More than 30 million Americans—about 10% of the U.S. population—suffer from type 1 or type 2 diabetes, according to the CDC . Even more startling: Roughly one in four doesn’t know she has the disease.
“There are millions of people with type-2 diabetes who are undiagnosed,” says Kristi Silver , MD, acting director of the University of Maryland Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology. How could this be? “More often than not, during the early stages people have no symptoms at all,” she says.
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While many people are asymptomatic, Silver says there are plenty of undiagnosed diabetes patients who do have symptoms, but just aren’t aware that diabetes is the cause. “People who have family members with diabetes are more in tune with the symptoms, and so they tend to get diagnosed sooner,” she says.
That’s a big deal because early diagnoses can help prevent the disease from inflicting permanent damage such as kidney or nerve damage. If you’re overweight or obese, or have a family history of diabetes, it’s worth asking your doctor if a test for diabetes is appropriate.
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That’s doubly true if you’re middle-aged or older. The fall in estrogen levels associated with menopause can make it difficult for a woman’s body to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, which can increase her risk for diabetes, says Leanne Redman , PhD, an associate professor of endocrinology and women’s health at Louisiana State University’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center (PBRC).
Even if you don’t have any of the age, weight, or genetic risk factors for diabetes, there are still warning signs that are worth mentioning to your doctor. Watch for these eight common symptoms of diabetes in women: Getty Images
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