November is American Diabetes Month. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is the fifth deadliest disease in the United States. A third of the 17 million Americans with diabetes are unaware that they have the disease. Approximately 90-95 percent of people living with diabetes have type 2, or adult onset diabetes, a devastating illness with potentially life-threatening complications.
The long-term effects of diabetes can include damage to the eyes, nerves, kidneys and cardiovascular system, says Fouad R. Kandeel, M.D., Ph.D., director of the City of Hope Leslie & Susan Gonda (Goldschmied) Diabetes & Genetic Research Center in Los Angeles. Knowing risk factors and detecting type 2 diabetes early can increase the chances of successfully preventing or managing the disease.
Those at highest risk for diabetes include the following:
People older than age 45
Those with a family history of diabetes
People who are overweight or do not exercise regularly
Women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy
People of African-American, Latino, Native American or Asian decent
Children who are overweight and in middle to late puberty.
Complications of diabetes can include heart disease, stroke, vision loss or blindness, kidney disease, skin disorders, foot problems and amputation. Fortunately, there are several ways to prevent and manage diabetes. Dr. Kandeel suggests the following:
Eat a well-balanced diet
Exercise regularly and shed the extra pounds
Manage physical and mental stress factors
Practice good personal hygiene, including oral health, skin care, foot care and eye care.
Common signs of diabetes include frequent urination and infections, unusual thirst or weight loss, excessive hunger, fatigue, blurred vision, slow-healing cuts and bruises and tingling or numbness in the hands and feet, says Dr. Kandeel. People exhibiting these symptoms or who think they are at risk of developing diabetes should consult their physician.
For more information about diabetes research and treatment at the City of Hope Leslie & Susan Gonda (Goldschmied) Diabetes & Genetic Research Center, call 1-800-826-HOPE, or visit www.cityofhope.org/diabetes.