April 1, 2019
Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the US, and yet a quarter of the people who have it don’t know it. The most common form of diabetes, Type 2, is also the most preventable.
Dr. C. Edward Geno, assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine, walked participants through the basics of understanding and managing their diabetes during a presentation as part of the Mini Medical School program, a collaboration of the College and The University of Alabama OLLI program.
Diabetes is caused by an imbalance in the levels of glucose and insulin. Glucose is a sugar that is released into the bloodstream after eating carbohydrates. In a functioning system the insulin created by the pancreas allows the glucose to move from the blood to the body’s cells where it is used for energy.
While there is no cure for diabetes Geno said maintaining an active lifestyle, losing weight, quitting smoking, and most importantly, managing diet can make it possible to live a long life with diabetes.
“It’s not a death sentence, but it’s like having a child; you have to watch them, you have to help them,” Geno said.
Without proper management diabetes puts people at a higher risk of stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, and vision loss. It can also cause neuropathy, or numbness in the feet. It’s important for diabetics to equalize their glucose level, seek frequent medical checkups, and check their feet daily for any injury they may not have felt.
It’s especially important to continue regular health screenings as diabetes is not a static disease. As the body changes as it ages, as diet changes, and as weight changes the amount of insulin needed changes.
“It is possible to manage, but it is constant,” Geno said. “It’s a marathon not a sprint.”
Geno recommended using resources like My Fitness Pal to track your caloric and carbohydrate consumption. Additionally, he said diabetes.org and diatribe.org can help manage diabetes. The University Medical center offers class to help learn to manage diet, exercise, grocery shopping, and social support to diabetics.
The Mini Medical School program has been put on by faculty and resident physicians of the College since 2016. It provides an opportunity for adults and community learners to explore trends in medicine and health, and the lectures offer important information about issues and advances in medicine and research.