American Diabetes Month®
Who is at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes?
There are many risk factors for Type II diabetes, also called adult-onset diabetes. Some are genetic, but many can be controlled by lifestyle changes. Genetic risk factors include:
- Having a parent or sibling with diabetes
- Being older than 40
- Being of Native American, African-American or Hispanic descent
- Being a woman who has had more than one baby weighing more than 9 pounds at birth
It is worth the effort to make diet and lifestyle changes that can prevent Type II diabetes, particularly in people with one or more genetic risk factors. Some people can even reverse the course of Type II diabetes by making healthy lifestyle choices.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
Symptoms of diabetes can include but are not limited to:
- Blurred vision
- Excessive thirst
- Increased appetite
- Skin infections
- Tingling or numbness in the hands and/or feet
- Unexplained weight loss
What lifestyle changes can I make to prevent or reverse Type II diabetes?
The No. 1 thing a person can do to prevent Type II diabetes is to maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight interferes with the body's ability to use insulin to properly control blood sugar. High blood sugar can damage the body in many ways, such as blindness, impaired circulation and heart disease.
Reduce your risk by making a few lifestyle changes, including:
- Control your weight: Ask your doctor if you need help getting to and maintaining a healthy weight.
- Exercise regularly: Exercise makes it easier to lose weight and keep it off. It also lowers blood sugar and improves the body's response to insulin.
Have your blood sugar levels tested, especially if you have any risk factors for Type II diabetes. The earlier diabetes is detected, the easier it is to control.
What screenings and exams do I need if I have diabetes?
If you have diabetes, make sure you are up-to-date on all of your screenings. Your doctor can help confirm whether you are properly managing your disease.
Recommended screenings and exams include:
- Complete foot exam
- Dental exam – tell your dentist you have diabetes
- Dilated retinal (eye) exam
- Hemoglobin A1C test (average blood sugar)
- Urine and a blood test to check for kidney problems
It’s also important to get a flu shot if you have diabetes because you may be more vulnerable to complications if you catch the flu.