SHREVEPORT, La. -- Tuesday is Diabetes Alert Day. It is a day of awareness and to stress the importance of knowing one’s risk and being tested for diabetes.
It is an important day, because many people do not even know they have it. So, what is diabetes?
“Diabetes is a condition where our body cannot make enough insulin and then the insulin that it does make, sometimes it doesn't work efficiently. And that can lead to a build-up of glucose in our blood. Glucose is our body’s fuel, and we need to be able to take that up and use it in our body,” explained Dr. Laura Kimball-Ravari, an endocrinologist at Willis Knighton Health System.
There are two types. Type 1 is an autoimmune condition, where the body produces antibodies that destroy the cells that make insulin. People with Type 1 diabetes are dependent on insulin treatments.
Type 2 diabetes has more to do with genetics and lifestyle choices.
“It's usually being overweight -- obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, any of you know, and all of those things can, you know come from having poor lifestyle habits and poor eating habits and not exercising,” said Kimball-Ravari.
Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. When it is not treated, it can wreak havoc on the body.
“The blood sugars can get really high and start damaging other organs," Kimball-Ravari said.
Around 7 million people don’t even know they have it, until it becomes critical.
“They can end up in the hospital with something called diabetic ketoacidosis or DKA,” said Kimball-Ravari. “It can be very serious.”
Diabetes requires extreme care to get glucose levels in the blood under control. When not controlled, diabetes can cause numerous critical issues.
“Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness, the leading cause of kidney failure requiring dialysis, the leading cause of non traumatic amputations that happen, from losing toes or feet, or limbs because of neuropathy, and the loss of the blood flow and loss of loss of the nerves in your in your extremities,” said Kimball-Ravari.
But a diabetes diagnosis does not mean all of these things will happen.
“Just because you get the diagnosis of diabetes does not mean that you're going to have eye problems, kidney problems, heart problems, nerve problems, you can work on this and get it under control and routine follow up routine lab checks, routine doctor visits can help prevent that," Kimball-Ravari said.
To find out if you are at risk for diabetes, visit KTBS.com and click on the Defeating Diabetes banner. Answer a few easy questions and in seconds you can find out what your risk is.
Willis Knighton Health System is hosting diabetic testing at two locations Tuesday at the Willis Knighton Innovation Center in Bossier and the W-K Fitness Center on Greenwood Road. Testing times are 7 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 5 p.m.