Happy Diabetes Awareness Month! Now go get tested.

Diabetes is a huge health problem for so many: Nearly 86 million Americans have prediabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). And around 8 million people have diabetes but don’t know it. In Idaho, nearly 8 percent of people have been diagnosed with the disease and about 6 percent have prediabetes. That’s more than 200,000 Idahoans.

November is Diabetes Awareness Month, so it’s a good time to learn what you can do to prevent the disease or to get help managing it. Although some people do not experience any symptoms of diabetes, the most common include having to urinate often, feeling very hungry and thirsty, extreme fatigue, blurry vision, and cuts and bruises that don’t heal normally.

The ADA recommends that all adults over the age of 45 be screened for diabetes every three years. Catching it early can prevent future complications such as heart disease, stroke and blindness. Many insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, will pay for the screening with the recommendation from a healthcare provider.

When you get tested, you may find out that you have a condition called prediabetes, which is when blood glucose levels are high enough to be concerning but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2. For some people, early diagnosis and treatment can return blood glucose levels to the normal range. Exercising moderately for 30 minutes a day for five days each week and losing weight will dramatically reduce a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Even if you can’t get to your ideal body weight, losing just 10 to 15 pounds can make a huge difference. If you’re curious about your risk, you can take a short quiz at http://www.diabetes.idaho.gov.

Getting tested is important because if the disease isn’t detected early enough, it can cause or contribute to kidney disease, high blood pressure (which raises your risk for heart attack and stroke), foot complications from nerve damage, glaucoma, cataracts and other eye problems.

If you are diagnosed with prediabetes or diabetes, help is available. People who have been diagnosed with prediabetes are eligible to participate in an Idaho Diabetes Prevention Program offered through the Treasure Valley YMCA. The program will help you take charge of your health to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. There also are accredited and recognized Diabetes Self-Management Education programs throughout the state that are reimbursable by Medicaid, Medicare and most insurance plans. In those programs, an educator works with adults with type 2 diabetes to help them find healthy solutions that fit into their lifestyles. Participants need to get a referral from their healthcare providers. You can find a list of these programs at http://www.diabetes.idaho.gov.

Resources:

• Department of Health and Welfare: http://www.diabetes.idaho.gov

• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/home/index.html

• American Diabetes Association: http://www.diabetes.org/?referrer=https://www.google.com/

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