A disease, that often remains hidden, is affecting families all across San Antonio. According to a City of San Antonio report, one in eight adults in Bexar County has been told by a doctor that they have prediabetes or are borderline diabetic. The good news is with early detection and lifestyle changes, prediabetes can often be reversed and diabetes can be avoided or delayed.
Am I at risk for prediabetes?
It’s important to talk to your doctor about getting your blood sugar, also known as glucose, checked if you have one or more of the following risk factors:
- Being overweight
- Being 45 years or older
- Having a parent, brother or sister with type 2 diabetes
- Being physically active less than 3 times a week
- Ever having diabetes during pregnancy
- Giving birth to a baby that weighed more than 9 pounds
- Having polycystic ovary syndrome
- Race – African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans are at higher risk
People with prediabetes have elevated blood sugar that often goes untreated. This can lead to a heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular issues.
“Right now there are about 90 million people in the U.S. that are prediabetic and more than two-thirds of those patients don’t even realize they have this condition,” said Dr. Alberto Chavez-Velazquez, University Health System’s endocrinologist and diabetes specialist at the Texas Diabetes Institute. “In many cases, damage to the kidneys, pancreas, and heart, among other organs, has already begun. Just because they can’t feel it – doesn’t mean it’s not happening.”
Potential prediabetes symptoms you may notice that should be discussed with your doctor include:
- Weight gain around the stomach
- Sleepiness after a meal
- Lack of energy or constantly feeling tired
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination, especially at night
Five ways to help prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Follow these steps to live a healthier lifestyle and start good habits:
- Check glucose levels frequently – Start at Diabetes Alert Day on March 26
- Eat healthy, moderate portions
- Exercise at least 150 minutes per week (start by walking just 10 minutes a day and aim to increase it to 30 minutes a day)
- Establish good sleeping habits
- Lose weight the healthy way (just 5-7 percent of your body weight may reduce your risk by 50%)
Support from family members and community – don’t fight it alone
Walk, exercise, and eat healthy with your family. It’s a good way to spend time together. If one member of the family is diabetic, it’s possible that other members are at risk. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a resource available online to help you start taking steps to avoid diabetes.
To learn how to cook healthy, sign up for cooking classes at the Texas Diabetes Institute. Registered dieticians talk about how to make nutritional meals that taste good. It’s not hard to do. It’s a fun way to get healthy and meet other people in the community who have similar interests and health concerns.
For a small $5 fee you get a cooking lesson, recipes you can take home and food samples. These healthy cooking classes are a great community resource. Speak to experts and ask questions about the best food choices and talk about your calorie options. Also, free exercise classes are provided at the Texas Diabetes Institute’s fitness center.
Free blood sugar checks!
Get your blood sugar level checked on Diabetes Alert Day, March 26. University Health System is hosting the educational event from 9 a.m. to noon at five locations: Hilliard Center, Southeast Clinic, Southwest Clinic, Robert B. Green Campus and North Clinic. Prevention can be a lifesaver. No appointment needed.