Twenty nine million—that is the number of Americans living with diabetes, and more than 8 million of them don't even know it, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Chances are you have a family member who is diabetic, and those chances are multiplied if you are a minority.
So, what exactly is this disease diagnosed in nearly two million adults each year?
Diabetes develops when there are abnormally high glucose or sugar levels in the blood, and it can lead to heart disease, blindness, amputations, and even death when not managed properly. But research has produced promising findings—a healthy lifestyle can cut your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for an estimated 90 percent of diabetes cases.
Educate yourself about diabetes, its risk factors and the preventive measures you can take today to avoid a troubling diagnosis later in life.
How does diabetes affect the body?
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are the most common forms of the disease. Your body naturally produces insulin to regulate the blood glucose level. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin. The condition, which is treated with insulin supplements, is prevalent among children and teens. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body cannot respond normally to the insulin it produces.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
Contact your doctor if you are experiencing one or more of the following symptoms:
- frequent urination
- excessive thirst
- extreme hunger
- unexplained weight loss
- extreme fatigue
- blurry vision
What are the risk factors for diabetes, and how can I lower my risk of developing the disease?
A family history of diabetes increases your risk of developing both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. While it is unclear how to prevent type 1 diabetes, research shows that obesity is a leading risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Lower your risk by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet.
If I have diabetes, what steps can I take to manage it properly?
- Keep your blood sugar (glucose) levels well controlled. Test your blood sugar to be sure it is in the target range set by you and your doctor. Take blood sugar medication as prescribed by your doctor.
- Ask your doctor if you should take low-dose aspirin along with cholesterol or blood pressure medicine to help prevent heart attack and stroke.
- Eat a healthy diet. The right nutrition is key to preventing and managing diabetes.
- Stay or become more physically active. Try walking for 30 minutes at least 5 days a week. If you're overweight, losing as little as 7 to 15 pounds can make a big difference in your health.
- Sponsored by: Dr. Reginald Mason | Kaiser Permanente of Georgia | www.kp.org
- Reginald Mason, MD
- Dr. Reginald Mason is the Total Health Lead for Kaiser Permanente of Georgia. He is board-certified in internal medicine, and specializes in critical care medicine and pulmonology. A graduate of Stanford University, he completed medical school and fellowship training at University of California—San Francisco. Read more about Dr. Mason at