Are You at Risk for Diabetes?

March 23 is the annual Diabetes Alert Day®. Created by the American Diabetes Association, this special day is meant to be a “wake-up call” that focuses on the seriousness of diabetes and the importance of understanding your risk. More than 34 million people in the U.S. have diabetes. Read on to find out whether you may be at risk.

Diabetes occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Blood glucose can get too high when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas. Without enough insulin, there will be too much glucose in the blood, leading to health problems.

What’s your risk of type 2 diabetes?

The most common types of diabetes are type 1 (often called childhood diabetes), type 2 (the most common), and gestational diabetes (which develops in some women when they are pregnant).

Because type 2 diabetes is the most common and occurs most often in middle-aged and older people, let’s look at the risk factors for this type. According to the National Institutes of Health, you are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you:

  • Are overweight or obese, are age 45 or older, or have a family history of diabetes
  • Are not physically active
  • Are African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander
  • Have high blood pressure, have a history of heart disease or stroke, or have depression
  • Have a low level of HDL (“good”) cholesterol, or a high level of triglycerides
  • Have a history of gestational diabetes or gave birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or more
  • Have polycystic ovary syndrome, also called PCOS
  • Have acanthosis nigricans—dark, thick, and velvety skin around your neck or armpits

Symptoms of diabetes

Symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Increased hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Numbness or tingling in the feet or hands
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Unexplained weight loss

If you have type 2 diabetes, the symptoms often develop slowly—over the course of several years—and can be so mild that you might not even notice them. Many people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms.

Preventing type 2 diabetes

There’s no cure for diabetes, but you can take steps to help prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by losing weight if you are overweight, eating fewer calories, and being more physically active.

Talk with your healthcare professional about any of the health conditions listed above that may require medical treatment. Managing these health problems may help reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Also, ask your healthcare professional about any medicines you take that might increase your risk.

The information in this article is not intended to replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Talk to your doctor with questions about your health.

Source: National Institutes of Health

Categories: Senior Health