Diabetes has become an epidemic. It is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, and it is estimated that 7 million people in the U.S. are unaware they have it. The good news is that diabetes can be managed and even prevented with a few lifestyle changes, and as part of American Diabetes Month, Americans are encouraged to learn more about diabetes.
Those with diabetes are unable to make or properly use insulin. Certain factors place individuals at a higher risk for developing the most common form, Type 2 diabetes.
Am I at Risk?
Risk factors include older age, obesity, a family history of diabetes, history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose metabolism, physical inactivity and race or ethnicity. African-Americans, Hispanic/Latino-Americans, American Indians and some Asian-Americans and Native-Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders are at particularly high risk for Type 2 diabetes and its complications.
What Are Symptoms of Diabetes?
Americans who are unaware they are living with diabetes may feel their symptoms are harmless or may not even have symptoms, and thus diabetes goes undiagnosed. If you have any of the common symptoms of diabetes — such as extreme fatigue, unusual thirst, frequent urination, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss or frequent infections or cuts and bruises that heal slowly — visit a health care physician.
How Can I Prevent or Manage Diabetes?
Research has shown that weight loss through moderate diet changes and increased physical activity play a large role in preventing or delaying diabetes and its complications, which include heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, nerve damage and other health problems. A registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) is one of your best resources for developing a plan to make these lifestyle changes.