According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control, one in four Americans with diabetes doesn’t even know he or she has the disease. Many people without health insurance don’t seek medical care for diabetes symptoms until serious complications occur. But even with insurance, the first symptoms of Type 2 diabetes can be so subtle that many people write them off as stress-related.
Rates of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are on the rise. Diabetes complications can be severe and even life-threatening, but when the disease is diagnosed early and treated, complications can be avoided. Learn the early warning signs of diabetes, make preventive care a priority and find room for medication in your budget by ordering them from an affordable, trusted online pharmacy.
Diabetes Cases on the Rise
According to the most recent data from the CDC, 9.3 percent of Americans — 29 million people — have diabetes. That’s an increase of three million since 2010. An additional 86 million American adults — over one-third — suffer from pre-diabetes, a symptom-free condition in which blood sugar levels are too high but not quite high enough to be considered Type 2 diabetes. Fifteen to 30 percent of people who have pre-diabetes develop the full-blown condition within five years, if they don’t take steps to improve their health through moderate exercise and weight loss.
Diabetes rates are climbing among both adults and children. In 2012, 1.7 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed in people over 20 years of age. The same year, 208,800 new cases of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes were diagnosed in people less than 20 years of age. People of Hispanic, American Indian, Alaska Native and non-Hispanic black descent are twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to be diagnosed with diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that usually occurs in childhood, although it has been recently discovered that Type 1 diabetes can also occur in adulthood. Doctors don’t yet understand what causes Type 1 diabetes. Most cases of Type 2 diabetes are linked to obesity, although age, ethnicity, diet, lifestyle and other factors can contribute to the disease. About 5 percent of people with Type 2 diabetes are not overweight or obese.
Early Signs of Diabetes Can Be Hard to Spot
Despite rising diabetes rates, CDC experts estimate that 25 percent of Americans with diabetes don’t know they have the disease. The early warning signs of diabetes can be subtle and include frequent thirst and urination, hunger, irritability, fatigue and unusual weight gain or weight loss. When taken without the context of diabetes, these symptoms can seem harmless, and many people chalk them up to stress or getting older. However, it’s important that you know the symptoms of diabetes, especially if you have a family history of the disease or other risk factors, because diabetes complications can be life-threatening. They can include serious damage to the heart and blood vessels, nerves, kidneys, blindness, amputation of the feet and legs, mouth and skin conditions, osteoporosis, hearing problems and Alzheimer’s disease.
You Can Prevent Diabetes Complications
Of course, the best way to prevent diabetes complications is to prevent the disease itself. Regular physical exercise and a diet that consists of plenty of fiber, whole grains, fruits and vegetables can protect you from Type 2 diabetes. If you’re overweight, losing even a small amount of weight — even just 7 percent of your total body weight — and exercising regularly can reduce your risk of developing diabetes by as much as 60 percent.
If you have risk factors for Type 2 diabetes or are over age 45, you should talk to your doctor about having your blood glucose screened regularly. If you are one of the 86 million American adults with pre-diabetes, you need to know about it before it progresses into full-blown diabetes. Lifestyle changes at the pre-diabetic stage could keep you from developing diabetes at all.
Early diagnosis of diabetes is crucial for the successful treatment and management of the disease. People with Type 1 diabetes need to take insulin every day because their body does not produce it. People with Type 2 diabetes produce insulin, but either they don’t produce enough or their body can no longer recognize and use the insulin they produce, a condition known as insulin resistance. Either way, diabetes medication, along with diet and exercise if your doctor recommends it, can control the symptoms of diabetes and protect you from diabetes complications.
Could you be one of the more than seven million Americans who has diabetes and doesn’t even know it? Know the early warning signs of diabetes so you can get treatment for this disease before complications arise. Get regular checkups and blood sugar screenings, especially if you have risk factors for diabetes. Treatment can help you live a normal life and avoid serious complications — but not if you don’t know you need it.