“Are you physically active?”
These are two of the seven questions on the online Diabetes Online Risk Test, created by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and advertised on Diabetes Alert Day, which takes place on Tuesday, March 27.
If you take just a minute or two, you can learn on a scale of 1 to 10 what your risk is of having diabetes.
I was happy to find out I am a 2, but the answer also explained that my risk for diabetes changes over time and increases with age.
That means that while it’s great to take the test now, you also want to continue to keep an eye out in the future to make sure you don’t develop diabetes. Then if you do develop diabetes, that means you can begin to get treatment as soon as possible.
The Diabetes Clinic at Monongalia County Health Department can help, too. Kendra L. Barker, an advanced practice registered nurse and a nationally certified diabetes instructor, meets with patients by appointment from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Fridays. She can provide diabetes education as well as help patients manage their symptoms.
So what is diabetes? It’s a problem with your body that causes blood glucose—or sugar—levels to rise higher than normal, according to the ADA. When this happens, it’s also called hyperglycemia. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes.
If you have type 2 diabetes, your body does not use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance. At first, your pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. But, over time it isn't able to keep up and can't make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose at normal levels.
About 30 million Americans have diabetes, and about one in four don’t know it. That’s a problem because the earlier you get help, the easier it will be to manage symptoms and avoid complications. People with diabetes are twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke than people who don’t have diabetes—and at a younger age. Diabetes also is the leading cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations and adult-onset blindness. And if you smoke, you are 30-40 percent likelier to develop diabetes than non-smokers.
Also, one in three Americans has prediabetes. Prediabetes means a person's blood glucose level is higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People with prediabetes are on the road to develop type 2 diabetes and are also at increased risk for serious health problems such as stroke and heart disease.
If you do have prediabetes, there is still a chance that you can avoid getting type 2 diabetes with lifestyle changes that include increased physical activity, changes in your diet and weight loss.
Prediabetes often can be reversed through lifestyle changes such as increased physical activity and weight loss. The earlier people are diagnosed with prediabetes, the more likely it is that it can be reversed and type 2 diabetes avoided.
So take a couple of minutes and take the test. And if the results concern you, get tested. You can make an appointment by calling 304-598-5119.