Are You at Risk for Diabetes?

Senior Man (Shutterstock Photo)
Senior Man (Shutterstock Photo)
In the United States, 79 million Americans are at high risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. (Shutterstock Photo)

Roger considered himself to be a healthy male in his mid-40’s. He recently noticed his skin was dry and itchy; he was often thirsty, and more tired than usual. Not overly concerned, Roger attributed these symptoms to a change in season; going from a hot summer to a very cool fall season. What Roger didn’t realize was that he was experiencing a few of the signs of Type 2 diabetes, a disease in which blood glucose, or sugar, levels are too high.

In the United States, there are 79 million Americans that are at high risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. Symptoms may include fatigue, thirst, weight loss, blurred vision, and frequent urination. But some people have no symptoms. In fact, one out of three people with Type 2 diabetes don’t know they have it.

Diabetes is a serious disease because it can lead to a higher risk for heart disease, stroke, nerve damage, eye and kidney disease. Getting diagnosed early in the onset of the disease and getting proper treatment reduces the risk or delays the onset of complications.

The good news is that diabetes can be prevented or delayed by knowing the risk factors and common symptoms of diabetes.

People who are overweight, living a sedentary lifestyle, and over the age of 45 should consider themselves at risk for the disease. African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and people who have a family history of the disease are also at increased risk.

Symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Thirst
  • Weight loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent urination
  • Cuts or bruises that are slow to heal
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet
  • Recurring skin, gum or bladder infections

Roger was scheduled to have a yearly physical and mentioned his symptoms to his primary care physician who ordered a blood test to check for diabetes. He was found to have pre-diabetes; a condition when blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. With close monitoring by his physician and simple lifestyle changes such as increasing his physical activity, incorporating more vegetables, fruits and whole-grains into his diet, and losing a few pounds, Roger will be able to delay or prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes.

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, pre-diabetes, or gestational diabetes, UConn Health Center’s Diabetes Education Program can help you understand and learn how to manage the disease. The program has been recognized by the American Diabetes Association and meets its national standards for self-management education programs. These standards ensure that the program is well organized and effective in providing the instruction and support needed by diabetes patients to manage the disease. The standards also ensure that the  program is comprehensive, well-staffed and designed to meet the individual needs of all the participants.

More information can be found on the Health Center’s Diabetes Education Program website or by calling 860-679-2273.

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