Diabetes: Are You at Risk?
There are 18.2 million people in the United States who have diabetes. It is estimated that only 13 million have been diagnosed, which means that 5.2 million people are unaware that they have the disease. If diabetes is poorly managed or left untreated, it can lead to life threatening complications including heart disease, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, nervous system disease, amputations, and dental disease.
Although the cause of diabetes is unknown, certain factors put a person at greater risk for Type 2 diabetes, which is the most common form of diabetes. Risk factors for diabetes include being over the age of 45, having a family history of diabetes, being overweight, and being sedentary or not exercising regularly. Certain ethnic groups such as African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans are at an increased risk for diabetes. Women who have had gestational diabetes, or who have had a baby weighing 9 pounds or more at birth also have a greater chance of developing diabetes. The warning signs of diabetes include excessive thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, blurred vision, constant hunger, numbness and tingling in feet, frequent infections, slow healing of wounds, and weight loss.
The Health Department has a new Diabetes Center that offers blood sugar screening and risk assessments for those at risk for diabetes. Other services include one-on-one nutritional counseling, group classes, diabetes support group, and community outreach programs. For more information about diabetes and the new Diabetes Center, contact the Health Department at 573-683-2191.