By Karen Stokes
Gwen Washington, a former Milwaukee Public School educator, believes in staying healthy. She faithfully attends her annual physicals and she’s been in good health. Recently, her latest blood work revealed something unexpected – she was prediabetic.
“My primary care doctor told me that there were concerns about diabetes and cholesterol. It was very alarming,” Washington said. “I have always had a history of diabetes in my family. My father has to go to dialysis and my mom has hypertension with diabetes but neither I nor my siblings ever had any symptoms so I was quite shocked.”
According to the American Diabetes Association, when it comes to prediabetes, there are no clear symptoms. You may have it and not know it. Before people develop Type 2 diabetes; they almost always have prediabetes—blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. You may have some of the symptoms of diabetes or even some of the complications.
More than 30 million Americans have diabetes (about 1 in 10) and 90% to 95% of them have Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes most often develops in people over age 45, but more and more children, teens and young adults are also developing it.
“You know I’ve always heard how Type 2 diabetes can escalate and get out of control, especially if it goes on being undiagnosed,” Washington said. “Some of the things my doctors told me would happen if I didn’t get a handle on my health, I would need shots, lose a limb or go blind.”
Washington, who is in her 60’s understands the importance of following the advice of her doctors at Ascension St. Joseph’s outpatient clinic on health.
“It’s not that you can’t turn this thing around,” Washington said. “Eat green leafy vegetables, watch your weight and exercise. I attend an exercise class and I’ve given up a lot of carbs, breads, rice and pasta and I’m incorporating grains and nuts in my diet.”
Doctors say you have the power to turn things around. Early treatment can actually return blood sugar levels to a normal range. Ask plenty of questions when you go to the doctor and listen to the answers. Start exercising. Start eating healthy.
“Even though you do have the diagnosis, you just don’t lay back and wither away, you maintain a good quality of life,” Washington said.
Health insurance can help pay for doctors’ visits and medications. If you don’t have health insurance, take action today to stay healthy for your family, call 414-585-3195.