Diabetes Warning Signs and Prevention

Did you know one in four Americans with diabetes doesn’t know they have it? Symptoms of type 2 diabetes are often attributed to several other causes and sometimes don’t show at all. A person might describe the onset of diabetes as “feeling off.” The main symptoms include frequent urination, unusual thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, extreme fatigue, and irritability.

Early detection is crucial for successful management of diabetes. The earlier it’s diagnosed, the better your chance to control diabetes through diet, rather than medications like insulin; however, your doctor will provide the best course of action for your particular situation.

Knowing what risk factors you have is one key step to prevention. The more risk factors you have, the greater your chance for developing the condition.

Risk factors for diabetes include:

  1. Family history
  2. Age 45 and over
  3. African American, Hispanic, Native American, or Asian ethnicities
  4. Metabolic syndrome
  5. Body mass index over 25
  6. High blood pressure
  7. Abnormal cholesterol levels
  8. Lack of physical activity
  9. History of gestational diabetes

Don’t let these risk factors scare you, but understand that diabetes is a real health threat. Unlike other diseases that have reduced in prevalence with modern medicine, diabetes is still on the rise in the United States.

Here are the top three things you can do today to prevent or better manage diabetes:

  1. Get an annual physical to test blood glucose and examine your risk of developing diabetes. Often, if your blood glucose is above 100, your doctor or screening vendor may recommend an A1c test, which shows a more accurate picture of your blood sugar over the last three months.
  2. Eat sugar very sparingly. All forms of sugar have different impacts on blood glucose and your eventual risk for diabetes, so limit artificial sweeteners as well.
  3. Move more. Start with 10 minutes of physical activity a day if you are not currently exercising, and slowly increase to 30-minute sessions three to five times per week.

Having tools and knowledge on your side are your first steps to preventing diabetes. This month, keep this aspect of your physical health on the forefront of your mind.

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