It's frightening to think you can have diabetes and not even know it -- but it's more common than you might think. In fact, it's estimated that 40 percent, that's one in four, American adults who have diabetes, don't know it. This statistic is especially alarming because undiagnosed and untreated diabetes can lead to serious complications including blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke and amputations.
This serious statistic results from a new study by researchers with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Almost all those who were suffering with the undiagnosed disease had type 2 diabetes. This type usually manifests later in life, or in obese people.
[ Exercising After Meals to Control Diabetes ]
Type 2 diabetes is widespread in seniors. Did you know for example that it affects nearly one-third of people 65 and older? Researchers also discovered 30 percent of American adults have pre-diabetes. This means their blood sugar is not yet in the diabetes range - but still too high to be healthy. Unfortunately, even pre-diabetes leads to an increased chance of having heart attack or stroke.
If you're wondering whether you might be among those undiagnosed with type 2 diabetes here are the symptoms:
- Needing to urinate more often
- Feeling very thirsty
- Feeling very hungry or tired
- Losing weight.
But even if you don't have any of these symptoms you can still have pre-diabetes. That's why it's important to get your blood sugar levels tested. In fact, medical experts insist everyone over the age of 45 should get a test. You should definitely speak with your doctor about having the test if you have any of the risk factors for either diabetes or pre-diabetes.
[ Doctor Visits Important to Managing Diabetes ]
Here are the risk factors:
- Having a family history of diabetes
- Being overweight or inactive
- Being a member of a high-risk group (for example, African American, Hispanic/Latino American, American Indian and Alaskan Native, Asian American, Pacific Islander)
- Having high blood pressure
- Having low HDL cholesterol or high triglycerides
- Having developed diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes)
- Having polycystic ovary syndrome
- Having acanthosis nigricans --which is dark, thickened skin around your neck or armpits.
Presently, there is no cure for diabetes but there are treatments that can help you prevent the most serious consequences of the disease. It's a good time for you to speak to your doctor and set up a blood sugar test.
If you're diabetes-free it will be sweet news. But it's always better to know what's going on in your body so you can take the medical action available to live a long and fulfilling life.
About the Author: Robin Westen writes about health for national magazines.
Also From ThirdAge: