Did you know that 7 million Americans are currently living with diabetes, but aren’t aware of it because they have not been diagnosed? According to reports, there are over 18 million Americans who have been diagnosed with the disease, and 79 million who are prediabetic.
Diabetes Care Specialist, Wendy Fairchild knows all too well how devastating diabetes can be, she lost two brothers and her father to the disease. Wendy was kind enough to join me for an interview yesterday on “Diabetes Alert Day” to discuss the common myths surrounding diabetes, risk factors, how you can lower your risk and when you should see your doctor.
Candace Rose: What causes diabetes?
Wendy Fairchild: “One of the things that doesn’t cause it or is a misperception is eating too much sugar. It doesn’t help, but really what causes diabetes is the inability to use the insulin your body’s producing correctly or not producing insulin at all.
There’s two types of diabetes: there’s type 1 diabetes, and there’s type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes used to be called childhood, but it’s no longer classified that way because age can vary dramatically. It’s an autoimmune disease with genetic components. Type 2 diabetes is really what we’re here to talk about today because that’s 90% of people with diabetes, have type 2 diabetes.”
Candace Rose: What factors put someone at risk for diabetes?
Wendy Fairchild: “There’s controllable factors and uncontrollable factors that put people at risk for diabetes.
- Age. Age is uncontrollable, but as we get older, 45 is typically an age that’s a marker for starting to increase your risk factor for diabetes.
- Race. If you’re of Hispanic, African American or American Indian descent, you’re going to have a higher propensity for incurring the disease in your lifetime.
- Genetic. There’s a genetic component. Having lost two brothers and a dad to this disease, it’s doubled my risk factor. It will double anyone’s risk factor if they have a genetic component.
But the one thing we can control is being diagnosed earlier. Men, get to the doctor and get diagnosed. They don’t get to the doctor in time so they get diagnosed later than women do.
Also, having high blood pressure. Reduce the salt or add high blood pressure medication, it will help reduce your risk for developing diabetes.
And then the two most common controllable factors are your activity level. The more active we are, it can reduce it by 30%. It’s definitely worth leaving the car keys on the counter and taking a walk or taking a bike, using the stairs, instead of the elevator. The more active we are the more we’ll reduce our risk by 30%, so that’s a significant reduction.
Being overweight. If we can lose 7% of our weight can dramatically reduce it. So if someone is 200 pounds, that would be the loss of 15 pounds. Just 15 pounds can make a difference in reducing your reducing your risk factor for diabetes and cardiovascular outcomes too.”
Candace Rose: Like you, I have a huge family history of diabetes. Is there anything that people like us who are at a higher risk, help prevent it?
Wendy Fairchild: “Knowing our risk factors is number one. There’s a website: DoYouKnowDiabetes.com and it’s like eight questions, and it’s a pretty simple one minute test. Being active, I have a low risk. But if I’m inactive, I’m at a high risk. If you’re at high risk you need to get tested. I always ask my doctor because of my family background to make sure on my annual exams that I get a fasting test and A1C test, and I always know my numbers.
The fasting test is a snippet of that morning’s blood sugar; and the A1C test is a test that will give you a 90 day average of your blood sugar, so you have a good average. So the doctor will know what those numbers mean and can talk you through what’s the best- whether it’s just diet and exercise, which is an awesome treatment or whether you need to go on some meds. But knowledge will help you control this disease. It’s not what medication you’re on, it’s how well you’re controlled. So if you need to be on a little bit more medication to stay in control and not having those complications down the road and losing loved ones too early is the best thing we can do.”
Candace Rose: Are there any common signs and symptoms of diabetes that you should look out for?
Wendy Fairchild: “Unfortunately diabetes is one of those things that you can go undiagnosed because there aren’t a lot of real apparent symptoms. When you do start to get symptoms, it can be 10 years into the disease, such as dry mouth, thirst (very, very thirsty), your weight can either go up or down. There are a few symptoms, but on a whole, the best thing you can do is know your risk factors and be tested at every annual exam if you’re at high risk.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share with us, Wendy?
Wendy Fairchild: “I think one of the most important tips is really just staying active and eat healthy. You’ll enjoy life more and the less you eat, the better you’ll feel, the more active you can be. Even if you do have diabetes, it’s a controllable disease. Stay in control, it’s the best thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones, so you don’t have complications.”
Candace Rose: Where can viewers go for more information?
Wendy Fairchild: “DoYouKnowDiabetes.com is a great first start. There’s a lot of links on there, and you can take the risk test there. And there’s a lot of links there for other information.”
To hear more from renowned physicians and trusted experts in the field of health, please visit: CandieAnderson.com/Health