Salt Lake City – Right now, an estimated 45,000 Utahns have a potentially deadly disease―diabetes―and don’t even know it. The Utah Department of Health , in honor of Diabetes Alert Day, wants to help those people know the signs and symptoms.
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that causes blood sugar to rise above normal levels. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and amputations. More than 120,000 Utahns have been diagnosed with diabetes.
Some warning signs of diabetes are excessive thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, or sores that are slow to heal. The disease is more common in African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, American Indians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders. Persons who are overweight, physically inactive, aged 45 or older, or have a family history of diabetes are at higher risk for the disease. Women who have had gestational diabetes, or have had a baby weighing nine or more pounds at birth, are also at greater risk.
One of the strongest risk factors for type 2 diabetes is pre-diabetes, a condition that occurs when blood sugar levels are elevated but not high enough to reach the clinical threshold for a diabetes diagnosis. Experts believe as many as one out of three Utahns have pre-diabetes. And unless they start taking care of the problem now, they’ll likely develop full-blown diabetes within 10 years.
However, according to Nathan Peterson, Manager, UDOH Diabetes Prevention and Control Program, there is good news.
“Preventing diabetes doesn’t require drastic lifestyle changes,” says Peterson. “Small steps like getting a little more physical activity every day or losing even a few pounds can have a big impact on lowering your chance of developing diabetes.”
Even if you don’t have symptoms and want to know if you’re at risk, Peterson suggests all adults take the diabetes risk test at www.YourDiabetesInfo.org/alertday2012.
In addition, The National Diabetes Education Program invites people at risk for diabetes to visit their Just One Step website for information about easy ways to dramatically improve their health.
For more information about diabetes prevention and control, visit http://health.utah.gov/diabetes/.