Recognize the Warning Signs
Although awareness is growing that diabetes is a rising problem in the United States and a major contributing factor to health care costs, recent statistics are startling. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 30% of U.S. residents aged 65 years and older had diabetes in 2010, and 50% of U.S. adults aged 65 and older had prediabetes. Diabetes is not just a problem affecting older Americans. Each year millions of people are newly diagnosed with diabetes nationwide, and about one third of adults over 20 years old are estimated to have prediabetes.
Prediabetes is a term used to describe when a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to warrant a diabetes diagnosis. This condition leads to higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. One of the most important ways to protect yourself and loved ones is to recognize warning signs of prediabetes and take action if necessary. In some individuals, prediabetes may have no symptoms, but there are some warning signs and risk factors that can be present.
If characteristics in this list apply to you or a loved one, it’s a good idea to see a doctor for a blood glucose screening and check-up.
- Aged 45 years or older
- Overweight, with a body mass index higher than 25
- A family history of type 2 diabetes
- Heritage is African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Asian American or Pacific Islander
- Developed gestational diabetes when pregnant or gave birth to a baby weighing over 9 pounds
- Physically active less than three times a week
If you or a loved one are experiencing any of the symptoms below, it’s important to see a doctor right away for a check-up, as these may be signs of prediabetes or diabetes.
- Darkened areas of skin around neck and under arms
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Blurred vision
- Bruises or cuts take longer than normal to heal
- Tingling in hands, feet or legs
If left undiagnosed and untreated, prediabetes can have detrimental effects on a person’s health and will often lead to type 2 diabetes, which can have severe and even catastrophic consequences. “The good news is that with early detection, monitoring, and simple steps such as diet adjustment and increasing physical activity, individuals can often reverse the effects of prediabetes and avoid many negative outcomes,” said Dr. Gopika Gangupantula, family medicine physician and Diabetologist at Lone Star Circle of Care. “Regular screenings are an easy way to safeguard your health.”