Diabetes-What it is, and how it can be prevented

When a person is diagnosed by a doctor with diabetes, it means they have too much sugar in their bloodstream. High blood sugar problems start when a body no longer makes enough of a chemical, or hormone, called insulin to help regulate blood sugar levels. Our bodies change a lot of the food we eat into a type of sugar called glucose. Glucose travels through your body to all of your cells, giving them energy to work properly. Insulin helps the glucose move from your blood into your cells. Without insulin, your cells wouldn’t get the sugar they need to keep you healthy. By helping to move the sugar from your blood to your body’s cells, insulin helps to keep your blood sugar level at a normal level(not too high; not too low).When you don’t have enough insulin to lower high blood sugar levels, you have diabetes. Diabetes is not contagious, which means you can’t catch it from someone, and you can’t give it to someone else. However, diabetes can, and must be treated because high blood sugar levels can cause serious problems. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness and kidney failure among adults. It causes mild to severe nerve damage that, coupled with diabetes related circulation problems, can often lead to the loss of a leg or foot. Diabetes significantly increases the risk of heart disease, and it’s the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S., directly causing almost 70,000 deaths each year and contributing to thousands more. According to the American Diabetes Association, Hispanics are 1.5 times, and Mexican-Americans are 1.7 times, more likely to have diabetes than non-Hispanic white adults because of a higher genetic disposition to diabetes. Migrant farmworkers are predominately Hispanic, and along with the higher susceptibility, lack of medical care, lack of healthy and fresh food options and the traveling lifestyle farmworkers lead, are at a higher risk of developing diabetes, and are more likely to have difficulty treating the disease. There are a few different types of diabetes that people could become diagnosed with. Some are more common than others.

Type 1 Diabetes

With Type-1 diabetes, your body no longer makes insulin, so those who have this type of diabetes must take insulin medication in order to keep their blood sugar at a healthy level. Most people with Type-1 diabetes are children or young adults, but you can get it at any age. Various factors may contribute to Type-1 diabetes, including genetics and exposure to certain viruses. Despite active research, Type-1 diabetes has no cure, although it can be managed. Type 2 Diabetes With Type-2 diabetes, your body makes some insulin, but not enough, or the insulin your body is making is not working right. If you do not have enough insulin to move sugar from your blood into your body’s cells, the amount of sugar in your blood goes up. Type-2 diabetes is more common in adults, but the number of children and young people with Type-2 diabetes is growing. Eating healthy foods in the right amounts, and being physically active can help people lower their blood sugar. Most people with Type-2 diabetes take prescription medication and may also take insulin. The good news is that Type-2diabetes is largely preventable. About9 cases in 10 can be avoided by taking several simple steps: keeping weight under control, exercising more, eating a healthy diet, and not smoking.

Gestational Diabetes

Pregnant women who have never had diabetes before, but who have high blood glucose (sugar) levels during pregnancy are said to have gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes affects the mother in late pregnancy, after the baby’s body has been formed,but while the baby is busy growing. When a woman is pregnant, her doctor will give her a test to make sure she does not have gestational diabetes. It is very important for every mother to get tested, and if diabetes is detected, the mother needs to be treated by her doctor.

Are you at risk?

According to the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP), in 2010, about 1.9 million people age 20 or older were diagnosed with diabetes. It is estimated that 79 million adults aged 20 and older are at serious risk of developing diabetes and already have Pre-Diabetes. Pre-Diabetes is a condition where blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes.According to the NDEP: Studies have shown that by losing weight and increasing physical activity, people can prevent or delay Pre-Diabetes from progressing to diabetes.

 Diabetes risk factors include:

  • Being age 45 or older.
  • Being overweight or obese.
  • Having a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes.
  • Having a family background that is Hispanic/Latino, African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander American.
  • If you’ve had gestational diabetes.
  • Have given birth to at least one baby weighing more than 9 pounds.
  • Having a blood pressure of 140/90 or higher, or have been told that you have high blood pressure.
  • Cholesterol levels are higher than normal: HDL, or good, cholesterol is below 35, or triglyceride level is above 250.
  • If you are fairly inactive.

Diabetes cannot be cured, but it can be controlled! People who control their blood sugar levels can leadfull and happy lives – just like everyone else. Talk to your doctor or health clinic for more information.

Get help finding a doctor

It is important that if you suspect yourself, or any of your family members,to have diabetes or pre-diabetes to see a doctor as soon as possible. If you do not already have a doctor, you can make an appointment through a migrant health center.Make an appointment with a doctor at a Migrant Health Center by calling the National Center for Farmworker Health to locate the nearest center at 1(800) 377-9968. The office is staffed by bilingual Information Specialists Monday through Friday,6:30 a.m.to 2:30 p.m. Pacific Time,and accessible 24 hours a day through an answering service and/or voice messaging. They can also be found online at www.ncfh.org.