Diabetes affects millions and many don’t know they are at risk.
November is American Diabetes Month. Chances are you know someone who has diabetes, a metabolic disorder affecting more than 37 million Americans, including those who have the disease but have not been diagnosed.
Diabetes is a chronic medical condition that occurs when excess glucose (sugar) builds up in the blood. It can cause numerous health problems if not properly managed. Some symptoms of diabetes may seem so insignificant that you may not even notice them for months or years – but being diagnosed early is key to a lifetime of better health.
If left untreated, long-term diabetes complications include cardiovascular disease, such as heart attack, stroke and narrowing of the arteries, according to dietitian Katy Stemple, manager of the Abrazo Health Medical and Surgical Weight Loss Program.
“The increase in diabetes in adults worldwide has quadrupled over the last few decades. The connection with heart and blood vessel damage is undeniable,” Stemple said.
While there isn’t a cure yet for diabetes, the CDC says that losing weight, eating healthy food, and being active can really help.
“Type 2 diabetes, which typically is diagnosed in adults and accounts for between 90-95% of all diagnosed cases, can increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, stroke, peripheral artery disease and kidney disease,” Stemple said. “In the last 20 years, the number of adults with diabetes has more than doubled as the American population has become more overweight or obese.”
According to the American Diabetes Association, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in people living with diabetes, resulting in two-thirds of deaths in people with type 2 diabetes.
“The good news is that with proper exercise, diet and diabetes management, you can reduce your risk of getting cardiovascular disease and the complications that come with it,” Stemple said.
Symptoms of diabetes will vary to some extent depending on the type. Classic symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes include excessive thirst and increased urination. This occurs because your kidneys have to work overtime to filter and absorb surplus sugar that has built up in the blood.
Other common signs of diabetes include fatigue, unexplained weight loss and blurred vision. Fatigue may be caused by increased urination resulting in dehydration and the body’s inability to properly use sugar for energy.
People with diabetes also may have slow-healing sores, tingling or numbness in the hands and feet and tender gums. Nerve damage caused by high sugar levels can make your hands and feet tingle, or you might experience burning pain in your arms, hands, legs and feet.
The good news is diabetes can be successfully treated. Talk with your doctor if have questions or suspect any symptoms. For more information about diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association at diabetes.org.
For a physician referral or to learn more about the Abrazo Medical and Surgical Weight Loss program, visit AbrazoHealth.com.