ASK THE EXPERT: Recognizing the warning signs of diabetes

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)– November is Diabetes Awareness Month.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than 34 million adults have the disease and 1 in 5 of them don’t know they have it.

As part of our “Ask the Expert” series, in partnership with Bon Secours St. Francis, 7 News’ Taylor Murray spoke with a specialist about the different types of diabetes and the warning signs you should not ignore.

In the last 20 years, the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled.

Type 1 usually occurs earlier in life and happens suddenly — an autoimmune reaction stops the body from making insulin.

Linda Boe, a Diabetes Care Specialist and Registered Dietician, says type 2 usually occurs later in life, and gradually develops over time.

“The beta cells either don’t make enough insulin or that insulin is resistant to unlock cells.”

According to the CDC, no one knows how to prevent type 1 diabetes, but type 2 can be prevented or delayed with healthy lifestyle changes.

“Think of exercise as free medication. It is as good at lowering blood sugars,” Boe said.

Linda Boe / Diabetes Care Specialist and Registered Dietician, Bon Secours St. Francis Health

‘Boe says that dropping a few pounds can make a dramatic difference. Just a 7% weight loss can cut your risk of developing diabetes by nearly 60 percent.

“If you weighed 150 pounds, that would be 10.5-pound weight loss, so it’s not a huge amount,” Boe said.

A diet that lowers inflammation which can lead to insulin resistance is also key to prevention.

“We’re talking more whole grains. We’re talking fresh fruits and veggies. Nuts and seeds and then our heart-healthy fats as well,” Boe said.

Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to loss of vision, damage to nerves and blood vessels, kidney problems and an increased risk of a heart attack. Recognizing the warning signs early on and talking with a healthcare professional can be lifesaving.

“Thirst, frequent urination, dry itchy skin, hunger, nausea, wounds that don’t heal, drowsiness can all be some of the symptoms.

Along with diet and excercise, specialist Linda Boe says diabetes can also be treated with stress management and medication.

Gestational diabetes is the third type of diabetes.

It develops in pregnant women who have never had the disease.

To submit a health topic for our Ask the Expert series, click here.

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