According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), 25.8 million Americans have diabetes — 90 to 95 percent of the cases are type 2. Further magnifying the problem is that there are 7 million undiagnosed cases, and many of the people who are undiagnosed don’t realize that they’re in danger. That's because all but the most serious cases of diabetes may manifest with symptoms that seem harmless — like thirst and fatigue.
Prediabetes, which means that your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be classified as type 2, is also a serious health problem. Studies show that 79 million Americans have prediabetes, which puts them at greater risk of developing full-blown type 2 diabetes as well as cardiovascular disease. November marks American Diabetes Month, and the ADA encourages you to be proactive and take steps to reduce your risk of getting this potentially debilitating disease. The first step is educating yourself about the risk factors.
People with type 2 diabetes have too much glucose (sugar) in their blood and not enough insulin to break it down. Large concentrations of blood glucose can cause irreparable damage to the kidneys, eyes, and nervous system. You should be aware of the following risk factors:
- Obesity or being overweight
- High blood pressure (above 130/80)
- Insulin resistance
- Impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose
- Inactivity or a sedentary lifestyle
- Family history of diabetes
- History of gestational diabetes
- Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)