Approximately 451,888 people in Oklahoma, or 14.3 percent of the adult population, have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. In addition, 1,036,000 people in Oklahoma, 36.9 percent of the adult population, have prediabetes with blood glucose (sugar) levels higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes, the Association says.
Diabetes occurs when problems with insulin disrupt the body’s processing of digested food. Consequently, sugars can build up in the blood, rather than going to the cells to be used as energy. While Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are both very serious conditions, Type 2 is by far the most common and often goes undiagnosed. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to significant health problems such as blindness, the need for dialysis and amputations, notes Daniel Washburn, MD, who specializes in internal medicine and endocrinology.
Symptoms may include increased thirst and urination, blurred vision, fatigue, weight loss and recurrent infections. Some patients may not have symptoms until they experience complications; therefore, screening is important, notes Dr. Washburn.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases says anyone age 45 or older should consider getting tested for diabetes or prediabetes. People younger than 45 should consider testing if they are overweight or obese and have one or more additional risk factors for diabetes. Maintaining a healthy weight and staying physically active are two of the most important things you can do to protect yourself, Dr. Washburn says.
Talk to your doctor about your individual risk for diabetes and whether you should be screened. For help finding a doctor, contact St. Mary’s free physician referral service by calling Direct Doctors Plus® at 580-249-3741.