Am I High Risk for Diabetes?

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Am I a high risk for diabetes? Regardless of age, this is the question we all should be asking ourselves.

With type 1 diabetes being more prevalent in younger people, type 2 affecting more middle-aged people, and gestational diabetes affecting pregnant women — it’s safe to say that no one is safe from a diabetes diagnosis.

In this blog post, we will dive deeper into the world of diabetes — discuss the risk factors, symptoms, and prevention/management.

Diabetes Risk Factors You Need to Know 

Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes have the same risk factors associated with them and in our previous blog post, we discussed how prediabetes isn’t an actual diabetes diagnosis. Prediabetes basically means that — if you don’t make a lifestyle change, then your chances of developing type 2 diabetes are much higher.

Prediabetes/Type 2 Diabetes 

According to the CDC, you’re at a higher risk for developing prediabetes if you:

  • Are overweight
  • Are 45 years or older
  • Have a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes
  • Are physically active less than 3 times a week
  • Have ever had gestational diabetes
  • Have given birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds
  • Are African American, Hispanic/Latino American, American Indian, or Alaska Native (some Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans are also at higher risk)

The same risk factors apply for type 2 diabetes, but it’s worth noting that if you have a non-alcoholic fatty liver disease then you may also be at risk.

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Gestational Diabetes

The risk factors for gestational diabetes slightly differ from the above. You are at higher risk if you:

  • Had gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy
  • Have given birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds
  • Are overweight
  • Are more than 25 years old
  • Have a family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Have a hormone disorder called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Are African American, Hispanic/Latino American, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander

Although gestational diabetes typically goes away after your baby is born, it increases your chances of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

 

“Your baby is more likely to have obesity as a child or teen, and is more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life too.”

— CDC, Diabetes Risk Factors

Type 1 Diabetes

The known risk factors for type 1 diabetes greatly differ from the other types. The risk factors include family history and age:

  • Having a parent, brother, or sister with type 1 diabetes
  • You can develop type 1 diabetes at any age, but is more likely to develop when you’re a child, teen, or young adult
  • White Americans are more likely to develop type 1 diabetes than African American and Hispanic/Latino Americans.

The risk factors are pretty cut and dry. It’s better to err on the side of caution and get tested frequently if you are at a higher risk.

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Experiencing These Symptoms? See a Doctor 

It’s hard to determine what type of diabetes you may have from the symptoms alone. In some cases, you may not experience any symptoms until it further progresses. Only a doctor’s visit and testing can tell.

The most common symptoms that should trigger a visit to the doctors are:

  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Excessive thirst
  • Unplanned weight loss
  • Extreme hunger
  • Blurred vision
  • Numb or tingling hands or feet
  • Fatigue
  • Dry skin
  • Slow-healing wounds
  • Frequent infections

People with type 1 diabetes may also experience:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain

With type 2 diabetes symptoms are hard to spot and develop over time. It’s important to know the risk factors and visit your health care provider if you have any of them. The earlier you know the more you can do to prevent, delay, or manage.

The same goes for gestational diabetes. The rule of thumb is to get tested between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy because, typically, that’s when gestational diabetes usually shows up.

 

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Be Smart and Do Your Part

Management

Diabetes is an incurable disease and if you are diagnosed with type1, type 2, or gestational diabetes management of the disease is necessary.

Your health care team can help you develop a diabetes self-care plan which may include:

  • Understanding your ABCS
    • A – A1C
    • B – Blood pressure
    • C – Cholesterol
    • S – Stop Smoking (If you do)
  • Follow a diabetes meal plan
  • Make physical activity part of your daily routine
  • Take your medicine
  • Monitor blood glucose levels
  • Develop healthy coping strategies

For more detailed information about managing your diabetes visit the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

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Prevention 

The good news is that if you are part of the 88 million American adults that have prediabetes then you can delay or prevent a type 2 diabetes — the most common type — diagnosis by considering the following:

  • More physical activity

Regular exercise has many benefits and can help increase your sensitivity to insulin, lose weight, and lower your blood sugar.

  • Eat more fiber

Foods high in fiber like fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains can help improve your blood sugar control, lower your risk for heart disease, and promote weight loss..

  • Make Healthier Choices

Living with diabetes comes with the possibility of serious health complications, such as nerve, kidney, and heart damage. Your chances of a stroke and heart attack increase as well.

Making the seemingly difficult choice of choosing fruit over pastries can make all the difference. This doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself every now and then, but it is in your best interest to make variety and portion control part of your diet.

  • Lose Weight

Type 2 and gestational diabetes both have a risk factor related to being overweight. Losing weight can greatly improve your health and aid in the prevention of developing diabetes.

 

“Participants in one large study who lost a modest amount of weight — around 7 percent of initial body weight — and exercised regularly reduced the risk of developing diabetes by almost 60 percent.”

— Mayo Clinic, Diabetes prevention

Putting It All Together

As stated above, it is your responsibility to “Be smart and do your part” to manage, prevent, or delay diabetes. Know the risk factors, incorporate more physical activity into your daily routine, and make healthier choices. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms, then schedule an appointment with your doctor and request a blood glucose test. Together we fight diabetes and make a difference.

Movement Unleashes Vitality!

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