More than 30 million people in the United States are living with type 2 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Want to help bring that number down? It starts with not adding your name to the list. Diabetes awareness and prevention are the best tools we have at our disposal. And here in Charles County, you have plenty of resources to help you prevent diabetes or reverse a diagnosis of prediabetes.
Did you know that the Charles County Department of Health offers a CDC-certified National Diabetes Prevention Program? The next one begins in August and, if you’re at risk for type 2 diabetes, registering for this course is a great first step to taking control of your health.
You can learn more about the course on the Department of Health website, and you can even take the quick, online risk test. A few simple questions about your current health, your physical activity and your family medical history can give you a solid indication of your risk level.
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition in which glucose (sugar) builds up in your bloodstream. Insulin typically helps regulate blood sugar, but with type 2 diabetes, your body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or it resists the insulin. This causes too much glucose to stay in your blood and not enough to reach your cells.
What Symptoms Should You Watch for?
Those at higher risk for prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes include those 45 or older, those who have a family history of diabetes, those who are overweight or lead a sedentary lifestyle. African Americans, Hispanics and Asians also are at a statistically higher risk.
Early detection is critical to preventing, reversing, or managing the condition. If you notice these symptoms, contact your doctor:
- Increased thirst or hunger
- Frequent urination
- Blurred vision
- Numbness or tingling in your feet and hands
- Unexplained weight loss
What Does Diabetes Prevention Include?
The good news is that preventing prediabetes or even reversing an early diagnosis is well within your reach. The key is taking a thoughtful, strategic approach to reaching and maintaining your best health.
While you can’t control the genetic factors that may leave you predisposed to diabetes, there are many lifestyle choices that you can make to reduce your risk.
Healthy eating is often the first step. You can roast, steam, or broil your foods, rather than frying them. You can work a salad into your regular diet. You can opt for low-fat foods and still get the flavor you love by adding delicious herbs and spices. A healthier diet is an incredibly easy way to improve every aspect of your health.
The next step is to stay active. If you typically lead a sedentary lifestyle, this can seem daunting. But start small and work your way up. Every little bit helps. Take the stairs instead of the elevator when you have the option. When you go to the store, don’t fight to find the closest parking spot to the door. Park in the back and walk. Those extra few steps add up and make a big difference.
You should aim for at least 2.5 hours of moderate physical activity a week. That could be as simple as a 30-minute walk five days a week. Whether it’s a stroll in your neighborhood or a hike at one of the many gorgeous public parks in Southern Maryland, this is a goal that you can absolutely achieve.
Ready to Reduce Your Risk?
If you’re at risk for prediabetes, now is the time to take control of your health and give yourself the best chance to win the battle. Consult with a physician if you’d like help coming up with a more detailed plan. And tap into the many resources available to you right here in Southern Maryland.
Your health is worth it. And you can do it.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with a specialist, visit UM Charles Regional Medical Group – Diabetes and Endocrinology.