It affects 29 million Americans but health experts say 8 million Americans don’t know they are living with diabetes.
Sharon Krispinsky, a chronic health program coordinator with Lee Health, says untreated diabetes can cause serious health problems. “The concerning thing is because you can go many years without being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, particularly if you don’t see your physician regularly, you can come into the health system with a complication of diabetes and never even know you had it.”
Unlike type 1 diabetes, type two typically has no symptoms making it important for patients to have regular appointments with their doctor. “With type 1 diabetes, individuals diagnosed with this condition they have very obvious signs of diabetes. They’re drinking a lot, they’re urinating a lot, they have abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, dehydration,” said Krispinsky.
If patients are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, they are immediately placed on insulin and educated on meal planning and stress management. If patients are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, their focus needs to be on lifestyle changes, including diet, exercise, weight loss, and medications. “The hardest part of having diabetes, particularly type 2, is it really forces them to adopt a healthier lifestyle and lose weight so that their blood sugars can become better controlled,” said Krispinsky.
Patients should be tested for diabetes, especially if it’s part of their family history. “There are two ways to be tested, one is your physician can order some fasting lab glucoses which is blood sugar, and if they come back elevated on two occasions that can indicate diabetes or the doctor can order a test called hemoglobin A1C test, and this measure your average blood sugar over the past two or three months,” said Krispinsky.
Even though there’s no cure for diabetes, experts say it’s a completely treatable condition if patients know they have it.
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Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health - Caring People. Inspiring Care.