Diabetes: What you should know

By Dr. Patricia Hayes


Diabetes is a condition where your blood contains too much sugar. This is because the body either has too little of a hormone called insulin, which causes Type 1 diabetes or doesn’t respond correctly to this hormone, which causes Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes and accounts for up to 95 percent of all cases. The American Diabetes Association estimates that nearly 30 million people, or almost 10 percent of the nation, is affected with diabetes.

Therefore, it’s important to understand the risk factors.

Diabetes risk factors

Risk factors for acquiring diabetes include, obesity, being over age 45, having a family history of diabetes, being African American, Asian American or Hispanic/Latino, having high blood pressure, having a history of gestational diabetes, giving birth to a baby greater than nine pounds or having a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Diabetes prevention

You can help prevent diabetes by maintaining a healthy weight, being active by exercising at least 30 minutes for 5 days a week and eating healthy.

Diabetes symptoms

Most people with diabetes do not have any symptoms and do not know they have diabetes until they are checked or develop complications. Some common symptoms, if they exist, are increased thirst and urination, increased hunger, fatigue, blurred vision, numbness or tingling in the feet or hands, sores that do not heal, unexplained weight loss or recurrent yeast infections.

If you are diagnosed with diabetes, treating it immediately and consistently is key.

Treating diabetes

Treatment can help prevent complications and keep you healthy. Some treatments may include prescription medications such as pills or injections (insulin), but some patients may benefit from exercise and dietary changes, alone.

Complications from untreated and uncontrolled diabetes can be severe and may include kidney failure or damage, blindness, circulatory problems leading to heart attack, stroke, amputation or sexual dysfunction, tooth loss and nerve damage leading to pain and weakness. Therefore, it is important to talk to your doctor to discuss your risk for diabetes and to determine if you need to be tested.