“This November, as the nation observes American Diabetes Month, attention will focus upon the 18 million Americans coping with the disease. Yet more than twice that number, 41 million adults, have pre-diabetes symptoms and may not even be aware they are at risk.
“”Statistically, someone’s chances of getting diabetes are high and getting higher all the time,”” said James Palumbo, MD, medical director for Shore Health System’s Wound Healing Center, which treats diabetic ulcers. “”The number of adults with diabetes rose 45 percent during the 1990s.”
Dr. Palumbo continues, “We are seeing a similar increase here at the Wound Healing Center since 15 percent of people with diabetes will experience a foot ulcer. Of those, many will develop a chronic wound that, if not properly treated, could lead in the most severe cases to amputation. The majority of people with pre-diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes and more than half of them might be able to delay or prevent the onset of the disease with simple lifestyle changes.””
Dr. Palumbo offers these tips for finding out if you are at risk for pre-diabetes:
• Assess your risk. Passing your 40th birthday, being overweight and having a family history of diabetes will increase your risk. It is also more prevalent among African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and Asian Americans.
• The American Diabetes Association suggests overweight people 45 and older have their blood glucose level tested during their next routine doctor’s visit. If levels are normal, the organization suggests being retested every three years. A test every one to two years is in order if elevated levels determine pre-diabetes.
• The Diabetes Prevention Program studies, funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, showed that diet and exercise worked better than medication in delaying the onset of diabetes. A loss of five to ten percent of body weight combined with a daily dose of 30-minute exercise resulted in a 58 percent reduction in diabetes.
• Inspect your feet every day for injuries you may not feel and seek treatment for wounds that take more than 30 days to heal.
• For many people, a diagnosis of the vision problem diabetic retinopathy is one of the first signs of diabetes even though they may not be experiencing any eye pain or vision problems. Schedule annual eye exams where drops are administered to enlarge the pupils, allowing the eye care professional to see inside the eyes.
• Quit smoking. This habit can lead to hardening of the arteries and higher glucose and cholesterol levels in the blood, aggravating those same diabetic conditions.
The Shore Health System Wound Healing Center is located at The Memorial Hospital at Easton, 219 S. Washington Street in Easton. An affiliate of the National Healing Corporation, the Wound Healing Center is staffed by physicians and nurses trained in the specialized treatment of chronic wounds and non-responsive conditions. The Wound Healing Center also offers hospital-based outpatient wound care and hyperbaric oxygen therapy, as well as disease management and diabetes care. The Joint Commission has awarded National Healing Corporation Disease-Specific Care Certification for wound care.
For more information about the Shore Health System Wound Healing Center, call 410-820-6500 or visit www.shorehealth.org/services/woundcenter.html.