African-Americans at a Greater Risk for Diabetes
Initially it can be pretty scary being told you have diabetes--but don't panic, with good management of the condition many people with diabetes live long, healthy lives.
According to the American Diabetes Association, in comparison to the general population, African-Americans are disproportionately affected by diabetes:
- 14.7% of all African-Americans aged 20 years or older have diabetes.
- African-Americans are 1.6 times more likely to have diabetes as non Hispanic whites.
- Twenty-five percent of African-Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 have diabetes.
- One in four African-American women over 55 years of age has diabetes.
Also, if you are an African-American who has already had a heart attack, stroke, or you have high blood pressure, your risk of getting diabetes is even greater.
So, how can you avoid getting the condition? Well, let’s take a look at a few of the facts first…
What is diabetes?
(Note: when we talk about diabetes, we are referring to type II diabetes, rather than type I diabetes).
If you have type II diabetes, either your body produces very little insulin, or the insulin it does produce doesn't work effectively. Insulin is the hormone, produced by the pancreas, which helps glucose (sugar) enter the cells of your body after you eat a meal.
So, when you eat food, the body breaks down the sugars and starches into glucose. Insulin’s job is to take the sugar from the blood into the cells. But, when glucose builds up in the blood your cells may become starved of energy, and over time too much glucose in your blood can lead to problems.
Here are some of the symptoms of diabetes you should look out for:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Weight loss
- Excessive tiredness
- Blurred vision
- Skin and fungal infections
- Slow healing of wounds
If you don’t look after your health when you have diabetes, or indeed you have diabetes and you don’t know it, it could lead to serious health issues. Some of these include, cardiovascular problems, stroke, kidney and eye disease, damage to the nervous system, musculoskeletal and skin conditions.
So, I'm sure you'll agree it's extremely important that you learn to manage your diabetes well from the beginning.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be looking at how to manage diabetes with diet, exercise, and medication, so do stay tuned for that! Don’t forget to get in contact if you’ve a burning question you want to know the answer to on this subject, I’d love to hear from you.