You May Have Diabetes and Not Know It


06.18.2020

Diabetes can sneak up on you without warning. It’s estimated 88 million American adults have prediabetes but 84% don’t know it.
 
“Lots of times people don’t know they have diabetes until they come into the hospital for another event,” said Palomar Health Diabetes Clinical Nurse Specialist Tamrah Jennings.
 
By then it may be too late to mitigate some of the damage done to your organs by the disease. During this month of Men’s Health Awareness Month, we are educating men on some of their top health issues. Early intervention is a key to managing diabetes.
 
The difference between prediabetes and diabetes is in the blood sugar levels. Prediabetes is when your blood sugar (or glucose) levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.
 
With proper management, prediabetes does not have to turn into diabetes even though experts estimate up to 75% of people with prediabetes will eventually become a diabetic. In any event, early detection is critical to healthy outcomes, which can be a challenge for men in particular. Research shows men don’t visit the doctor as often as they should due to cultural norms that imply men should tough out any ailments.
 
Signs and Risks
 
Men are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes at a lower weight than women because they carry fat in their bellies, one of the highest risk factors. Other risk factors include obesity, inactivity, race, family history, age and high blood pressure. Some signs you may have prediabetes or diabetes include feeling thirsty or hungry all the time, urinating often, extreme fatigue, blurry vision and tingling in the hands and feet. Delaying or ignoring diabetes can have severe consequences.
 
“It’s a very complex but very nasty disease,” Jennings said.
 
Diabetes puts you at greater risk for heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, erectile dysfunction and even amputation. Palomar Health patient Juan Cordova learned this the hard way. Ignoring his doctor’s treatment plan, Cordova continued his unhealthy lifestyle until ultimately his foot became infected with gangrene and it had to be amputated. He says he’s now finally taking the disease seriously.
 
Prevention and Management
 
Prevention and management for diabetes and prediabetes are much the same. Stay active, lose weight, eat healthy, manage cholesterol and blood pressure and visit the doctor often. If you’ve already been diagnosed with diabetes, you will work with your doctor to regularly check your blood sugar levels. Modern technology is helping to replace the traditional finger pricking.
 
Jennings says if you are genetically predisposed to get diabetes, you may not be able to prevent it entirely, but you can delay the onset and reduce the risk. She says as people get older, they naturally put on more weight and lose muscle mass so to counteract nature we must modify our eating habits and increase exercise. Specifically, Jennings recommends minimizing drinking sugary drinks including orange juice and starchy foods like rice, tortillas and potatoes and increasing strength training. She also recommends eliminating alcohol consumption.
 
“Diabetes and alcohol don’t go together,” Jennings said.
 
The best way to know if you have diabetes is to be tested at your doctor’s office through a blood test. Visit our Find a Doctor webpage if you need help selecting a doctor that’s right for you. You can also learn more about diabetes from our patient resources webpage.

Photo caption: Through early detection you can reduce the harmful effects of diabetes.
 
 


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