How Can You Prevent Type II Diabetes?

7 Jul

In a healthy person, insulin helps turn food into energy. Your stomach breaks down carbohydrates into sugars. They enter the bloodstream, prompting your pancreas to release the hormone insulin in just the right amount. It helps your cells use the sugar for fuel.

When you have type II diabetes, your body does a poor job turning the carbohydrates in food into energy. This causes sugar to build up in your blood. Over time it raises your risk for heart disease, blindness, nerve and organ damage, and other serious conditions. It strikes people of all ages, and early symptoms are mild. About 1 out of 3 people with type II diabetes don’t know they have it.

People with type II diabetes often have no symptoms. When they do appear, one of the first may be being thirsty a lot. Others include dry mouth, bigger appetite, peeing a lot — sometimes as often as every hour — and unusual weight loss or gain. As your blood sugar levels get higher, you may have other problems like headaches, blurred vision, and fatigue.

Red Flags that You May Have Type II Diabetes

In many cases, type II diabetes isn’t discovered until it takes a serious toll on your health. Some red flags include:

  • Cuts or sores that are slow to heal
  • Frequent yeast infections or urinary tract infections
  • Itchy skin, especially in the groin area

Controllable Risk Factors

Some risk factors for getting type II diabetes can be controlled. These usually include health habits ands and medical conditions related to your lifestyle such as

  • Being overweight, especially at the waist
  • Being inactive sedentary – A couch potato lifestyle (characterized by the absence of regular exercise or physical activities) and sedentary type jobs such as office work
  • Smoking
  • Eating a lot of red meat, processed meat, high-fat dairy products, and sweets
  • Unhealthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels

Uncontrollable Risk Factors

Some risk factors that increase your risk of getting type II diabetes that are out of your control, include:

  • Race or ethnicity: Bring Hispanics, African-American, Native American, or Asians
  • Family history of diabetes: Having a parent or sibling with diabetes.
  • Age: Being 45 and older raises your risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Having gestational diabetes when you were pregnant
  • Delivering a baby that weighed over 9 pounds
  • Having polycystic ovary syndrome

The more risk factors you have, the more likely you’ll get type 2 diabetes.

Potential Medical Consequences of Type II Diabetes

Type II Diabetes can lead to various disorders such as heart disease that includes strokes, kidney disease, a deterioration of your vascular system that can lead to an amputation of a limb, most commonly the leg, nerve pain, inability of wounds/sores to heal properly, gum disease, vision loss, and even diabetic shock and death. Workers with type II diabetes must be particularly careful to keep their blood sugar levels in the normal range, especially when performing strenuous labor and/or working in a hot environment. It is not so uncommon to have a worker with type II diabetes pass out at work due to low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia).

Diagnosis of Type II Diabetes

To diagnose whether or not you have diabetes, your doctor will take some blood and do an A1c test. The A1c test shows your average blood sugar level over the past 2-3 months. If you already have symptoms, they might give you a random blood glucose test, which shows what your current level is.

What Can you Do to Help Prevent Type II Diabetes Even if you Have Various Risk Factors?

The most important thing to do is eat healthier! You can control blood sugar levels by changing your diet and losing extra weight. That will also cut your risk of complications. Carefully track the carbs in your diet. Keep amounts the same at every meal, watch how much fat and protein you eat, and cut calories. Ask your doctor to refer you to a dietitian to help you make healthy choices and an eating plan.

The next most important thing to do is exercise regularly. Strength training or aerobic exercise such as walking, improves your body’s use of insulin and can lower blood sugar levels. Being active also helps get rid of body fat, lower blood pressure, and protect you from heart disease. Try to get 30 minutes of moderate activity on most days of the week. Doing yard work counts!

Controlling stress is also important. Stress can boost your blood pressure and blood sugar. Some people don’t do anything for it. Others turn to food to cope with it. Instead, practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or visualization. Talking to a friend, family member, counselor, or a religious leader could help. If you can’t beat it, reach out to your doctor.

Medical Treatment of Type II Diabetes

Proper medications can help. If diet and exercise can’t get your blood sugar under control, your doctor may add medication. There are many types of diabetes pills available. They’re often combined. Some work by telling your pancreas to make more insulin. Others help your body use it better or block the digestion of starches. Some slow insulin breakdown. Newer oral drugs help your body pee out more sugar.

Your doctor may prescribe insulin early in your treatment and combine it with pills. It can also help people with type II diabetes who develop “beta-cell failure.” This means the cells in your pancreas no longer make insulin when blood sugar is high. If this happens, insulin will become part of your daily routine. There are also drugs called non-insulin injectables that are available for people with type II diabetes. These injectables cause your body to make insulin to control blood sugar levels.

Monitoring You Blood Sugar Level

Your doctor can show you how to use a glucose meter (glucometer) to check your blood sugar. This lets you know how your treatment plan is working. How often and when you test will be based on how well controlled your diabetes is, the type of treatment you use, and how stable your blood sugar is. Common testing times are when you wake up, before and after meals and exercise, and at bedtime.

Summary of Prevention Measures:

  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Exercise for 30 minutes, 5 days a week.
  • Stay at a healthy weight.
  • Get tested for prediabetes (People with prediabetes can avoid getting diabetes with lifestyle changes and medication.)

Note: WorkSaver offers a very popular motivational one-hour employee wellness and injury prevention seminar called the The Enemy in the Mirror, which teaches attendees how to become self-reliant and take responsibility for their own health. Presented both at safety meetings and conferences. Available live and virtually. If interested, please call our WorkSaver office at (800) 414-2174.

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