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The Diabetes Epidemic

Diabetic Blood MeterHow Bad is it?

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

The diabetes epidemic affects more than 29 million Americans, and 7 million of those don’t know they have it. It is marked by high levels of blood glucose resulting from defective insulin production, function, or both. The symptoms of diabetes develop gradually and include: fatigue, frequent urination, blurred vision, increased thirst and hunger, weight loss, and slow healing of sores. And unfortunately, some individuals experience no symptoms at all, making the condition harder to detect.

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. It’s the leading cause of kidney failure, nontraumatic lower-limb amputations, and new cases of blindness. At least 65 percent of those with the condition die from heart disease or stroke. Approximately one third of diabetics have periodontal disease.

Recent studies found that one third of adults and one half of seniors over 65 have pre-diabetes, a condition where blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes yet. In most of these cases lifestyle changes (especially diet) can control or reverse glucose levels.

At least 90 percent of affected patients have the type 2 variety, aka adult onset diabetes. These folks must take oral medication or require daily injections of insulin.

How to Treat and Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

Good news! There is much you can do to prevent diabetes—or manage it if you have it.

  • Get up on your feet. Physical activity can not only help you shed pounds, it can also lower your blood blood sugar and boost sensitivity to insulin.
  • Eat plenty of fiber, that “roughage” found in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds.
  • Shed extra pounds. One study showed that overweight adults who lost 5 to 10 percent of their body weight and exercised regularly reduced the risk of developing diabetes by 58 percent over a three-year period. Among adults over 60, the reduction was a whopping 71 percent.
  • Keep your routine dental appointments. The first warning signs of diabetes are often detected in the mouth, and treating periodontal disease is crucial to managing the condition.
  • If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, please let us know. We’ll need to know how it’s being treated and the names of all prescription and over-the-counter drugs you are taking.

What is Insulin?

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. Its purpose is to regulate your glucose (blood sugar) level. After you eat, your glucose level rises. That signals your pancreas to release insulin into your blood. The insulin helps the glucose to enter your cells, where it can be used for immediate energy or stored for energy later.

In diabetes, either the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin or the body can’t respond normally to the insulin that is made. This causes the glucose level in the blood to rise.

About Dr. Kristi Alexander

Doctor Kristi Alexander is locally born and raised in Carmichael. She found her love for the dental profession working in her father's dental lab for 10 years. She earned a degree in Biological Sciences from Sacramento State University and in 2000 she completed her degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) from University of Southern California (USC) School of Dentistry. She is a member of The ADA, CDA, and the Sacramento Dental Society.

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