1-in-5 People with Diabetes Don’t Know They Have It

From ALLtech medical provider Regence BlueShield

November is National Diabetes Month, a time to raise awareness of a chronic condition that’s far more common than many people realize.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 34 million people in the U.S. — 10 percent of the population — have diabetes. Another 88 million people — more than a third of adults in the U.S. — have prediabetes, where their blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed.

People with diabetes are unable to manage how much glucose exists in their bloodstream. Glucose, a type of sugar, is the main source of energy for the cells in our bodies. A hormone called insulin controls glucose levels, and people who have diabetes often require insulin injections to help maintain healthy glucose levels.

The different types of diabetes

There are three types of diabetes — type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is, by far, the most common, representing about 90 percent of people with diabetes. It’s usually diagnosed in adults, and type 2 diabetes is both preventable and sometimes reversible through weight loss, exercise and a healthy diet.

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition where a person’s pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin, usually diagnosed in children. The third type is gestational diabetes, which develops for some pregnant women who have never had diabetes.

Over the last 20 years, the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled. It’s the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S., and people with diabetes are twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke, and more likely to have serious complications from COVID-19.

How to prevent developing diabetes

Type 2 diabetes sneaks up on us. It develops over many years, and the symptoms are often not noticeable. Eighty-four percent of people who have prediabetes don’t know they have it, and one in five people with diabetes don’t know they have it.

The known risk factors for prediabetes and developing type 2 diabetes include:

  • Being overweight
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Age (45 or older)
  • Genetics — e.g. having a close relative with type 2 diabetes

If you have risk factors, talk to your doctor about getting your blood sugar tested. ALLtech members also have access to health plan resources for managing and preventing diabetes — more information is available on the Regence site.

Regence’s Dr. Drew Oliveira shares helpful diabetes information

Watch the short video above for helpful tips, including the importance of staying current with your screenings, ways to reverse prediabetes and prevent type 2 diabetes, and what you can do if you are diagnosed.