Daily needle pricks are not routine in the lives of college students, but diabetes can make this task potential. According to the NewYork-Presbyterian web site, Diabetes- a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other foods into necessary energy for daily living- affects 2.3 million blacks or 10.8 percent of the total population.
There are three major types of diabetes: Type one, where the body’s immune system destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas; Type two, which is most common in the black community, is distinguished by insulin resistance and relative insulin deficiency; GDM, Gestational diabetes mellitus, is a carbohydrate intolerance that affects a mother during late pregnancy.
“Type two diabetes is the most prevalent form among African Americans, but it can be prevented,” said Michael Smith, a public health epidemiologist.
Smith said that if students start curtailing their diet of fast-foods, sweets and soda, the risk is reduced. Family history is also a heavy influence of Type two. If diabetes runs in the family, students should be more watchful and have their blood sugar checked regularly.
“If not managed properly, students should know that common symptoms include blindness, kidney failure and fatigue,” said Smith.
According to the Congressional Black Caucus Agenda for the 109th Congress, blacks are two times more likely to have diabetes than whites.
“Lifestyle is a major factor of diabetes. It is important to eat properly, exercise and not drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes, because it catches up with you,” said Miaisha Mitchell, director of “Diabetes and You in Greater French Town Tallahassee.” Drinking more water is another healthy choice.
“I was a Type one diabetic, but due to weight lost, I no longer have diabetes,” said Dwayne Lafavor, a 20-year-old junior education administration student from Fort Lauderdale. Lafavor lost weight by exercising three times a week while on a low-carbohydrate diet.
“I pricked my finger daily, once before breakfast and dinner,” Lafavor said about his old required routine, which is required of individuals with diabetes,in order to check their blood sugar levels.
According to the American Diabetes Association, a diabetic coma is a severe emergency in which a person is not conscious because the blood glucose (sugar) is too low or too high. If the glucose level is too low, the person has hypoglycemia; if the level is too high, the person has hyperglycemia and may develop ketoacidosis, or a diabetic coma.
“In my junior year of high school, I went into a diabetic coma; this was my inspiration to lose weight and become healthy,” Lafavor said about his life-threatening experience.
Smith and Mitchell both agree that diabetes is not a death sentence, but it requires proper management through diet and exercise.
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