Holiday risks for diabetics who don’t know it
Nearly 79 million Americans are currently at risk of developing diabetes and most of them are unaware of the threat, according to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC says one in three U.S. adults had a condition known as prediabetes in 2010 and only 11 percent of those were aware of their risk. People with prediabetes have blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to be categorized as diabetes.
And with holiday eating frenzy in full swing, diabetes experts say many people are increasing their risk for strokes and heart attacks as they consume fat and sugar-laden food and drinks.
Dr. Vinita Bhagia, an endocrinologist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, says if prediabetics eat typical holiday fare, they might be unaware of they are putting themselves at risk.
“Holiday favorites like pies, cookies and eggnog can raise blood sugar levels to extreme highs,” says Dr. Bhagia. “Additionally, foods rich in salt and high in fat pose additional risks for prediabetics.”
Dr. Bhagia says the seasonal treats may trigger life-threatening events.
“Diabetes increases the risk of heart attacks and stroke, just like smoking, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol,” she says. “When prediabetics eat dishes laden with salt, fat and sugar, it definitely raises their risk of heart attacks.”
But how can people know if they are prediabetic? Dr. Bhagia says blood tests need to be taken to get a proper diagnosis. She also says there are physical signs to watch for.
“There may be no symptoms initially, but when sugars get uncontrollably high, the most common symptoms are excessive thirst, excessive urination, excessive hunger or blurry vision,” she explains. “It’s critical for people to see their doctor if they experience any of these symptoms, especially after eating.
Getting a handle on prediabetic conditions that can lead to Type 2 diabetes, Dr. Bhagia says.
“Long term uncontrolled diabetes can lead to several complications especially affecting the kidneys, eyes, nerves and heart. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness and foot amputations in addition to heart disease and stroke.”
In addition to getting a diagnosing blood test for diabetes, Dr. Bhagia says that everyone, including those at risk for diabetes, should avoid those foods and drinks that put our health at risk.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.