Some Americans should start screening for diabetes in their 30s.
The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force has lowered the recommended age to start diabetes screening from 40 to 35 for Americans who are overweight or obese. Diabetes screening is simple and easily accessible at all Lake Regional primary care clinics, and patients usually receive results during their visit.
“The screening involves testing a patient’s blood sugar through one or more tests, which indicate if blood sugar levels are normal or indicate prediabetes or diabetes,” said Eugenia Banina, M.D., an internist at Lake Regional Clinic – Eldon. “There are numerous health benefits to early treatment of diabetes or taking preventative measures if your results show you have prediabetes.”
More than one in 10 Americans have diabetes, and approximately one in three have prediabetes. However, many people don’t know they are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes because there aren’t usually noticeable symptoms beforehand.
The biggest risk factors for developing diabetes or prediabetes are genetics, high blood pressure, low or no physical activity, and being overweight or obese. In a 2016 Missouri county-level study, more than 50% of respondents from Camden, Laclede, Miller and Morgan counties identified as overweight or obese, and more than a quarter stated they do not engage in any physical activity or exercise.
“Diabetes education and lifestyle changes are the most effective tools for addressing or preventing this disease,” Dr. Banina said.
What is diabetes?
Perhaps the first thing to know about diabetes is that it isn't just one disease.
“Diabetes is actually a group of diseases characterized by high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood,” Dr. Banina said. “It may be that the pancreas doesn't make enough insulin — a hormone that controls sugar level in our bloodstream and helps to properly store and utilize it. Another possibility is that the body isn't using insulin effectively.”
Whatever the case, the result is too much sugar in the blood. And excessive amounts of blood sugar can harm organs and lead to serious problems.
There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes usually begins in childhood or young adulthood. Only about five percent of adults diagnosed with diabetes have type 1.
Type 2 diabetes
About 90 to 95 percent of adults diagnosed with diabetes have type 2. It is diagnosed most often in adults but is increasingly being found in children.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas doesn't make enough insulin or doesn't use it properly. Genetics, diet and inactivity are all contributing factors. Medicines and sometimes insulin are needed to treat it.
“Even if you are at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes, you can prevent or delay the onset of this disease by making some lifestyle changes,” Dr. Banina said. “Eating a well-balanced diet and avoiding processed and sugary foods is an important step in managing your risk. You should also aim for at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week.
“Once you receive your results from your blood sugar test, talk to your doctor about making a plan of action that best fits your lifestyle and overall needs,” Dr. Banina continued. “Regardless of the outcome, eating well is the key to managing blood sugar.”
To make an appointment with Dr. Banina, call Lake Regional Clinic – Eldon at 573.392.5654 or request an appointment online at lakeregional.com/appointment. Use Lake Regional’s convenient online Provider Directory at lakeregional.com/physicians to view provider biographies by name, city or specialty.