Diabetes is a serious chronic disease with potentially fatal consequences. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2013 8.5% of Will County residents had diabetes, which is about 40,745 residents. The CDC estimates that 29.1 million people, 1 out of every 11 people, currently have diabetes. There are four different types of diabetes: type 2, type 1, prediabetes, and gestational diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way the body processes blood sugar (glucose). Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Prediabetes is a condition where the blood sugar is high, but not high enough to cause type 2 diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a condition during pregnancy that causes high blood sugar and affects pregnant women and their baby’s health.
Common risk factors for type 2 diabetes include: being overweight, being over 45 years old, having a family history of type 2 diabetes, not being physically active, and having gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds. Race and ethnicity are also risk factors.
According to the IDPH Vital Statistics Report, 113 diabetes related deaths occurred in Will County in 2014. Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States in 2013. Other complications related to diabetes are: heart disease and stroke, blindness and other eye problems, kidney disease, and amputations. Gestational diabetes can cause complications for mother and baby; including preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced high blood pressure), birth related trauma, and birth defects.
People who think they could have diabetes should see a physician for diagnosis. Look for the following symptoms:
• Frequent urination
• Excessive thirst
• Unexplained weight loss
• Extreme hunger
• Sudden vision changes
• A tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
• Frequent unexplained fatigue
• Very dry skin
• Sores that are slow to heal and more infections than usual
Up to 25% of US adults who have diabetes, aren’t aware they have it and that they may be developing serious complications. Without major changes, as many as 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. could have diabetes by 2050. Just a few healthy changes can greatly lower a person’s risk of developing the disease. To help prevent type 2 diabetes:
• Watch your weight.
• Eat healthy.
• Get more physical activity.
If an individual has been diagnosed with diabetes, there are accredited diabetes self-management classes available, visit https://www.diabeteseducator.org/living-with-diabetes/find-an-education-program
The Will County Community Health Center, located at 1106 Neal in Joliet, has a diabetes support group that meets once a month. A nurse practitioner provides the group with diabetes information, education, and uses demonstrations and models to teach. Spanish translators are available. The group checks their blood sugar (glucose), share experiences, and goes for a walk during group. For more information contact: (815) 727-8670.