Diabetes: Are You At Risk?

Health & Wellness

November 29, 2018

Anyone can develop diabetes, so it’s important to know the warning signs. Early detection can lead to more effective management and possible reversal.

Some people who may have a family history of diabetes or are at risk due to other factors, such as weight gain, may get blood work done to check for diabetes during their yearly checkup. But there are other risk factors, and if you are not currently being screened for diabetes, here are the main symptoms you should pay attention to:

  • Higher frequency of urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Unexplained and increased hunger
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurry vision

And here are the later symptoms of untreated diabetes:

  • Slow- or non-healing cuts and bruises
  • Unexplained weight loss even if you’re eating more
  • Tingling or numbness in hands or feet

The best defense against acquiring full-blown diabetes is early detection, and the simplest screening is an A1C test that you can get at your yearly wellness examination. It can give you a picture of your average blood sugar control for the past 2 to 3 months, and you don’t need to fast before taking it.

The normal blood glucose level should be below 5.7, and any value between that and 6.4 is considered pre-diabetes, or borderline. Borderline diabetes should be checked every few months and can often be reversed by lifestyle changes, such as diet, weight loss, and exercise. Even an A1C value of 6.5 to 7.0 (considered to be diabetic) can be managed without medication through diet and exercise.

If you are overweight, losing even 10 to 15 pounds can help decrease your risk of diabetes by up to 50 percent. Exercise can be moderate — 30 minutes of brisk walking most days of the week can really help reverse or decrease your risk. As far as diet, reduce your caloric intake and amount of sugar, especially sodas, fruit juices, and alcohol.

In many cases, the treatment plan is a result of each patient’s individual preferences. However, the lower the A1C value, the more effective simple lifestyle changes will be. When the A1C value gets close to 10 or above, oral medication or insulin injections are recommended.

In any event, if you believe you have any of the symptoms listed above, please contact me or your doctor. In the meantime, the American Diabetes Association is also a good resource of information: www.diabetes.org.

Author of this article

Tiru Amin, MD, specializes in internal medicine. She is a guest columnist and located at IU Health Physicians Family & Internal Medicine, 4880 Century Plaza Road, Suite 265, in Indianapolis. She can be reached by calling the office at 317.216.2700.

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