Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control. In recognition of National Diabetes Month this November, Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital (RPMH) would like to educate the community on the importance of diabetes screenings and treatment.
“There are 20.8 million Americans living with diabetes,” said Dr. Robert Eaker at RPMH. “Nearly one third of them are unaware they have the disease and we want to lower that number.”
Diabetes mellitus, typically referred to as diabetes, is a disease that causes the pancreas to alter the production of insulin - an important hormone that converts sugar and starches into energy the body needs. If the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin, then the amount of sugar in the blood rises uncontrollably, causing a deadly health risk.
Avoiding fatal health risks associated with diabetes is possible with proper education and by taking preventative measures.
“While diabetes is not curable, most symptoms can be controlled with proper care,” Dr. Eaker explained. “The disease is often discovered during routine physical exams, typically with blood tests.”
Warning signs of diabetes include excessive thirst, frequent urination, drowsiness and itching, blurred vision, excessive weight, tingling in the extremities, fatigue, and skin infections. Other signs include slow healing of cuts and scratches, especially on the feet.
If your family has a history of diabetes, you are at a greater risk of developing diabetes.
People at the highest risk of diabetes are those who are overweight, those with diabetic relatives, and those over the age of 35. Statistics also show that women are at a higher risk for diabetes.
Dr. Eaker said that diabetes is actually a family of diseases which have an impact on virtually all systems of the human body.
“The statistics are frightening! Diabetes can decrease life expectancy by approximately one-third,” Dr. Eaker explained. “It is now the leading cause of blindness. Diabetics are 17 times more prone to kidney disease, five times more prone to tissue infections like gangrene, and twice as prone to heart disease and strokes.”
Those with diabetes are also encouraged to receive foot examinations on an annual basis, at minimum, to identify and/or prevent high-risk foot conditions. People who experience foot conditions related to diabetes should been screen more frequently, as recommended by their physician. Examinations are critical in preventing debilitating effects or possible amputation.
According to Dr. Eaker, recent studies have shown an increased link between type II diabetes and Alzheimer’s, providing even more of a reason to prevent or control the onset.
As with other diseases and illnesses, everyone can benefit from a yearly physical. Screening for diabetes for those who fall in the high risk categories should be done every year. Diabetes can be controlled through a proper diet, exercise, medication, and proper rest.
RPMH has a registered dietitian that performs diet counseling once a physician has determined that a patient is diabetic. The dietitian will work with patients one-on-one to develop a diet program.
Most insurance programs require a physician order before diet counseling will be covered by the plan. For more information about diabetes or to schedule a screening, please call 325-235-1701.
About Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital
Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital provides healthcare for those in the communities they serve. Founded in 1976, Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital offers a wealth of medical services including: 24 hour emergency care, advanced radiology services including CT scanning and MRIs, outpatient lab, physical therapy, surgical services, swing bed services, patient education, home health and assistive services, and more. For additional information, please visit www.rpmh.net .