Diabetes Alert Day: Learn Your Risk, Control Your Health

March 22nd marks the annual American Diabetes Association Diabetes Alert day, an event that serves as “a wake-up call asking Americans to take the Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test to find out if they are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.” The importance of early diagnosis and proper management is crucial to positive outcomes among the diabetic population, as the progression of the disease can lead to serious disability if not treated properly.

It is estimated that one in every four people with diabetes is unaware that they have the disease. When left untreated, complications can include eye and nerve damage, kidney disease, and serious long term effects on the body. One of the most common problems associated with improper care is severe damage to the feet. As a result of steady untreated high blood sugar, poor blood flow causes nerve loss. These issues create noticeable changes, which turn seemingly ordinary cuts and cracks in the skin into painful and sometimes untreatable foot ulcers. If untreatable, amputation is often the last resort. However, most amputations are preventable, with regular care and proper footwear.

Another common but serious issue is kidney disease among the diabetic population. Our kidneys filter waste products from the blood. When blood sugar is not properly controlled, elevated glucose causes the kidneys to filter too much, sending the kidneys into “overdrive mode.” This added stress on the organs after years of improper management may lead to long-term damage, and in some cases, end stage renal disease requiring dialysis or transplant. This can be prevented by keeping sugars within the goal range, lessening the strain on the kidneys.

At New Editions, we have nurses and team members who work on a Department of Transportation (DOT) contract that allows insulin-dependent diabetics the opportunity to drive commercial vehicles if they meet certain conditions.  Our team monitors those drivers, ensuring they continue to receive proper medical care and meet certain safety and medical screening requirements, operating guidelines, and monitoring and accountability standards.

Drivers applying to the insulin exemption program must be evaluated by an endocrinologist—a medical doctor that specializes in diabetes. The driver must also see an ophthalmologist or optometrist for regular dilated eye exams, which can detect slight changes to the tiny vessels in the eye unseen on regular physicals. In order to stay in the program, quarterly and annual monitoring is required by both of these specialties. Since the participants in the program work closely with their doctors, they achieve a greater level of care and optimum health. These continuous office visits can prevent serious long- term complications and provide early detection of possible debilitating health issues. 

It is important that diabetics and non-diabetics alike are aware of the potential complications that can arise from diabetes and to know if you are at risk for developing the disease. Family history, diet, exercise, and gender all play important factors in your likelihood to develop the illness. Alert Day focuses on the early detection of diabetes and what individuals can do to prevent further health problems. Learn your own risk by visiting http://www.diabetes.org/are-you-at-risk/diabetes-risk-test/?loc=alertday. By answering a few simple questions, you can determine if a visit with your current doctor is needed to discuss you and diabetes.

To learn more about lowering your risk of diabetes, please visit: http://www.diabetes.org/are-you-at-risk/lower-your-risk/. If you or someone you know is currently being treated for Type 2 diabetes and you are interested in finding or learning more about assistive technology that may help manage symptoms or limitations, visit www.AbleData.com.