- More than one in 10 Americans — or 34.2 million people — have diabetes.
- Around one in three adults — 88 million American adults — have prediabetes.
These numbers show the reach of the condition. But just as troubling are the estimates of how many people have diabetes or prediabetes and don’t know it yet:
- Of the 34.2 million Americans who have diabetes, one in five don’t know it.
- Of the 88 million US adults with prediabetes, more than 84% don’t know it.
The cost of living with undiagnosed diabetes
Untreated diabetes or prediabetes puts you at risk for many serious health problems. For example, persistently high blood sugars can damage your eyes, kidneys, nerve endings, and increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.
Maintaining blood sugar levels within goal and implementing healthy lifestyle changes can protect those with diabetes and prediabetes, however the first step in looking after yourself is determining if you are at risk.
Knowing your risk for diabetes will keep you one step ahead of developing complications. You’ll be able to make necessary lifestyle changes to protect yourself from the most serious health effects of the disease.
Are you at risk for diabetes?
If any of the following apply to you, the CDC says you’re at risk for diabetes or prediabetes:
- You’re African American, Alaska Native, American Indian or Hispanic/Latino American (some Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans are also at higher risk).
- You’re over the age of 45.
- You’re overweight.
- You’re physically active less than three times per week.
- You have a family history of diabetes (a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes).
- You have had gestational diabetes (high blood sugar during pregnancy) or given birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds.
If you have any of these risk factors, talk to your doctor. Ask them how you can manage your risk and if you’d benefit from a blood test to check for diabetes or prediabetes.
Signs and symptoms of diabetes
Another way to monitor for diabetes is to watch for the following signs and symptoms of the condition:
- Blurred vision
- Dry skin
- Excessive hunger
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination - often at night
- Numbness or tingling hands or feet
- Recurrent illness from common infections - such as yeast infections
- Slow-healing sores
- Unintended weight loss
These signs and symptoms can sometimes go unnoticed, so it is best to focus on your individual risk for diabetes.
Managing your risk for diabetes
If you’re at risk for diabetes, there are things you can do to prevent or delay the condition. In one study
, participants cut their risk for Type 2 diabetes by up to 58% through simple lifestyle changes.
Your primary care provider or family doctor can help you make a plan for a healthier lifestyle. Your plan will include eating healthy meals, getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every week, and losing excess body weight. Your doctor can also help you make other lifestyle changes, like getting more sleep or cutting out tobacco, to improve your health.
In addition to delaying or preventing diabetes, these healthy lifestyle behaviors are also the foundation of managing diabetes. In fact, making healthy food choices and being physically active is just as important for treating diabetes as insulin and other medical treatments.
Talk to your doctor about diabetes
If you want to know more about diabetes and your risk for the condition, a primary care specialist is your best source for information. You can talk to a primary care provider about diabetes during your annual wellness exam and schedule a diabetes or prediabetes blood test during the same visit if recommended by your doctor.
To learn more about your diabetes risk and how to manage diabetes, make an appointment with a primary care provider near you.