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Our blood sugar level is one of those individual health numbers that it’s important for us to know when it comes to staying on top of our health. It measures the amount of sugar, or glucose, present in our blood at any given time. Why is this such an important fact to know? Because too little sugar in our blood can lead to cognitive difficulties and too much can cause unwanted health complications and be a sign of an underlying condition like diabetes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 34 million Americans have diabetes, and 1 in 5 of those with the condition are not even aware they have it. Additionally, more than 88 million American adults have what is known as prediabetes – a condition where your blood sugar levels are at too high a level but not quite high enough yet to qualify as type 2 diabetes (the most common type of diabetes). That’s more than one in three American adults – a pretty sobering number. Of that group, more than 84 percent are unaware they have prediabetes.
That’s one of the biggest reasons it’s so important to stay on top of numbers like blood sugar. Your health means everything and knowing your health numbers – like blood sugar – is essential to making sure you’re doing what you can to get and stay healthy.
A simple blood sugar test can inform you of your blood sugar levels, let you and your provider know if you have diabetes or are at risk for acquiring the disease and be a jumpstart for taking any necessary steps toward diet and lifestyle changes or treatment.
Diabetes can present with symptoms like frequent urination, abnormal hunger and thirst, blurry vision, unexpected weight loss, fatigue, very dry skin, numb or tingling hands or feet, slow-healing sores and more infections than usual. However, how and when those symptoms appear can depend on the type of diabetes in question and – in some cases – symptoms may not even be noticeable. Type 1 diabetes symptoms can develop fast and intensely while type 2 symptoms typically develop more slowly and may not even be conspicuous. And gestational diabetes can present in the middle of a pregnancy with no apparent symptoms. The tricky nature of diabetes symptoms makes it all the more important to get a blood sugar test to check your blood sugar levels – especially if you are at high risk – and get on a diabetes treatment plan if necessary.
Leaving diabetes untreated and unmanaged could lead to severe health complications down the road, including hearing and vision loss, heart attack, stroke and more. Talk with your primary care provider about getting your blood sugar checked with a simple test. It’s an easy and simple step on your journey to getting and staying healthy.
If you would like to schedule a blood sugar test or talk with a provider about your health, call 1.800.424.DOCS or visit mmclc.org/schedule. For more information on diabetes, visit diabetes.org and cdc.gov/diabetes.
Edna Juarez, MD, is a Board-certified internist and a primary care provider for Memorial Physician Practices who specializes in diabetes. She is fluent in English and Spanish.