HANNIBAL — According to the American Diabetes Association, about 34 million people have diabetes in the United States, of which about 7 million are undiagnosed.
The percentage of people 65 and older with diabetes is 27% and 1.5 million people are diagnosed with diabetes every year. About 210,000 Americans under age 20 are estimated to have diagnosed diabetes, making up about 0.25% of that population.
Diabetes is one of the most common chronic illnesses that people develop and therefore the most important thing to do is to determine your own risk and get tested if appropriate. A few things to start thinking about are:
- What is diabetes?
- Am I at risk for diabetes?
- What can I do to prevent this condition?
- How can I be tested for diabetes?
“There are many different types of diabetes, but the most common types are type-1 and type-2 diabetes.” said Dr. Purvi Parikh, endocrinologist with Hannibal Regional Medical Group. “In type-1 diabetes mellitus, the problem is that the pancreas (an organ in the abdomen) does not make enough insulin early on and eventually makes no insulin. In type-2 Diabetes mellitus, the pancreas does not make enough insulin and the body becomes resistant to normal and/or even high levels of insulin.”
Some environmental factors that contribute to your risk of diabetes are physical inactivity, high caloric foods consumption, as well as genetic factors. Symptoms of diabetes include: The need to urinate frequently, increased thirst, increased hunger, dry mouth, fatigue, headaches, tingling/numbness in toes/feet and blurred vision. However, many people with type-2 diabetes may have no symptoms at all.
“Lifestyle interventions can help prevent type 2 diabetes in some cases. These lifestyle changes might include losing weight, following a healthy diet, and engaging in regular exercise,” Parikh said.
Lifestyle changes that can help reduce a person’s chance of developing type-2 diabetes are to perform at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week, pay attention to portion sizes, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and cut back on refined sugars and carbohydrates.
“People with risk factors for type-2 diabetes, such as excess body weight or a family history of the condition, should visit with a doctor about how to minimize their risk of developing the disease. Your doctor can assess your individual risk and make personalized suggestions on how to lessen the chance of developing diabetes or manage your condition,” Parikh said.
Screenings and timely diagnosis and treatment help prevent more serious complications of this disease. Chronic hyperglycemia (chronic high blood sugars) causes long-term damage of eyes, kidneys, nerves, the heart and blood vessels, which can lead to stroke, coronary heart disease and peripheral vascular disease. People should get tested for diabetes if you have any of the symptoms listed above, are overweight, over the age of 45, have a family history of diabetes, have a history of gestational (pregnancy-related) diabetes and/or have a history of polycystic ovarian disease.
Anyone who believes they are at risk for diabetes can call 573-629-3500 to get tested by their primary care provider. A simple blood test can help determine if a person has diabetes or pre-diabetes and appropriate, timely intervention-lifestyle change and/or medications can help treat or prevent this condition.