Diabetes is a serious disease, which, if not controlled, can be life threatening. It is often associated with long-term complications that can affect every system and part of the body. Diabetes can, among other things, contribute to eye disorders and blindness, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, limb amputation, and nerve damage. It can affect pregnancy and cause birth defects, as well.
Although diabetes is a chronic and incurable disease (with the exception of gestational diabetes), with proper medical care, clinical therapies, diet, hygiene, and exercise, symptoms and complications can be successfully treated and managed.
Have you been tested for diabetes? Diabetes affects an estimated 25.8 million people in the U.S. (90 to 95 percent have type 2 diabetes) – 18.8 million have been diagnosed, but 7 million are unaware they have the disease. Diabetes can be one of three types: type 1, type 2, or gestational. All three are metabolic disorders that affect the way the body uses (metabolizes) food to make glucose. Glucose is the main source of fuel for the body.
Who should be tested? People over age 45 should be tested for pre-diabetes or diabetes. If the first blood glucose test is normal, they should be retested every 3 years.
People under age 45 should consider getting tested for pre-diabetes or diabetes if they have a body mass index (BMI) of greater than or equal to 25 and have 1 or more of the following risk factors:
- Having a relative with diabetes (mother, father, or sibling)
- Being a member of a high-risk ethnic group (African-American, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, or Native American)
- Delivering a baby weighing more than 9 pounds, or having diabetes during pregnancy
- Having blood pressure at or above 140/90 mm/Hg
- Having abnormal blood fat levels
- Having a sedentary lifestyle
- Having impaired glucose tolerance when previously tested for diabetes
- Having polycystic ovarian syndrome
Ask your doctor about being tested during your next visit.