You don't know because you're not a diabetic, huh? You think your doctor has it under control for you, huh? I see.
I've got news for you... 1 in 4 Newfoundlanders Has Prediabetes.
Are YOU one of them?
The diagnostic criteria for full-blown diabetes are when your blood's hemoglobin A1C tests above 7.0. This is when the key risks and symptoms of diabetes kick in. Normal is between 4.0 and 6.0. So what happens between 6.0 and 7.0? Prediabetes. It's that period of time when you blood sugars are creeping up, but it's not diabetes... yet.
The medical community is buzzing because incidence rates have been on the rise for years, it's costing us a mint, and we just aren't making a dent in the growth rate despite all our efforts. I think we just aren't catching it early enough.
The Canadian Diabetes Association suspects 25% of Newfoundlanders are living with prediabetes.
Most Of 'Em Don't Even Know It.
In North America, they've done studies and find that about 1/3 of people with full-blown diabetes didn't know they had it. Thank goodness for the study, or they still wouldn't! The logic holds for prediabetes too, only we suspect the rates of the oblivious are probably higher.
Prediabetes is silent, there are no symptoms or pain to alert you. The only way to find out is to test your blood sugars. Published guidelines state that everyone over 40 should be tested every 3 years, and anyone with one or more risk factors should be tested more frequently. Risk factors to consider range from smoking, being overweight, having a family member with diabetes, having difficulty sleeping, to simply being stressed and tired. That pretty well includes all of us over 40, doesn't it?
Well that logic seems pretty obvious. If you don't change direction, you're likely to end up where you're headed.
Newfoundlanders just don't realize the seriousness of diabetes. I know because I talk to people about it all the time. Without ambulances or sirens, it just doesn't seem so compelling. Let me tell you, it really frickin' matters... Doctors treat it with the same level of seriousness as a heart attack.
Diabetics are two to four times more likely to have a heart attack than the general population. Heart disease is still the number one killer worldwide, and rates are on the rise, especially for women.
And they kill diabetics more frequently and earlier that the rest of us. Of course, no one wants to die, but they especially don't want to suffer. A heart attack is a shitty way to go. So, why are so many of us risking it?!
Not to mention all the great living you'll miss out on... What about your retirement? The golden years? Don't you have plans to be living a life full of fun, laughter, and hanging with your grandkids? Again, why are so many of us risking the loss of that?
Here's the rub, for the vast majority, pre-diabetes, is a “behavioral lifestyle disease”. That's medical jargon for a direct result of your dietary and lifestyle choices. You can easily change those if it means you get to enjoy your 60s and 70s...
Most people seem to believe that diabetes is just part of the “It's All Downhill From 40” schtick. I'm writing to tell you it's not. Catch it in these early stages and there is actually really great chances of reversing it! Catching it while you can do something about it means you may be able to avoid medication altogether.
Look, you don't know what you don't know. Being in the know about your blood sugars may just save your life. If you are reading this, you know it's YOU (and not your doc) who is ultimately responsible for your health.
The most basic blood sugar screening is just a simple finger prick test, and it can be done at your doctor's office or even with your pharmacist if they are not super busy. Heck, if you are really brave, talk to a diabetic friend and ask to borrow their glucometer and have them show you. (Obviously, use fresh clean needles please!) Bottom line: Go get tested.
Dietary and lifestyle guidance for prediabetics and those newly diagnosed with Type II Diabetes can sometimes be hard to come by. D2FREE is an online educational program dedicated to helping create a diabetes-free Newfoundland and Labrador by helping you get your blood sugars under control and create better health for the long-haul.
Dr. Laura Nurse, ND
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