Do you know risks, symptoms of diabetes?

Published 9:48 am Wednesday, March 26, 2008

By Staff
Are you aware of the symptoms of diabetes, and are you at risk for developing it?
Could you have diabetes and not know it?
Could you be at risk for developing diabetes?
The American Diabetes Association estimates there are more than 6 million people in the United States that have diabetes and don't know it, and, if trends continue, one in three people in the United States will develop diabetes in their lifetime.
Already, 20.8 million people live with diabetes and try to minimize the long-term effects of this disease that include a higher rate of death due to heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and limb amputation.
How can so many people walk around with a disease and not know it?
Often it is because they do not know the symptoms of the disease. They include being thirsty, the need to urinate often and weight loss without trying. A visit to a doctor's office and simple blood test can determine if diabetes is the cause for these symptoms. The blood test will determine the amount of the glucose in the blood.
People at risk for developing diabetes are on the increase also, due in part to the number of people who are overweight and obese. If you are an African American, Latino, Native American, Asian American or Pacific Islander, your risk is even greater. A fatalistic attitude about the diabetes affects a person's decision to be proactive in making lifestyle changes that could delay its onset, or completely reduce the risk of developing the disease.
Just because a relative had the disease doesn't mean that you will develop it. Although genetic factors influence a person's susceptibility to develop the disease, studies show that simple lifestyle changes can delay its onset or completely reduce the risk for developing the disease.
Know your Body Mass Index to determine if you are overweight or obese. BMI charts can be found online or on a visit to your health care professional's office ask if they will figure out your BMI.
Measure your waist circumference. Studies show that women of a waist circumference of greater than 35 inches, and men with a waist circumference of 40 or greater are at increased risk for developing diabetes.
Small lifestyle changes can have a big effect. Exchanging your regular soft drink for water at lunch can help you lose 10 pounds in a year. Making small changes in physical activity - from taking the stairs, to taking a 10-minute walk three times a day will help you.
Physical activity helps to reduce abdominal fat, reduces inflammation and improves insulin sensitivity.
The Diabetes Prevention Program (you can find it online at http//diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/ dm/pubs/preventionprogram/) recommends that individuals at risk for the disease do the following: