This is an important question because more than 5 million Americans have diabetes and don’t know it, according to the American Diabetes Association.
This applies primarily to type 2 diabetes, also known as adult onset diabetes or non-insulin dependent diabetes. It’s typically diagnosed in people who are overweight and older than 40. Fewer than 10 percent of all diabetics have type 1 diabetes, which has also been called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes. People with type 1 must take the hormone insulin to control their blood sugar levels. They’re usually diagnosed before age 30.
People with type 2 diabetes don’t always have noticeable symptoms, at least not initially. If they do develop symptoms, they may include:
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Periods of extreme hunger
- Vision problems
- Numbness or tingling
- Dry skin
- Sores that heal very slowly
- Increased number of infections, such as gum, skin or urinary infections.
Early diagnosis, treatment and ongoing management are the keys to preventing the very serious potential complications of diabetes. When diabetes goes uncontrolled over a period of years, it may lead to heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, kidney disease, blindness, loss of limbs, damage to the nervous system and dental problems. That’s why diabetes is a leading cause of death in this country.