17 Myths About Type 2 Diabetes
More than 29 million people in the U.S., or 9.3 percent of the population, have diabetes, with 1.7 million people ages 20 years or older diagnosed in 2012 alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“About one third of all individuals with the condition in which blood glucose levels are too high – that is nearly 8 million people – have not been diagnosed, even though their blood sugar values are elevated,” Dr. Athena Philis-Tsimikas from Scripps Health’s Whittier Diabetes Institute in San Diego, says. About 1.4 million new cases are detected every year.
The biggest risk factor is being overweight. “The overall number of calories per person consumed in the U.S. has increased continuously over the past 30 years,” she adds. “Once a person develops diabetes, the consumption of carbs can lead to elevated glucose values that make blood sugar harder to control.”
The best way to manage the situation is to measure blood sugar. Your doctor should let you know what the ideal targets for your specific situation are, Dr. Philis-Tsimikas says. “There is an interesting glucose monitoring device that measures continuous blood glucose every 5 minutes. It can be worn for one week during all your activities.”
It is important to remember that although there may be some weight gain, the benefit of bringing blood sugars into a better control is tremendous since high blood sugars can cause so much damage to many organs in our body such as kidneys, nerves, eyes and heart, Dr. Philis-Tsimikas says.
Diabetes is a chronic disease and usually has a genetic cause, so once it has manifest itself it is difficult to “cure,” but it is possible to reverse the elevations in blood sugar with improvement in diet, physical activity and weight.
“If the blood sugar values correct into the normal range then we might call this ‘diabetes in remission’ or ‘diet-controlled diabetes,’” she adds. There are still a few other risks associated with diabetes such as high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels that can lead to heart disease. Even if the blood sugars are normal, it is important to monitor and manage these other conditions as well.