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March 27, 2018 | by Tracey Graber RD, CDE

Today is Diabetes Alert Day, an annual reminder to learn more about type 2 diabetes risks and prevention. The bad news? One in three American adults is at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, a serious disease that can lead to complications like kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, blindness, and amputations. The good news? Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with lifestyle modifications.

Assess Your Risk with a One-Minute Test

To find out if you are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, take a simple and anonymous 60 second test from the American Diabetes Association. Answering a few basic health questions will help identify your potential risk factors, which could include:

  • Family history of diabetes
  • Overweight/sedentary lifestyle
  • Certain ethnicities, including African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, and Latinos
  • Low levels of HDL ("good" cholesterol)
  • High blood pressure
  • High levels of triglycerides

Know the Symptoms

Early diagnosis helps reduce the risk of serious complications of diabetes. If you are experiencing the following symptoms, talk to your doctor and get tested.

84 million Americans are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Take the 60-second risk test and learn more at diabetes.org/alertday
  • Increased urination and excessive thirst
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Hunger
  • Slow-healing infections, cuts or bruises
  • Skin problems like itchiness from poor circulation
  • Yeast infections
  • Fatigue and irritability
  • Blurry or distorted vision
  • Tingling/numbness

Common signs of diabetes and pre-diabetes can be mistaken for other conditions, so it’s important to discuss your symptoms with your primary care physician.

Lower Your Risk with Lifestyle Changes

You can take steps now to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. Many of these lifestyle changes can also lower your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and certain cancers.

  1. Eat well.

    Choose smaller portions of proteins and grains, and increase servings of vegetables, particularly leafy greens. Bring healthy snacks to work to avoid being tempted by mid-afternoon lattes or trips to the vending machine.

  2. Maintain a healthy weight.

    Try to reduce calorie intake, especially fat and sugar. Even losing 10-15 pounds of extra weight can make a difference. Set small goals for yourself, and create a support system by talking with friends and family.

  3. Get active.

    Low-impact exercise can provide health benefits. Go for a short walk, take the stairs, or take a break from sitting to stretch or walk around the office. Aim for 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week.

Resources

The Polyclinic offers comprehensive and expert diabetes care through our Endocrinology and Diabetes Education departments, including weekly Diabetes Education classes offered at The Polyclinic Madison Center and Northgate Plaza.

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