Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body does not make or does not use insulin properly. Carbohydrate foods are digested and become sugar in your blood. Insulin is required to carry the sugar to your cells for energy. Lack of insulin results in high blood sugar.
High blood sugar increases your risk for heart disease, stroke, vision loss, kidney disease and nerve damage. There is no cure for diabetes, but you can manage it.
Warning signs for diabetes include:
- A need to urinate often.
- Extreme thirst or hunger.
- Sudden weight loss.
- Blurred vision.
- Dry, itchy skin.
- Numbness or tingling in hands and feet.
- Slow healing cuts or sores.
Many factors increase your risk for diabetes, which include being 45 or older, being overweight, a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, lack of exercise, cholesterol problems, having diabetes while pregnant (called gestational diabetes), giving birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or more, and having a family background that is African American, Hispanic/ Latino, American Indian, Asian American or Pacific Islander.
What can you do to help prevent or delay the onset of diabetes? If you have prediabetes, eat foods that are lower in fat and calories, lose weight if you are overweight and increase physical activity every day. Changing your habits also lowers the risk for heart disease, certain types of cancer, arthritis and many other health problems. You will feel better and have more energy to do the things you enjoy.
If you think you’re at risk for diabetes, call your physician.
For information on diabetes, go to the American Diabetes Association website.