Posted on November 03, 2015
Type 2 Diabetes: Are You at Risk?
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) reports that nearly 30 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes while another 86 million Americans have prediabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of disability and death in this country. It can cause blindness, nerve damage, kidney disease, and other health problems if it’s not controlled.
Symptoms and Detection
Early detection and treatment of diabetes can decrease the risk of developing the complications of diabetes. The following symptoms of diabetes are typical. However, some people with type 2 diabetes have symptoms so mild that they go unnoticed.
Common symptoms are:
- Urinating often;
- Feeling very thirsty;
- Feeling very hungry—even though you are eating;
- Extreme fatigue;
- Blurry vision;
- Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal;
- Weight loss—even though you are eating more (type 1); and
- Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2).
A simple blood test performed at your doctor’s office can determine if you are at risk for, or already have, diabetes. Before patients develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have a condition known as prediabetes—blood glucose levels higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
Doctors sometimes refer to prediabetes as impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or impaired fasting glucose (IFG), depending on what test was used when it was detected. This condition puts you at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
There are no clear symptoms of prediabetes, so, you may have it and not know it. Those with prediabetes may have some of the symptoms of diabetes or even problems from diabetes already. You usually find out you have prediabetes when being tested for diabetes. If you have prediabetes, you should be checked for type 2 diabetes every one to two years.
Discover your risk for developing diabetes with this simple test.
Long-term complications of diabetes develop gradually. The longer you have diabetes—and the less controlled your blood sugar—the higher the risk of complications. Eventually, diabetes complications may be disabling or even life-threatening. Possible complications include:
- Cardiovascular disease. Diabetes dramatically increases the risk of various cardiovascular problems, including coronary artery disease with chest pain (angina), heart attack, stroke, and narrowing of arteries (atherosclerosis). If you have diabetes, you are more likely to have heart disease or stroke.
- Nerve damage (neuropathy). Excess sugar can injure the walls of the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) that nourish your nerves, especially in your legs. This can cause tingling, numbness, burning, or pain that usually begins at the tips of the toes or fingers and gradually spreads upward. Left untreated, you could lose all sense of feeling in the affected limbs. Damage to the nerves related to digestion can cause problems with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. For men, it may lead to erectile dysfunction.
- Kidney damage (nephropathy). The kidneys contain millions of tiny blood vessel clusters (glomeruli) that filter waste from your blood. Diabetes can damage this delicate filtering system. Severe damage can lead to kidney failure or irreversible end-stage kidney disease, which may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.
- Eye damage (retinopathy). Diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the retina (diabetic retinopathy), potentially leading to blindness. Diabetes also increases the risk of other serious vision conditions, such as cataracts and glaucoma.
- Foot damage. Nerve damage in the feet or poor blood flow to the feet increases the risk of various foot complications. Left untreated, cuts and blisters can develop serious infections, which often heal poorly. These infections may ultimately require toe, foot, or leg amputation.
- Skin conditions. Diabetes may leave you more susceptible to skin problems, including bacterial and fungal infections.
- Hearing impairment. Hearing problems are more common in people with diabetes.
- Alzheimer’s disease. Type 2 diabetes may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The poorer your blood sugar control, the greater the risk appears to be. Although there are theories as to how these disorders might be connected, none has yet been proved.
Living with Diabetes
There is no cure for type 2 diabetes, but, thankfully, there are many ways it can be managed. Working with your care team, which may include your doctor, a dietitian, a pharmacist, and nurses, you’ll learn how to care for your body, including how to:
- Choose what, how much, and when to eat;
- Get physically active;
- Take medicine (if your doctor prescribes it);
- Check your blood glucose (if your doctor prescribes it); and
- Learn all you can about diabetes.
To address the number one item on the list above, the ADA, the sponsor of this month’s awareness event, recently announced this year’s theme: “Eat Well, America!” As the organization celebrates its 75th anniversary, it wants to share a timeless message—that eating well is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and enjoying delicious, healthy food helps with diabetes management.
This November, the ADA will show the nation how easy healthy eating can be. Each week, the association will share nutritious recipes selected by noted chefs and cookbook authors for every meal of the day, including snacks and special occasion treats. Not only that, but the ADA will teach you how to choose, prepare, serve, and eat healthy food that is both delicious and nutritious. From tip sheets to shopping lists, they’ll help you make healthy eating a fun and easy part of your daily life.
Looking to prepare a healthy Thanksgiving Day meal? The ADA will include seasonal recipes and tips to ensure you don’t miss out on the autumn and holiday flavors you love. Additionally, the organization will spotlight what healthy, simple, and enjoyable meals look like on National Healthy Lunch Day, November 17. On this day, the ADA will show Americans how to “Lunch Right with Every Bite” and make better food choices to counter expanding waistlines, whether you are packing a lunch at home or purchasing lunch on the go.
Visit diabetesforecast.org/adm or call 1-800-DIABETES for meal planning, shopping tips, grocery lists, chef’s preparation secrets, delicious recipes, and more.
If you have any diabetic health concerns, or questions about any healthcare issue, contact the primary care providers at Coastal Carolina Health Care by calling (252) 633-4111 or visiting www.cchchealthcare.com. You can also contact CCHC New Bern Internal Medicine Specialists at (252) 633-5333 to schedule an appointment with Dr. David Herminghuysen.
(Sources: American Diabetes Association, National Diabetes Educational Program, National Institutes of Health, Mayo Clinic, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)