About 90 to 95 percent of the 30 million Americans who live with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. About 15 to 30 percent of people with increased risk for diabetes (commonly referred to as prediabetes) will develop type 2 diabetes within just five years. Here’s what’s scary: Many of the 84 million who have prediabetes don’t know it. With prediabetes, an A1C test will show blood sugar levels are high, just not as high as type 2.
Talk to your doctor about your family history, how you live, plus possible risks and warning signs. Being over 40 and overweight, or, being African American, Asian, Hispanic, or Native American puts you at higher risk for the disease. The good news: You can make healthy changes to help prevent type 2 diabetes (or manage it better!). You’ll also lower the risks of blindness, heart attack, kidney failure, nerve damage, and stroke linked to it.
Get checked for prediabetes: If you experience any symptoms normally associated with type 2 diabetes, such as blurred vision (just one reason eye exams are so important!), see your doctor. (Pregnant women should see their eye doctor as well as their ob-gyn during the first three months of pregnancy. Gestational diabetes – high blood sugar while pregnant – can harm the baby.) Extreme or ongoing fatigue, increased thirst, or frequent peeing, are sometimes other warning signs, so see your doctor with any of those issues, too.
If you’re at risk for type 2 diabetes: Stop eating fast, fatty foods. Turn to lean meats (loin or round), skinless chicken, turkey, and fish, plus non-starchy veggies, low-fat or fat-free dairy or fortified soy milk, and whole grains. Swap sugary drinks for water. Skip candy, and have some fruit instead! Take a break from TV, video games, or screen time in general. Take family walks or bike rides. Dance! Play soccer or tag. Adults: Work out for at least 150 minutes per week. (That’s at least 30 minutes, five times per week.) Kids: Move for 60 minutes each day.
If you have type 2 diabetes: Learn what, how much, and when to eat. Check your blood sugar levels. Stay active. Lower stress. Keep doctor visits — and take the medicine that your doctor prescribes. See what types of foods tempt you. Know the excuses you use to stop exercising (and when). A health coach can also help you know what takes you off track — and how to get back on! Talk to others with diabetes, too. (You’re not alone.)
The number of American adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than tripled. (It’s also on the rise in youths under the age of 20, with about 24 percent of them diagnosed.)
You can help change that.
By Lisa Miceli Feliciano