Diabetes: What You Need To Know

Most adults are familiar with diabetes given its prevalence in our society. According to the American Diabetes Association, in Virginia, there are approximately 837,137 people diagnosed with diabetes, 2,213,000 people who have prediabetes and about 207,000 who have diabetes and do not know it (American Diabetes Association, 2017).

Diabetes Mellitus is broken down into four types. Type 1 which is when the pancreas is unable to produce the right amount of insulin, and type 2 which is when the blood glucose is not processed in the right way by the body. Gestational diabetes is when pregnant women have high blood sugar, and finally, prediabetes, which is when the blood sugar is high, however, not high enough for the actual diagnosis of diabetes and can be reversible (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, n.d). Although there are common symptoms of diabetes, it is not uncommon for some individuals to not experience any symptoms or to only experience a couple. Common symptoms include frequent urination, excessive thirst, unexplained weight loss, extreme hunger, sudden vision changes, dry skin, feeling tired most of the time, numbness or tingling sensation in hands or feet and increase in infections (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, n.d).

Diabetes is a chronic condition that carries many serious complications such as heart disease, stroke, amputation, end-stage kidney disease, blindness and even death (American Diabetes Association, 2017). If gone unnoticed or undiagnosed it can be life threating. This is why it is crucial to talk to your doctor and make sure you are screened for diabetes! The best way to do this is a quick lab fasting test called the fasting plasma glucose test (FGP) or a glucose tolerance test (OGTT) (American Diabetes Association Journal, 2002). Another way for your doctor to screen you would be by doing another blood test that does not require fasting which is called the A1C test. This test measures the average levels of the sugar in your blood over the last three months (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 2018). This test is most likely done during your annual physical, but it is essential to have that conversation with your provider and make sure you are in the safe zone in at least knowing your status. It is highly beneficial to be diagnosed earlier rather than later, in order to be able to make necessary lifestyle changes and decrease your chances of dangerous complications and increase your chances of living a healthy life.

The prevalence of diabetes is growing at an alarming rate in Virginia.  Accordingly, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institute of Health and the Division of Diabetes Translation at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have invested together approximately $4,862,221 towards prevention, interventions, and finding a cure (American Diabetes Association, 2017).

Remember: Many cases of diabetes could be prevented or minimized with a healthy diet and continuous daily physical activity.  But to be most effective in prevention, it is important to be screened.





American Diabetes Association. (2017). The Burden of Diabetes in Virginia. Retrieved September 22, 2018, from http://main.diabetes.org/dorg/PDFs/Advocacy/burden-of-diabetes/virginia.pdf

American Diabetes Association. (2002). Screening for Diabetes. Diabetes Care,25(Supplement 1). doi:10.2337/diacare.25.2007.s21

 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Diabetes. Retrieved September 22, 2018, from https://www.cdc.gov/media/presskits/aahd/diabetes.pdf

 National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2018, April 01). The A1C Test & Diabetes. Retrieved September 24, 2018, from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/tests-diagnosis/a1c-test