Can Diabetes Screenings Prevent Diabetes?

Diabetes greatly impacts a person’s daily life, from what they eat, where they can go, and how they plan each day. Type 2 diabetes is more common in those over the age of 40, though it can develop at any age. Leading a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a healthy weight can prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. Knowing the signs and symptoms of diabetes, as well as completing regular diabetes screenings, also lowers risk. November is National Diabetes Month and communities are striving to raise awareness and educate on diabetes conditions, prevention, and screenings.

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The group that most needs diabetes screenings

Diabetes screening recommendations can vary slightly. However, the broadest guidelines recommend that all adults over the age of 45 should participate in screenings for type 2 diabetes. Diabetes screening becomes especially important if a person is overweight. Those who have a family history of the disease, have heart disease, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol should all also complete regular diabetes screenings, possibly before the age of 45. These screenings should be completed at least every three years.

Checking your glucose

A diabetes screening will typically involve a glucose test. One test involves checking fasting blood glucose levels, while another test involves checking glucose tolerance after drinking a sugary drink. If test results show any signs of concern, patients will be referred to a specialist about next steps for either treating diabetes or preventing the development of diabetes.

Why is catching diabetes early important?

About a third of people who have type 2 diabetes are unaware that they have the disease. However, knowing the warning signs of diabetes can increase a person’s chances of catching the disease early. The earlier diabetes is treated, the lower the risk of developing additional health complications like stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, or numbness in the feet. A condition called prediabetes, in which the body is starting to become resistant to insulin can actually be managed before developing into diabetes. Some of the warning signs of diabetes include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Frequent infections, including gum, skin, or yeast infections

When should I call the doctor?

A highly important warning sign of diabetes is having breath that smells like nail polish remover. This can indicate high ketones, which are an indicator of not getting enough insulin and can lead to serious health complications. Always call the doctor if any symptoms develop that are abnormal, such as frequent urination, having a bad belly ache, or breathing faster or heavier than normal.

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