Watch out for signs of diabetes
Q: I've been losing weight. While I'm happy about being slimmer, I'm tired, thirsty, and go to the bathroom a lot. Could I have diabetes?
A: Seven million people in the United States are thought to have diabetes but are unaware of it.
The complications are so varied that even when symptoms do exist, diabetes may not be thought to be the cause. Don't automatically attribute fatigue to lack of sleep, or assume your greater need to urinate is from drinking too much liquid.
Diabetes can develop slowly over years and may be picked up only in an exam. If you have been on a diet but your weight loss comes with increased thirst, extreme fatigue, passing more urine than usual, and blurred vision, you may have diabetes.
Besides sedentary lifestyles and obesity, risk factors include fat distribution, inactivity, family history, being of Hispanic, African American, or Asian descent, and being over age 45. Anyone that age or older should consider getting tested, especially if you are overweight.
If you are younger than 45, but are overweight and have one or more other risk factors, consider getting tested.
Studies have found that many undiagnosed diabetics already have complications such as chronic kidney disease and heart failure, retinopathy (eye disease), and neuropathy (nerve related disease).
The good news is that diabetes prevention is as basic as eating more healthfully, becoming more active, and losing a few pounds-and it's never too late to start.
Moderate weight loss and exercise can prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes among adults at high-risk. Other ways to reduce your risk include eating plenty of fiber and whole grains, getting regular checkups, not smoking, and limiting your intake of alcohol.
Cynthia Wright, RN, CDE, is a certified diabetes educator at Mercy Philadelphia Hospital.