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Primary, Secondary & Tertiary Prevention of Diabetes

Updated July 20, 2017

Diabetes is characterised by blood sugar problems, and it can lead to serious complications if left untreated. Diabetes can take a toll on just about every part of your body. With a little work, you can prevent many of the most serious diabetes complications or even head off the disease altogether. There are three stages of diabetes prevention, each of which kicks in for people at different stages of the disease: primary, secondary and tertiary

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Categories And Risk Factors

Patients with diabetes have problems producing or effectively using insulin in their bodies. There are three major categories of diabetes. Type 1, or insulin-dependent diabetes, usually strikes children, requiring them to have daily injections of insulin to stay alive. Type 2 diabetes usually hits adults older than the age of 40 and often doesn't require them to have insulin injections.

Those who are at risk for developing type 1 diabetes usually have family and environmental factors which play into the development of the disease. Rick factors for type 2 diabetes include being older than 40, being overweight, not exercising, having higher than normal blood glucose levels, and those with a family history of diabetes.

Some women develop the third category, gestational diabetes, during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes usually disappears after the pregnancy is over and can be prevented with the primary prevention methods.

Primary Prevention

Primary prevention starts before you're diagnosed with diabetes. It focuses on those who are at high risk to develop diabetes. The International Diabetes Federation says there's no evidence which shows type 1 diabetes to be preventable, but that preventing type 2 diabetes may be possible through a few simple lifestyle changes.

If you have any of the risk factors listed above, start primary prevention at home by watching your diet and exercising. Avoid sugary snacks and high-carb foods. If you're overweight, focus on losing a few pounds. According to the Mayo Clinic, losing just 5 per cent of your body weight reduces your risk of developing diabetes.

Secondary Prevention

Secondary prevention starts when diabetes is caught early in the disease. The International Diabetes Federation says if you watch your blood sugar levels when you're first diagnosed, you'll reduce the need for more serious treatment down the road.

Check your blood sugar after every meal. There are a number of blood sugar monitors, which make it easy to do this at home. Continue avoiding sugary and high-carb foods and watch your portion sizes. Calorie amounts vary from person to person, depending on your size and whether you're trying to lose weight. A dietitian will help you figure out how many calories you should be getting in each meal.

Tertiary Prevention

Tertiary prevention focuses on preventing serious complications in diabetics who have had the disease for a long time. Serious complications include anything from glaucoma, to foot problems, skin problems, heart disease.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says keeping your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol in the normal range greatly reduces serious complications. Also keep up with regularly scheduled foot exams, eye exams, and A1C tests. A1C tests measure your blood glucose levels in three-month increments.

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About the Author

Michelle S. Jones has been a freelance writer since 2006. She ghostwrites for John Carpenter Dealey and a number of websites. Her work also appears in In-Touch Online Magazine, and she's worked for NBC affiliates in Evansville, Ind. and Huntsville, Ala.

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