November is National Diabetes Month. Did you know that an estimated 29 million Americans have diabetes and about 8 million of those individuals are undiagnosed? That’s about 9% of the American population with diabetes and this number has increased by almost 50% over the past decade. Over 200,000 of those people are under the age of 20. Diabetes results in about $295 billion in medical costs. This is a huge issue that is only getting worse and needs to be addressed.
We want to ensure you are equipped with the necessary knowledge needed to understand all aspects of diabetes, including the risk factors, symptoms, and steps for prevention.
Diabetes is a metabolic disease in which an individual is incapable of producing any or enough insulin, resulting in increased levels of glucose in the blood. Basically, your body doesn’t process food for use of energy. When we eat, most of our food is converted to glucose, and the pancreas makes insulin in order to help glucose be absorbed into our cells. With diabetes, the body can’t produce insulin or make enough in order for that to happen, so sugar becomes built up in the blood. This can cause a number of health issues ranging from heart disease to blindness to kidney failure.
Listed below are some of the most common risk factors for developing diabetes.
- Being overweight
- Having a parent or sibling with diabetes
- Being African American, American Indian, Asian American, Pacific Islander, or Hispanic American/Latino heritage.
- Having a prior history of gestational diabetes or birth of at least one baby weighing more than 9 pounds.
- Having high blood pressure measuring 140/90 or higher.
- Having abnormal cholesterol with HDL (“good”) cholesterol is 35 or lower, or triglyceride level is 250 or higher.
- Being physically inactive—exercising fewer than three times a week.
If you are concerned about diabetes, then you need to be checked out by your physician because they can run specific tests to see if you have it. Here are some of the most common symptoms that people may or may not experience if they have diabetes.
- Frequent urination
- Extreme hunger
- Constant fatigue
- Excessive thirst
- Unexplained weight loss
- Tingling or numbness in the hands/feet
- Sudden vision changes
- Very dry skin
- Slow healing cuts or sores
Steps for Prevention
Stay active and eat healthy! That’s really the best thing you can do. Research has shown that those who are at high risk of developing diabetes can potentially prevent the disease entirely just by doing at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week while maintaining a healthy stable diet.