According to the CDC, more than 34 million people in the United States have diabetes, and 1 in 4 of them don’t know they have it. Let’s look at the signs, symptoms, and risk factors, so you can make better decisions about your health.
What is Diabetes?
If you have chronically elevated levels of blood glucose, you have diabetes. It cannot be cured, but it can be managed. You will need to take a few tests over several days to ensure that it is diabetes and not just a temporary spike in your blood sugar. It’s the result of either the pancreas not producing enough insulin or the body’s diminished ability to utilize the produced insulin. Glucose does not enter the cells and stays in the blood; the function of glucose is to provide energy, which happens when synthesized in the cells.
What is Prediabetes?
Prediabetes is when blood sugar levels are higher than they should be, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. If you have prediabetes, you are at a much higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. According to the CDC, 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. have prediabetes, and nearly none know they have it. You might say that being diagnosed with prediabetes is good news! It’s still at a point where you can take action to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes. But you need to act. Prediabetes should be your warning sign that you need to make some lifestyle changes to prevent diabetes. Check your prediabetes risk here: https://doihaveprediabetes.org/
Why should you be concerned about Diabetes?
There are many secondary health concerns that chronically elevated blood sugar can lead to:
- Kidney failure – as they work overtime to try and get rid of the excess sugar
- Heart disease – as high glucose levels can damage blood vessels and nerves that control your heart and blood vessels
- Foot problems – due to neuropathy, in the form of slow-healing cuts, sores, and skin infections
- Constant fatigue – as the energy is not released from the glucose
- Damaged nerve endings – characterized by loss of sensation, could even lead to stroke
- Retinopathy – leading to loss of vision
- Erectile Dysfunction in men
- People with diabetes spend more on health care, lead less productive lives, and miss more work and school than people without diabetes.
What are the risk factors?
It’s important to talk to your EPIC Health provider about getting regular blood sugar tests if you have any of the following risk factors:
- Being overweight
- Age 45 years or older
- Having a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes
- Being physically active less than 3 times a week
- You previously had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or gave birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds
- A diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome
What are the signs of diabetes to look out for:
Some of the symptoms of diabetes include:
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
- Unusual weight loss
- Extreme hunger pangs
- Increased fatigue
- Irritability, and
- Blurred vision
Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to many other, more serious, and even life-threatening health conditions. That’s why it is critical to ensure that your sugar levels stay well within limits. Talk to your EPIC Health team if you fall into any of the risk categories or experience the symptoms above. Your EPIC Health provider will work with you to develop a plan and decide how often you need the following:
- Blood pressure checks
- Cholesterol/blood fat levels
- Dilated eye exam
- Foot exam
- Urine test for kidney function
EPIC Health’s diabetic care and management services include reviewing your medical records and health history, looking at medications, regular blood sugar monitoring, diabetic-friendly nutrition planning, weight management programs, and routine health checks. We make sure that you understand and follow your treatment plan. For more information on diabetes and diet – check out our infographic “Diabetes Diet: Myths and Facts”