02 Nov Diabetes Awareness Month
Diabetes Awareness Month
November is considered ‘Diabetes Awareness Month’. This condition occurs when sugar levels in the blood are too high due to the body not being able to properly use or store sugar.
Some risk factors for type 2 diabetes are:
- Family History of Type 2 Diabetes
- Sedentary Lifestyle
- Being Overweight
- 45 years old or older
Many people with this disease do not know they have it. Some of the early symptoms of diabetes are:
- Increased Thirst and Urination
- Increased Hunger
- Blurred Vision
- Numbness or Tingling in Hands or Feet
- Poor Wound Healing
- Unexplained Weight Loss
The high levels of sugar in the blood can cause damage to the walls of the blood vessels over time. Even though this is a systemic condition that affects the blood vessels all over the body, it primarily affects the eyes and the kidneys due to the size of the veins in those parts of the body and this is why optometrists are sometimes the first doctors to diagnose a patient with diabetes.
Even though the eyes and the kidneys are the first parts to be affected, there can be other complications of diabetes. These include:
- Heart Disease
- Nerve Damage
- Bacterial and Fungal Skin Infections
- Slow Healing
- Hearing Impairment
One way primary care physicians and endocrinologists use to diagnose or manage their diabetic patients is by checking their A1C levels. This is a simple blood test to check the average blood sugar over the past three months. An A1C level of 6.5% or higher is an indication of diabetes. A diabetic patient’s A1C is usually measured every three months and they should strive to keep their A1C levels below 7%.
The longer you have diabetes, the higher the risk of diabetic retinopathy and the more damage to the rest of the body. Since the effects of the disease are happening throughout the entire body, but the eyes are the only part of the body that we can look inside without cutting open, it’s important for all diabetic patients to get an annual eye exam. It’s also important to make sure your optometrist is in close contact with your primary care physician or endocrinologist so everyone is on the same page as far as treatment is concerned. If you haven’t gotten your annual exam yet, make sure to schedule it soon.