The chances are good that you – or someone you know – has diabetes. That’s because, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the incidence of diabetes has more than tripled since 1980. If that disturbing trend didn’t catch your attention, consider these sobering statistics that the American Diabetes Association (ADA) is sharing as part of November’s American Diabetes Month.
Specifically, in the United States:
- Nearly 30-million children and adults currently have diabetes.
- Another 86 million have pre-diabetes and are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes by the Numbers
Type 1, which is the more rare form of diabetes, occurs when the body does not produce any insulin; as a result, injections of insulin are required daily.
Those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, don’t produce enough insulin, or their cells don’t properly use the insulin that is produced. As a result, glucose stays in the bloodstream. Over time, accumulated glucose can cause damage to the heart, kidneys, nerves, and eyes. Consequently, diabetics are at greater risk for heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, nerve disease, blindness, and amputations.
According to the National Diabetes Education Program, the risk of developing pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes increases for those who have one or more of the following characteristics:
- Getting little or no exercise.
- Being overweight by 20 pounds or more.
- Having a family member with type 2 diabetes.
- Being more than 45 years old.
- Giving birth to a baby weighing more than nine pounds.
- Having gestational diabetes during a pregnancy.
- Being African American, Hispanic American, Native American, Asian American, or of Pacific-Islander descent.
The ADA offers a 60-second assessment of your risk of type 2 diabetes: click on http://www.diabetes.org/are-you-at-risk/diabetes-risk-test/.
Contact a Physician
The ADA advises that a physician be consulted if any of the following symptoms are noticed:
- Frequent need to urinate;
- Increased thirst;
- Unusual weight loss;
- Extreme hunger;
- Blurry vision;
- Cuts or bruises that are slow to heal;
- Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet.
Screening for Diabetes
Anyone aged 45 or older should consider getting tested for diabetes, especially if you are overweight. If you are younger than 45, but are overweight and have one or more additional risk factors, you should consider getting tested. There are several ways to diagnose diabetes:
- A1C test – measures average blood glucose for the past two to three months. Fasting isn’t necessary.
- Fasting Plasma Glucose test – determines fasting blood glucose levels, which requires not having anything to eat or drink (except water) for at least eight hours before the test.
- Oral Glucose Tolerance test – this is a two-hour test that checks blood glucose levels before and two hours after drinking a special sweet drink. The purpose is to assess how your body processes glucose.
- Random Plasma Glucose test – also called a Random Plasma Glucose test, this test allows for a blood check at any time of the day when severe diabetes symptoms are presenting.
Research has found that moderate weight loss and exercise can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. Toward this end, ADA recommendations include:
- Eating a healthy diet – choose foods that are high in vitamins, minerals and fibers, as well as those that are low in fat, salt, and sugar. A balanced daily diet should include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low- or nonfat dairy products, lean meats, poultry, and fish.
- Exercising regularly – engage in physical activity for 30 minutes per day, five days a week. Suggested activities include walking, dancing, swimming, gardening, aerobics, and cycling.