Diabetes affects one in ten Americans. Understanding if you are at risk and taking action can help prevent serious disease.
Diabetes affects how our bodies break down sugar or glucose into energy. Glucose is the fuel every part of our body uses to create energy. Brain, muscles, and other tissues all need their fuel to function well.
The hormone insulin is responsible for managing your blood sugar level. As the insulin circulates through your body, it enables sugar to move from your bloodstream to your cells.
Doctors distinguish between two types of chronic diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes usually affects children and young adults. Type 2 develops in later life and is related to an individual’s lifestyle.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 95% of the cases of diabetes diagnosed in the United States were type 2. Despite advances in the treatment of diabetes, the disease remains fatal. The CDC’s Diabetes Statistics Report for 2020 concluded that it was the seventh leading cause of death in the country in 2017.
However, most cases of diabetes can be prevented or delayed for years.
Understanding whether someone is at risk of developing diabetes is the first step towards preventing this serious disease. Risk factors differ between type 1 and type 2.
A family history of type 1 diabetes increases your risk of developing the disease, especially if a parent or sibling has already been diagnosed with it. Environmental factors such as hygiene or pollutants also influence your risk.
Medical professionals believe that being exposed to viral illness may be another trigger. Generally, type 1 diabetes develops quickly.
Like type 1 diabetes, a family history of type 2 diabetes also predisposes you towards developing the condition.
Additional factors include excessive weight and inactivity. As your fatty tissue increases, your cells become more resistant to the hormone insulin. On the other hand, physical activity increases your cells’ sensitivity to insulin. The same activity also helps control your weight and uses up glucose as energy.
Even though diabetes affects people from all economic, social, and ethnic backgrounds, Black, Hispanic, American Indian, and Asian American people are at higher risk than others.
In addition, getting older increases your risk of developing diabetes. This may be related to less physical activity and weight gain.
Pre-existing health conditions like high blood pressure, a low level of ‘good’ cholesterol, and triglycerides in your blood have been connected to a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. A blood test is required to confirm if these apply to you.
Developing diabetes during pregnancy, so-called gestational diabetes, can also lead to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes later.
Type 2 diabetes develops slowly, often over several years. In many cases, it is preceded by prediabetes. Prediabetes means that your blood sugar levels are higher than they should be, but not yet high enough to be classed as diabetes. In fact, it is possible to suffer from prediabetes without showing symptoms.
Whilst we cannot prevent type 1 diabetes, developing type 2 diabetes is preventable if it is discovered early.
Type 2 diabetics almost always have prediabetes first. Recognizing the potential illness at this stage allows you to prevent prediabetes from developing into diabetes. At this time, you may not show any symptoms at all.
Estimates show that as many as one in three people currently have prediabetes without knowing it. The only way of confirming prediabetes is a blood test, but there are simpler ways of determining whether you are at risk. This is especially important if one or more risk factors apply to you.
Early recognition means you have time to make changes: a healthier diet, combined with increased physical activity, and early treatment can delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. There is also a chance that your blood sugar levels return to a normal range over time.
Making small, sustainable changes is the key to successful diabetes prevention. For example, losing 7% of your body weight or being moderately active for 30 minutes every day can have an impact.
These lifestyle choices not only help treat and control diabetes. If you are at high risk for the disease, they are effective in preventing it or delaying its onset.
Diabetes is expensive: the cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States exceeds $300 billion annually.
As an employer, you could save thousands of dollars in annual healthcare costs by screening your team for diabetes and assessing their risk of prediabetes. This is the reason behind recently released by TrueCare™ diabetes screening tool.
The tool allows you to assess your team’s risk potential quickly and efficiently via a complementary analysis. Based on the findings, you receive a risk report including realistic recommendations. If necessary, your team members can then schedule a consult with a fully credentialed clinical team member.
The benefits reach far beyond cost savings. By offering an opportunity for early testing you are starting to create a company culture focused on healthy lifestyle choices. The results will not only apply to diabetes prevention but have a positive impact on the overall health of your team.
TrueCare™ is a nationwide Health & Wellness platform for families and businesses providing end-to-end solutions for COVID-19 testing, screening, vaccination, home care, and corporate well-being services.