you know if you have prediabetes? There are no clear symptoms of prediabetes, so you may have it and not know it. 

Simple yearly wellness screening blood work can give you an early indicator of elevated blood glucose (sugar) levels. Review your wellness labs and look for these test results:

If your labs fall within the range of any of these values — you have prediabetes.

 

So what is prediabetes?

Prediabetes means a person’s blood glucose (sugar) level is higher than normal, but not high enough yet for a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. Left untreated it may progress to Type 2 diabetes; however, this does not happen automatically. For some people with prediabetes, early treatment can actually return blood glucose levels to normal range.

Research shows that you can lower your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 58 percent by: 

• Losing 7 percent of your body weight (about 15 lbs if you weigh 200 pounds). 

• Exercising moderately (walking briskly) 30 minutes per day.

Don’t worry if you can’t get to your ideal body weight. Losing 10-15 pounds can make a huge difference. Now is the time to take action!

Diabetes is the most costly chronic disease in the United States, causing serious financial burden on American families. The diabetes medication options have such popularity in the media, this can cause confusion on appropriate treatment options for diabetics and prediabetes patients.

Meeting with a certified diabetes educator (CDE) can help alleviate some of this stress. Many people with diabetes — and their loved ones — lack awareness about how working with a certified diabetes educator can help them live better with diabetes.  Having diabetes is hard work. It requires meaningful education, discipline and a change in lifestyle.

Diabetes impacts not just what you eat and how much you exercise, but having the disease can add additional stress to your social life and ability to function in the workplace.

I admit I may be a bit biased because I’m a diabetes educator, however, I am also a Type 1 diabetic and understand the value of having a network of resources to help battle the day to day struggles a person with diabetes faces. 

Diabetic educators have a unique skillset. We can be a very helpful resource in your management of diabetes or prediabetes. Our skillset will help you manage medications (both oral and injectable), nutritional lifestyles changes, stress management, exercise styles and frequency, as well as day-to-day adventures in blood sugar. 

Powell Valley Healthcare has taken a proactive approach in the fight against diabetes for the community.  PVHC employs two board certified diabetes educators: Tina Braet-Thomas, RD, CDE, and myself (Jill O’Donnell, RN, CDE). Tina is a registered and licensed dietician with over 20 years of experience working with patients on the lifestyle change of making healthy food choices. I am a registered nurse with 12 years of experience and have personally managed Type 1 diabetes for over 40 years. 

Powell Valley Healthcare will be offering National Diabetes Prevention Program community-based classes. Based on strong evidence of effectiveness in reducing new-onset diabetes, the Community Preventative Services Task Force (communityguide.org) now recommends combined diet and physical activity promotion programs like the NDPP for people at increased risk for type 2 diabetes. Tina and I will be heading this task force and recruiting community participants.

(To contact either Jill O’Donnell or Tina Braet-Thomas, please call Powell Valley Healthcare at 307-754-7257.)

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