At AdvantageCare Physicians, we understand that good health for many of our patients depends on preventing the onset of diabetes and the risk factors it may present. For some, a diabetes diagnosis may already be known, and the challenge is managing the condition to improve overall health. Others may have a person with diabetes in their life and just want to know how to be encouraging about important lifestyle changes. If you think you may be at risk of developing diabetes or already know you have it, read on to learn how our Care Teams can help you monitor your health and prevent potential complications.
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Diabetes is the most common endocrine system disorder and affects more than 30 million people in the United States. This disease occurs when blood sugar levels are consistently above normal and can be caused by your body’s inability to make insulin (Type 1), your body not responding to the effects of insulin (Type 2), or pregnancy (Gestational).
The primary risk for most adults is type 2 diabetes, and your chances of developing this condition depend on a combination of risk factors, including genetics and lifestyle. Although you can’t change risk factors like family history, age, or ethnicity, you can monitor your eating habits, physical activity, and body weight to decrease your risk. You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if one or more of the following describes you:
- Overweight, obese, or not physically active
- Age 45 or over
- African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander
- A family history of type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, heart disease, or stroke
- High blood pressure
- Low level of HDL (“good” cholesterol) or a high level of triglycerides (fat in your blood)
- Given birth to a baby weighing nine pounds or more
- Have polycystic ovary syndrome (hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age)
According to the American Diabetes Association, if you don’t have classic symptoms of diabetes (e.g., excessive thirst and urination), testing should occur at age 45 and continue at three-year intervals, especially if you are overweight or obese. If you are younger than 45 but have additional risk factors, you should be screened at an earlier age and more frequently. And, if you have prediabetes, an annual check-up should be considered.
Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to health complications like heart disease, stroke, vision problems, kidney failure, nerve damage, gastroparesis, erectile dysfunction, and skin problems. And, some of these complications can lead to severe consequences, including blindness, amputation due to poor blood flow, and even death. That’s why it’s critical that you get screened if you think you’re at risk.
If you believe you are at risk of developing diabetes, or that you may already have it, you should schedule a screening with your Primary Care Provider (PCP) today.