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6 Potential Warning Signs of Diabetes

February 23, 2022

Diabetes, a chronic disease affecting the way the body regulates blood sugar, or glucose, affects people of all races and ethnicities. But it is more prevalent in certain racial and ethnic groups.

According to the 2020 Connecticut Diabetes Statistics Report, approximately 275,500 adults across the state have diagnosed diabetes. The rate is highest among non-Hispanic Black or African Americans at 15.5 percent. That is why Dr. Fadi Al-Khayer, an endocrinologist with Hartford HealthCare’s Medical Group, is so eager to help patients keep their sugar levels in check.

Identifying the condition early on will avoid major long-term health complications. Dr. Al-Khayer suggested scheduling an appointment with an endocrinologist if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Hunger.
  • Fatigue.
  • Frequent urination.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Itchy skin.
  • Blurred vision.

Research suggests modifiable risk factors, such as abdominal fat, high blood pressure and obesity, are more common in African Americans.

“African Americans’ access to facilities and amenities that can help prevent diabetes by modifying their risk factors is limited compared to white Americans,” Dr. Al-Khayer said.

Although socioeconomic and systemic barriers make it more challenging for African Americans to receive proper education on the disease, healthy lifestyle changes can reduce modifiable risk factors.

“Walk 1 mile a day every day, and you may reduce the risk of diabetes around 60 percent,” Dr. Al-Khayer suggested, referring to The Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study.

The study evaluated 522 middle-aged overweight patients with impaired glucose tolerance and found that weight loss, increased fiber intake and regular physical activity reduced the risk of developing diabetes by 58 percent after 3.2 years. Other lifestyle modification studies in China and India have demonstrated similar findings in diabetes prevention.

“When left untreated, diabetes can lead to serious complications, including heart attacks, strokes, amputations, kidney damage leading to dialysis, and blindness,” Dr. Al-Khayer said. “The good news is we have many tools that can significantly reduce the rate of these complications. Lifestyle modifications along with aggressive treatment of high blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar may well reduce or even prevent many of these complications.”


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