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Should You Be Tested for Diabetes?

Nearly 6 million Americans have type 2 diabetes and don't know it:  they either have no signs or symptoms or such mild symptoms that they go unnoticed. Are you one of them? 

Here is what to look for:

  • increased thirst
  • increased hunger
  • increased or unexplained fatigue
  • increased urination, especially at night
  • unexplained weight loss
  • blurred vision
  • sores or infections that do not heal well or that recur frequently (including yeast infections for women)

Unfortunately, many people don't find out that they have diabetes until they have complications, such as blurry vision or heart trouble. As with most medical problems, it is better to identify this condition earlier rather than later because treatment can prevent unwanted consequences. 

Anyone 45 years old or older should consider getting screened for diabetes, especially if you are overweight or have a family history. If you are younger than 45, overweight, and have one or more of the other risk factors, you should consider testing. Anyone with symptoms should also be tested.  Ask your doctor for a fasting blood glucose test or an oral glucose tolerance test.

Even if your blood glucose level is normal and you have no risk factors, if you are over 45, you should be retested in 3 years. If your blood glucose is higher than normal but lower than the diabetes range (now caled "pre-diabetes"), you should be retested in 1 to 2 years. As you age, your chances of developing type 2 diabetes also rise. You are also more likely to get type 2 diabetes if you have one or more of the risk factors.

Risk Factors for Diabetes:

  • being overweight
  • family history of diabetes
  • Racial background is African American, American Indian, Asian American, Pacific Islander or Hispanic American.
  • Women who had gestational diabetes (diabetes of pregnancy) or who gave birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds.
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Sedentary (inactive) lifestyle.
  • Recurrent yeast infections in women

Created: 11/3/2003  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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