Could you have diabetes and not know it? One in four Americans is unaware that they are living with diabetes. Each year in March, Diabetes Alert Day brings awareness to the seriousness of diabetes and the importance of understanding your risk. The sooner you know you’re at risk, the sooner you can take steps to prevent or manage diabetes. This holds especially true in San Antonio where Hispanics, a high-risk ethnicity group for diabetes, make up more than 64% of the population.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that occurs when blood sugar, the body’s main source of energy that comes from food, is too high. A hormone made by the pancreas called insulin helps the sugar from food enter cells to be used for energy. When the body doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t use insulin well, sugar stays in the blood and doesn’t reach cells, causing diabetes.
In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas produces little to no insulin. Type 1 generally occurs at a younger age, but it can occur at any age. About 5% of individuals with diabetes have type 1. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas is not producing adequate insulin and insulin is not working properly. About 95% of individuals with diabetes have type 2. Learn more about diabetes here.
Know your risk
Family history and age are known risk factors for developing type 1 diabetes, with children, teens and young adults being the most likely to develop it. Type 2 diabetes most commonly occurs in adults, 40 years of age and older and increases in incidence with advancing age. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include being overweight, family history, physically inactive and African American, Hispanic/Latino American, American Indian or Alaska Native ethnicity.
“Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable with proven lifestyle changes such as weight loss if you’re overweight, eating healthier and getting regular physical activity,” said Ralph DeFronzo, MD, endocrinologist at UT Health Physicians. “However, many type 2 diabetic patients find it difficult to lose weight. Fortunately, we now have very good medicines to control the blood sugar level.”
The Diabetes Risk Test is a quick and simple way to find out if you or someone you love is at risk for type 2 diabetes. Those who are at risk or have been diagnosed are encouraged to make an appointment with UT Health Physicians, where primary care doctors work directly with our diabetes practice’s board-certified endocrinologists, certified diabetes educators, registered dietitians, nurses and nurse practitioners.
“Diabetes is the leading cause of heart disease, kidney disease, blindness and amputation, so knowing your risk factors and taking steps to live a healthy life to prevent diabetes is very important,” Dr. DeFronzo said. “If you are at risk, UT Health provides expert care to help you live a healthy life, including individualized plans that lay out lifestyle changes and medication.”
To take the Diabetes Risk Test, click here. To make an appointment with the diabetes practice at UT Health Physicians, call 210-450-9050 or visit: https://www.uthscsa.edu/patient-care/physicians/make-appointment.