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Type 2 Diabetes: Are You at Risk?

Diabetes is on the rise. According to a new study, 25.8 million Americans have the disease, and another 79 million have prediabetes. Diabetes can lead to bad health problems, like nerve damage, kidney disease, heart disease and stroke. In fact, diabetes causes more deaths each year than breast cancer and AIDS combined. Know the early signs and lower your chance of getting diabetes.

Know the Early Warning Signs of Diabetes

Diabetes often strikes without warning. Signs may be so mild that you might not notice them. If you have more than one of the below signs, talk with your doctor:

  • Feeling thirsty
  • Frequent urination
  • Feeling hungry, even though you are eating
  • Weight loss
  • Tingling, pain or numbness in hands or feet
  • Blurred eye sight
  • Slow-healing cuts and bruises
  • Feeling tired
  • Frequent skin, gum, bladder or vaginal infections

Understand the Types of Diabetes

Diabetes is a serious disease in which your body cannot make or use insulin the right way. Insulin is the hormone your body uses to break down sugar and fat.

Improper insulin use leads to high blood sugar levels.

  • Type 1 diabetes: The body doesn't make insulin at all. Children and young adults are more likely to have type 1. Only 5-10% of people with diabetes have this form.
  • Type 2 diabetes: The body can't properly use the insulin it makes. 90-95% of people with diabetes have this form.

Know the Risks for Type 2 Diabetes

Talk with your doctor if you have more than one risk factor: Risk factors include:

  • Having prediabetes (blood sugar levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to be called diabetes)
  • Being age 45 or older
  • Having a parent, brother or sister with diabetes
  • Being of Alaska Native, American Indian, African-American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian-American or Pacific Islander heritage
  • Having high blood pressure
  • Having HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) lower than 35 mg/dl or triglycerides higher than 250 mg/dl
  • Working out fewer than 3 times a week
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Giving birth to a baby heavier than 9 pounds or having a history of gestational diabetes
  • Having polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Having heart or blood vessel disease

What You Can Do to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

You can't control risk factors like your age, sex, family history or heritage, but you can lower your chances of getting type 2 diabetes by making some small changes.

In fact, research shows that you can lower your chance of getting type 2 diabetes by 58% by:

  • Losing 7% of your body weight
  • Exercising 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week

For more tips, visit www.diabetes.org.

Sources: American Diabetes Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health

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