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Bivens column: November recognized as national diabetes month

Some 26 million Americans have diabetes, and 79 million have pre-diabetes according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Alabama rates in the top 10 of states with high diabetes rates, with 1-in-10 Alabamians with diabetes – believe it or not.
So, could you have diabetes and not know it? It’s possible. About ¼ of the people who have diabetes don’t know they have the disease.
Untreated diabetes can lead to serious health problems. That is why it’s important to have your blood glucose tested regularly. People who are at high risk need to be sure to be tested for diabetes. The following people are at high risk for getting type 2 diabetes:
• blood relatives of people with diabetes;
• women who have had babies weighing nine pounds or more at birth;
• women who have had gestational diabetes;
• African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans;
• people with impaired fasting glucose;
• people with high blood pressure;
• people with very high blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels;
• people are obese;
• persons over age 45 (risk increases with age); and,
• people who do not exercise regularly.
If you have diabetes but are not getting treatment, you are high risk for health complications. This includes the risk for heart disease, kidney disease, blindness and/or amputations.
Treating and managing diabetes can greatly decrease the chances of having these problems. It will allow you to have the energy to do things you enjoy.
All adults, 45 years of age and older, should be tested for diabetes. If you have one of the warning sign of high blood glucose, see your health care provider as soon as possible.
High blood glucose warnings include:
• constant thirst or hunger;
• need to urinate often;
• unexplained weight loss;
• dry, itchy skin;
• blurry vision;
• numb or tingling hands or feet;
• frequent infections that may take longer to heal; and/or,
• feeling very tired.
Remember, treating and managing diabetes now, can greatly decrease the chances of having many chronic diseases later. It will allow you to enjoy a healthier lifestyle. For more information call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2383), or visit their website www.diabetes.org.