Diabetes: Tour de Cure Raises Research Money

by Carla Cox

About 9.3 percent of people in the United States have diabetes, and Montana is right there. It’s rare to find an individual who is not touched by someone with diabetes – a relative, co-worker, friend.

The human body likes to keep blood sugar (glucose) levels at a certain level, between 70 and 99 mg/dl. Diabetes occurs when a person’s blood sugar levels are higher than normal.

Two major forms of diabetes are identified. Type 1 diabetes occurs in 1 percent ofthe population by age 70. It is not caused by poor eating habits or being inactive. For some reason, not yet fully identified, people who develop type 1 diabetes have their insulin-producing cells attacked and disabled or
destroyed. These individuals require insulin injections through a syringe, pen or continuous pump.

Insulin is required every minute of every day for survival, allowing us to use the body’s sugar for energy. The challenge with type 1 diabetes is its tedious nature, and the fact that an incorrect dose of insulin –
whether too much or not enough – can result in serious consequences. Many people live and thrive with type 1 diabetes, but it requires constant attention for good control. It’s like having a second job or twice as much homework to do.

Type 2 diabetes is more common, and 90 percent to 95 percent of people with diabetes have this form. This disease is common in families and is often, but not always, connected to lifestyle choices such as inappropriate food choices – too much food or not enough quality food – and limited exercise.

diabetes-fingerPeople with type 2 diabetes often are able to control their blood sugar levels by eating healthfully and being physically active every day. However, they may require oral and injectable medications. Working with a diabetes educator and a provider can be very helpful in dealing with this chronic disease. Normalizing blood sugar, regardless of the way it is done, can help to prevent long-term complications such as damage to the nerves, eyes, heart, lungs, muscles, skin and kidneys. Every organ of the body can be affected by high blood sugar.Diagnosis of diabetes is done through a blood test. If a person’s blood sugar is over 126 mg/dl fasting, diabetes is diagnosed.

Another test that measures average blood sugar over three months is an A1C (glycosylated hemoglobin). If that number is 6.5 percent or higher, the diagnosis is also made. If you have any signs or symptoms of diabetes, get checked. Signs include thirst, frequent urination, blurry vision, weight loss and ongoing fatigue.

Risk factors for diabetes include:
Type 1: Family history
Type 2: Family history, excess belly fat, inactive lifestyle

To assess your risk for diabetes, go to diabetes.org/are-you-at-risk/diabetesrisk-test.

In honor of those who have diabetes and to help raise money to support children with diabetes and help
them attend Camp Montana, the American Diabetes Association holds bike rides and walks across the U.S.

In Montana, the Tour de Cure bike ride and walk for diabetes will be held Sept. 12 at Missouri Headwaters State Park. The tour is in its seventh year, having raised more than $700,000 for programs,
research and camp support. More than 2,500 riders have participated in this great event, and the feedback on the ride has been positive. All people with diabetes receive a Red Rider/Red Strider jersey to
acknowledge their day-to-day challenges of managing diabetes. The ride is fully supported with food, bike mechanics and a post-ride/walk barbecue. You can join as an individual, form your own team or join the Red Rider Team.

Sign up for a great day of celebration and activity your whole family can enjoy, as well as support a great cause. Register at diabetes.org/tourdecuremontana.

Hope to see you there!

Carla Cox is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at the Providence Medical Group Endocrinology