The Details of Diabetes
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 30 million people in the U.S. have diabetes. Another 84 million American adults have prediabetes – higher than normal blood sugar that puts them at risk of developing diabetes. A 2018 report from the American Diabetes Association estimated diagnosed diabetes-related health care costs to be more than $327 billion a year. Roughly $1 out of every $7 spent on health care is used to treat diabetes and complications of the disease.
There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing diabetes. Ann Bonpensiero and Sandra Chmelnik, diabetes educators at Valleywise Health, help explain what diabetes is, what causes it, and what you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones.
What is diabetes?
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases defines diabetes as a condition in which blood glucose (blood sugar) is too high. The hormone insulin helps glucose move from the blood to the cells. When the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or doesn’t use it properly, glucose stays in the blood, resulting in diabetes.
Who is at risk?
Diabetes can affect anyone, but some ethnic, genetic, and lifestyle factors may increase one’s risk. These include:
- Certain ethnic groups:
- Native Americans
- African Americas
- Asians and Pacific Islanders
- Age – being 45 years or older
- Being overweight
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Family history of diabetes
- Personal history of gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
- Giving birth to a baby over nine pounds
- Having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
What health conditions have been linked to diabetes?
Diabetes is a manageable disease. However, uncontrolled diabetes makes it the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. Uncontrolled diabetes has shown to sometimes cause other health conditions such as:
- Heart disease
- Kidney failure
- Amputation of the lower extremities
What are common symptoms of diabetes?
Since not everyone with diabetes or prediabetes has noticeable symptoms, it is important to talk to your doctor and get screened. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Weight loss
- Extreme hunger
- Unexplained/sudden vision changes
- Tingling/numbness in hands/feet
- Chronic fatigue
- Dry skin
- Sores that won’t heal
- Contracting infections more than normal
What is the link between diabetes and cholesterol?
It’s common for a person with diabetes to also have high cholesterol and high blood pressure. This is generally a result of a being overweight, having poor eating habits, and living a sedentary lifestyle. Genetics may also be a contributing factor. Having both uncontrolled diabetes and high cholesterol greatly increases a person’s risk of suffering a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke.
“Many people with diabetes or pre-diabetes may not have noticeable symptoms, so they don’t know they have it,” said Bonpensiero. “This is why screening is so important, especially for people with any of the noted risk factors.”
Get screened today!
You can get screened for diabetes, including having your cholesterol levels checked, at any Valleywise Health location. Call 1-833-VLLYWSE (855-9973) to find a location near you.