Millions of Americans have diabetes, and millions more are expected to get it.
Nurse Cheryl Snyder of the Cotton-O'Neil Diabetes Learning Center calls it an epidemic. In Topeka alone, she estimates there are 7,749 people with diabetes. She says 2200 of them don't know they have it. In addition, she says another 17,000-plus Topekans have pre-diabetes, elevated blood sugars which can lead to diabetes.
Most of those cases are Type 2, which usually develops later in life, and is usually linked to lifestyle.
Snyder says 85 to 90 percent of the population with Type 2 diabetes is overweight, either a little or a lot, or is inactive.
Trouble is, Snyder says, not everyone is overweight, and not everyone has symptoms to let them know they have diabetes. Snyder says you might feel tired, you might feel thirsty, you might have frequent urination, you might have infections or slowness to heal, or you might have none of those things.
To avoid complications like vision loss or amputation, diagnose it for sure with a blood test. It's recommended annually at age 45, earlier if you're overweight or there's a family history of diabetes. The best way to prevent diabetes is exercise. Snyder says studies show 30 minutes of walking just about every day of the week will reduce the likelihood of developing diabetes by 60 percent.
Snyder says it's important because the numbers of people with diabetes are expected to grow. She says current projections show one in three Caucasian children will develop diabetes, and one in two black and Hispanic children will develop the disease.
To test your risk of diabetes, take the quiz at www.diabetes.org/risk-test.jsp