Nearly 26 million Americans, or 8.3 percent of the population, live with diabetes, including myself.
The elderly and Latino population are the fastest growing segments in Texas. Classic symptoms include blurred vision, thirstiness and frequent urination. Left untreated, it can lead to more serious complications, like stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, blindness or amputation.
Dr. Griffin Rodgers directs the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
"Almost 7 million have diabetes and don't know that they have the disease. But perhaps more troubling is 79 million adults have pre-diabetes. And pre-diabetes is a condition that increases your risk of developing Type-2 diabetes, but independently it increases your risk of having heart disease and stroke."
Coryell County in Central Texas, has the highest number of diabetics in the state, almost 11 percent. Dr. Rodgers says a number of risk factors have been linked to diabetes: family history, being over weight or obese, ethnicity; African- American, American Indian or Asian, increases the chances of developing diabetes.
"Baby boomers aging, that's another thing that's driving these numbers. Women who develop diabetes during pregnancy, so-called gestational diabetes increases. And the infant born from that pregnancy is at a high risk to become overweight and developing diabetes sometimes later in life."
The obstacles facing diabetics can make managing the disease daunting for some. Jennifer Williams with the American Diabetes Association in Houston, says there is a simplicity to living with it:
"My Mom passed away from complications, have an older sister has Type-1 diabetes, my brother, my Dad, myself. I didn't really know what it was until I was diagnosed, and one of the keys is gonna be diet and exercise. And I always tell people when I'm out in the community is when it comes to diabetes, you have to change your way of thinking about food and physical activity, because once you change your way of thinking about it, then it helps you to recognize what you should do."
The National Diabetes Education Program's "Make a Plan" tool can help you think about what is important to your health, and what you are willing and able to do, so you can break down your goals into small, achievable steps. Whether you're looking to eat healthier, be more active, manage your weight, cope better with stress or stop smoking — it's all available for you at www.yourdiabetesinfo.org, and at www.diabetes.org.