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Diabetes part II: Take side effects seriously
Health advice
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This column is part two of a column on diabetes. Last week we talked about the different types of diabetes and the risk factors for these types.
There are 23.6 million people in the United States who have diabetes. The total prevalence of diabetes increased 13.5 percent from 2005-07. It is now believed that only 24 percent of people with diabetes are still undiagnosed. This is down from 30 percent in 2005 and from 50 percent 10 years ago. Almost 25 percent of the population aged 60 years or older have diabetes.
The total annual U.S. economic cost of diabetes in 2007 was estimated to be around $174 billion. Indirect costs (increased absenteeism, reduced productivity, disease-related unemployment disability, and loss of productive capacity due to early mortality) totaled $58 billion.  This is an increase of $42 billion since 2002 — or a 32 percent increase —  showing  that the dollar amount related to diabetes has risen over $8 billion more each year.
Nearly all people with diabetes have abnormal cholesterol levels which contribute to their increased risk for heart attack and stroke. By choosing foods wisely, increasing physical activity and taking medications, you can improve your cholesterol.  Hopefully, you will remember  that  our LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) should be less than 100. Here are some things you can  if you need  to lower your LDL cholesterol:
• Stay physically active.
• Eat a diet low in cholesterol, saturated fat and trans fats.
• Keep your weight in a healthy range.
• Avoid smoking.
We need for our HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) to be over 40. So, if it is not, you should do the following things to raise it:
• Stay physically active.
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Avoid smoking.
• Cut trans fats.
• Increase mono-unsaturated fats in your diet. Mono-un-saturated fats include canola oil, avocado oil and olive oil.
• Add soluble fiber to your diet. Foods with soluble fiber include oats, fruits, vegetables and legumes.
• Some research has also shown that moderate alcohol consumption (one or two drinks per day) can increase HDL levels.  
In addition to causing high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, diabetes can also contribute to eye disease and blindness. Specific eye conditions and other diseases caused by diabetes are:
 1. Cataracts: Clouding of the eye's lens.
2. Glaucoma: Glaucoma occurs when pressure builds up in the eye and causes drainage of the aqueous humor to slow down so that it builds up in the anterior chamber. The pressure pinches blood vessels that carry blood to the retina and optic nerve. Vision is gradually lost.
3. Diabetic retinopathy:   This is the leading cause of blindness in American adults. Diabetic retinopathy usually affects both eyes by weakening the small blood vessels in the retina. Retinal blood vessels may break down, leak, or become blocked, which causes an impairment of vision over time.
4. Kidney disease: Diabetic nephropathy is a condition in which the kidneys no longer function properly. It is often triggered by other diabetes-related health issues.
Other problems associated with diabetes include increased yeast infections, leg and foot amputations unrelated to injury,  depression and erectile dysfunction in men.
Because of the damage diabetes can do to your health and sight if not caught and treated in time, it’s important that you be checked and get on a treatment regime if you have this disease. You are at risk of developing diabetes if you:
1. Are older than 45.
2. Are overweight.
3. Have an immediate family member who has, or had, diabetes.
4. Have had diabetes when you were pregnant.  
5. Are African-American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American or Pacific Islander, or Native American.
See your healthcare provider now if you suspect you have diabetes or if diabetes runs in your family. Complications from diabetes may be prevented if diabetes is treated and you maintain your blood sugar levels.
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