Why should I be aware of diabetes?

You may ask yourself, “Why should I be aware of diabetes?” Well, one in ten Americans have diabetes. Another 84 million are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Many people are at risk and may not know it, especially in the early stages when symptoms may not be present.

Diabetes is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the U.S. Risk factors associated with developing diabetes include sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, being overweight and having a family history of diabetes. The good news is people who are at risk for diabetes Type 2 can decrease their risk if they make lifestyle modifications. They can begin by eating healthier, daily exercising and losing weight.

The pancreas normally produces insulin to lower blood glucose (sugar). When there is insufficient or absent production of insulin, the body loses its ability to properly use insulin, which leads to high levels of glucose in the blood. This results in diabetes. It is a chronic condition and overtime, it can cause nerve damage, kidney disease, blindness, and increasing risk for heart disease if not controlled.

How can you screen for diabetes? It is important to test your fasting blood sugar at least once a year or during the annual physical exam. The fasting blood sugar test is the preferred method of screening. Normal range is 70-100 mg/dl. You must fast for at least 8 hours. This test is easy to perform and can be done conveniently in the office. A single drop of blood is drawn and the test takes approximately 2 minutes to result.