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Lowering your risk of diabetes

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Currently, there are close to 26 million adults and children living with diabetes in the United States. Less than 5-10% of them are type 1 diabetics; the remaining 90-95% is type 2 diabetics. In type 1 diabetes, which is usually seen in children, the pancreas stops working and the person becomes dependent of daily insulin to survive. In contrast, type 2 diabetics are often older and their pancreas is not fully functioning. They may be able to treat their condition with a variety of options, including diet, lifestyle changes, oral medications, and in some case, insulin injection as well.

Risk factors for diabetes include the following:

· Age over 45 years old

· Overweight/obesity

· Family history of diabetes

· Inactivity

· High levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, and high blood pressure

Symptoms of diabetes include the following:

· Frequent urination

· Extreme hunger

· Excessive thirst

· Frequent and recurrent infections

· Numbness and tingling of hands and feet

There are many things a person can do to lower their risk of diabetes. Most importantly, you should “know your numbers”, meaning you should be tested for diabetes (as well as blood pressure and cholesterol levels). The acronym, “ABC” (as in Know your ABCs), reflects the following: A= A1C which is a diabetic blood test; B= blood pressure, and C= Cholesterol. A normal hemoglobin A1C is less than 5.7%; diabetes is confirmed with a test result greater than 6.5%.

In addition to testing, a person can make simple lifestyle changes in diet and activity to lower their risk of diabetes. Weight loss of 5-7% can reduce the risk of diabetes. Increasing daily activity (with an aim for 150 minutes of activity a week) also has a positive impact on overall health. A healthier diet, smoking cessation, and good sleep habits are all beneficial to a better quality of life.

For more information on diabetes, check with your local chapter of the American Diabetes Association.

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