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Format: 04/18/2014
Format: 04/18/2014

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KDKA-TV: Millions Of Americans With Diabetes Go Undiagnosed

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) ?  Diabetes is quite common, and yet many people may not know they have it. (Link To Story)

"I just don't have any symptoms, so I assume I don't. I guess I should get checked out," says a man downtown.

"Never been tested for it, I wouldn't know for sure," admits one woman.

Diabetes is a condition where your body doesn't process sugars properly.

But fear of treatment, or fear of complications keeps a lot of people from getting diagnosed.

Obesity and genetics play a role -- so it's not necessarily something to feel guilty about.

From government health surveys including blood tests which can pick up the condition, it seems 23 million Americans have diabetes, and one in four doesn't even know it.

"Unconsciously, they feel they can do what they've always done, and hope that things work out," says Dr. Tony Farah at Allegheny General Hospital.

But ignorance is not bliss in this case.

If the disease goes undiagnosed and untreated, you could risk blindness, kidney failure and heart attack.

Symptoms like fatigue, thirst, and frequent urination may not show up until you've had the disease for many years and by then the damage has started.

"It's human nature, it's very hard to convince someone who feels fine that they need to take a pill all of a sudden just because a blood test shows something," continues Dr. Farah.

After fasting, the blood sugar, also called blood glucose, should not be higher than 100. Another test called glycosolated hemoglobin can be done to check the long-term blood sugar, and should not be much over 6.

If your blood sugar is high, cut down on carbohydrates and add exercise to help your body process sugar more efficiently. If you take these steps and your blood sugar stays high, there is medication.

You might be started on a pill if your fasting blood sugar is over 125. Insulin shots generally won't be started until your blood sugar is still high even with two types of pills for diabetes, along with a high long term blood sugar test.

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