You may think you don’t have to worry about diabetes. However you could have the disease and not know it. One out of every four Americans does not know they have diabetes and 9 out 10 Americans do not know they have prediabetes. That is because the disease doesn’t always have symptoms that jump up and say “Hey! You have diabetes!” We don’t want to scare you but we do want you to remain healthy. Here is what you need to know about diabetes and how you can prevent it.

  1. The number of Americans who have the earliest stage of the disease is growing. In 2012, 86 million Americans age 20 and older had prediabetes, up from 79 million people just two years earlier. Fifteen to 30% of those with prediabetes will develop diabetes within five years.
  2. It is a disease that you can develop at any age. In fact, it is estimated that 208,000 Americans under age 20 have diabetes that has been diagnosed.
  3. Obesity, lack of exercise and a poor diet puts you at great risk for the disease- and it is not one to be taken lightly. According to the Centers for Disease Control, diabetes increases your risk of death by 50%!

Let’s look at the details.

There are two types of diabetes – Type 1 and Type 2.

  • Type 1 diabetes: The body doesn’t make enough insulin which it needs to get simple sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream into the cells. People with Type 1 diabetes must take insulin. Type 1 is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and used to be known as juvenile diabetes. Only about 5% of people with diabetes have Type 1.
  • Type 2: Most people with diabetes have Type 2, in which the body does not use insulin properly and does not keep it at normal levels. This type of diabetes does not require taking insulin. Most of these cases of diabetes can be prevented.

What causes diabetes?

Risk factors for diabetes include being overweight, a family history of diabetes, or having diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes).

What are the symptoms of prediabetes?

Usually there are no symptoms. In prediabetes, blood glucose levels are higher than they should be, but not at the level to be diagnosed as diabetes.

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

Some symptoms of Type 2 diabetes are mild and may go unnoticed for some period of time. Some of the classic symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Increased urination
  • Feeling very thirsty or hungry
  • Blurry vision
  • Cuts that are slow to heal
  • Weight loss even though you are eating more

How do I know if I have diabetes?

The only way to know definitively if you have diabetes is to be screened by your physician. A blood test will determine if your blood glucose levels are normal, prediabetic or high. If the first test shows levels higher than normal, it may be repeated the following day.

There are three different ways to test for diabetes and your physician will determine which is best:

  1. A1C
  2. Fasting Plasma Glucose
  3. Oral Glucose Tolerance Test

What do I do if I have prediabetes?

Along with your physician, you can adopt lifestyle changes that will reduce your blood glucose levels and hopefully prevent diabetes. You need to eat fresh foods, avoid high-fat, high-salt foods, and exercise. You can reduce the risk of developing diabetes by 58% if you: :

What do I do if I have diabetes?

  1. Work with our nutritionists to develop an eating plan that will manage your diabetes.
    1. One goal will be to ensure that your body has appropriate glucose levels throughout the day.
    2. Another goal may be to help you lose weight to improve your blood glucose levels, blood pressure and cholesterol.
  2. Start checking your glucose levels. Your physician will guide you.
  3. Get active. Walk! You don’t have to join an expensive gym. Just buy a good pair of sneakers and walk out the door! Walking will help you to manage your diabetes, keep your joints well lubricated and improve your heart health.
  4. Take your medicine. Your physician may prescribe specific medications to control your diabetes. Make sure you take them appropriately at the right time and at the right dose.
  5. Get support. Talk about your feelings. Being diagnosed with diabetes can be very difficult and change your life. There are many support groups. Your physician may be able to help you find one in your area, and you can find support through the American Diabetes Association.