On average, diabetes remains undiagnosed for seven years. Estimates indicate that half of those affected are unaware that they suffer from this illness because neither prediabetes nor early-stage diabetes trigger significant symptoms. However, even at this early stage, they are already causing lasting damage. For those at risk it is therefore vital that they quantify their risk because – and this is the good news – even small but permanent adjustments to unhealthy habits can be extremely effective in the battle against diabetes. Those affected do not have to become elite athletes. Regular light physical exercise, combined with a balanced diet, produces excellent results. And of course everyone needs a little treat from time to time. At best, this approach can prevent diabetes or delay its onset for years. In other words, a change of lifestyle can help at-risk individuals improve their quality of life and give them more years of healthy carefree life than they would otherwise have enjoyed.
The following factors heighten the risk of developing type 2 diabetes:
- Excess weight
- Not enough physical activity
- Family history
- Previous gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
Prediabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels are too high but full-blown diabetes has not yet developed. There are generally no specific symptoms. Every year five to ten percent of individuals with prediabetes develop diabetes. Prediabetes can cause damage to the sufferer's kidneys, nerves and eyes.
Symptoms of diabetes
- Frequent urination
- Unusual thirst
- Extreme tiredness
- Blurred vision
- Cuts or wounds are slow to heal
- Tingling sensation or numbness in the hands or feet
- Recurrent inflammation of the skin, gums or bladder
Diabetes is often only diagnosed after a heart attack or stroke.