Nearly 1 of 4 adults, or 7.2 million Americans, are living with diabetes and completely unaware they have it. Another 84 million Americans have prediabetes, with 9 out of 10 unaware they have it. Prediabetes is when blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. If you have prediabetes, you are at a greater risk of having a stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
American Diabetes Association Diabetes Alert Day® is March 24, 2020. Observed annually on the fourth Tuesday in March, Diabetes Alert Day is a one-day “wake-up call” that focuses on the seriousness of diabetes and the importance of understanding your risk.
Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose from food get into your cells used for energy. If your body isn’t making any or not enough insulin, the glucose stays in your blood, never reaching your cells. Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause health problems.
These health problems include:
- heart disease
- kidney disease
- eye problems
- dental disease
- nerve damage
- foot problems
The most common types of diabetes are type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.
If you have type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, although it can appear at any age. People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin every day to stay alive.
If you have type 2 diabetes, your body does not make or use insulin well. You can develop type 2 diabetes at any age, even during childhood. Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes.
Gestational diabetes develops in some women when they are pregnant. Most of the time, this type of diabetes goes away after the baby is born. However, if you’ve had gestational diabetes, you have a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
Could you be living with diabetes and not even know it? You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you are age 45 or older, have a family history of diabetes, or are overweight. Physical inactivity, race, and certain health problems such as high blood pressure also affect your chance of developing type 2 diabetes. Assess your risk with the diabetes risk test. Take the risk test by visiting diabetes.org/risk-test. It is also important to schedule an annual wellness exam with your primary care provider to further assess your risk for diabetes or prediabetes.