Kentucky’s epidemic: the fight against diabetes

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, November 2, 2021

While the world still fights a pandemic, it’s important to remember that here in Kentucky we are still fighting an epidemic in our battle against diabetes. Nearly 50 percent of the Bluegrass population has been diagnosed with diabetes or has been given a pre-diabetes diagnosis. Yearly, Kentucky spends $14 billion on healthcare to help prevent, stop and hopefully cure the disease.

It’s estimated that one in 11 people have diabetes, and an estimated 422 million adults have been diagnosed with the disease. One in three individuals with diabetes is considered overweight, and one in 10 is obese.

The good news is certain types of diabetes are curable.

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Type 1 diabetes occurs when an individual’s body does not produce enough insulin. This type is the rarest and neither the cause nor the means to prevent it are known. Type 2 diabetes occurs when an individual’s body produces too much insulin and cannot process it well enough. The third type of diabetes is gestational diabetes which is a temporary condition of pregnancy.

With a healthy diet and exercise, many people have reversed their diagnosis of the most common type of the disease, type 2 diabetes. The key to changing your diagnosis is to control the risk factors.

You may be considered high-risk for diabetes if you are obese or overweight, are older, live an inactive lifestyle, have a parent or sibling who has been diagnosed with the disease, have a previous diagnosis for gestational diabetes, have high blood pressure, or are African-American, Asian, American-Indian or Hispanic. By controlling the risk factors you can, such as an inactive lifestyle or being overweight, you’ll lower your chances of cardiovascular disease, neuropathy which results in the loss of sensation in limbs and/or possible amputation, and kidney damage. Individuals with diabetes are also considered at a higher risk for stroke and blindness. If you’re considered high-risk, it’s also equally important to be aware of the signs and symptoms that could prove life-threatening.

Changes in your body that should prompt a visit to your doctor for consultation include excessive hunger, excessive thirst, excessive urination, fatigue, frequent infections, open wounds that are not healing properly, or numbness and/or the sensation of pins and needles in your extremities. These changes occur in an individual with diabetes because of the rise in blood sugar levels. If you’re currently a diabetic, signs that your blood sugar is too low include feeling lightheaded, dizzy, weak, or breaking out in a sweat.

The best way to fight diabetes is to find a diet that works for you, get plenty of exercise, avoid excessive weight gain, and don’t neglect your health by making sure to see your primary care provider if and when you need to. Diabetes may be an epidemic in Kentucky, but by following these easy guidelines and encouraging others around us to live a healthier lifestyle, we can reverse the cause and hopefully cure an epidemic that proves easy to fight if we dedicate our bodies and minds to health, diet, and exercise.