Diabetes is a serious disease that occurs when your body is unable to use or produce enough insulin, a hormone that converts glucose into energy. Our bodies break down the food we eat into glucose. Without the necessary amount of insulin, glucose builds up in your blood, leading to higher than normal blood sugar levels. Diabetes can cause serious medical conditions, including heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.
What are the symptoms?
If you suspect you have diabetes, visit a physician for a diagnosis. People with diabetes may experience the following symptoms:
Unexplained weight loss
Sudden changes in vision
Numbness or tingling in extremities
More infections than usual
Am I at risk?
More than one in three Americans have prediabetes, a precursor to diabetes. Consider getting tested for diabetes if you have any of the following risk factors:
Diabetes runs in your immediate family.
You’re African-American, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, or Pacific Islander.
You’ve had gestational diabetes or have given birth to a child that weighed more than nine pounds.
Your blood pressure is 140/90 mm/Hg or higher.
You have abnormal blood fat levels, i.e. low good cholesterol or high triglycerides.
You live a sedentary or inactive lifestyle.
You’ve experienced impaired glucose tolerance when previously tested for diabetes.
You have polycystic ovarian syndrome.
You’ve been diagnosed with obesity.
You’ve already been identified as pre-diabetic and haven’t been tested for diabetes recently.
What can I do?
Take this simple online test to see if you have a predisposition for prediabetes. If left unchecked, about 30 percent of prediabetic people develop type 2 diabetes within five years.
If you’re experiencing symptoms or have a high risk for diabetes, consult your primary care physician for diagnosis and treatment options. Research shows that regular physical activity and healthy eating significantly reduce your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, which is often associated with obesity.