Health & wellness

Diabetes rates rise, but 1 in 4 don’t know they have the disease

Diabetes rates rise,
but 1 in 4 don’t know
they have the disease

More than 29 million American adults have diabetes — up from 26 million in 2010 — yet one in four of them don’t know it, according to a report issued last Tuesday from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rates of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes have been increasing for years. While the obesity epidemic has been blamed on the rising rates of type 2 diabetes, the reasons for the rise in type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune condition that typically strikes in childhood, remain unknown.

CDC researchers also can’t explain why so many diabetics remain undiagnosed. Certainly, many without health insurance don’t see doctors until they develop severe complications such as kidney problems, nerve damage, and vision loss. But even those with access to health care often fail to recognize symptoms that include increased thirst, urination, and fatigue — or fail to attribute such symptoms to diabetes.

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“We need people to be more aware of the symptoms and to get screened if they have certain risk factors or are over the age of 45,” said Ann Albright, director of the CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation.

The American Diabetes Association recommends a blood test — to measure the marker hemoglobin A1C or a fasting test to measure blood glucose — for everyone over age 45 every three years. Screening should be done at a younger age in those with certain risk factors such as high blood pressure or obesity. D.K.

Deborah Kotz can be reached at dkotz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @debkotz2.
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