More than 26 million people in U.S. have Type Two Diabetes, experts say just as many could have the disease and not know it. Our Katie Gibas has more.
"If you have diabetes in your family, you are already at risk. If you are a minority, you're at risk. If you're over the age of 40, you're at risk. If you're overweight, you're at risk. If you're not physically active, you're at risk. So that's a whole lot of people," said Susan Rioux, RN, St. Joseph's Hospital Certified Diabetes Educator.
That's why many hospitals are starting to screen all patients for diabetes. In addition to awareness days, most facilities are starting to assign diabetes educators to work with patients one on one.
"To update everybody on the newest medications, and the newest treatments and newest information and research coming out about diabetes. That changes every day," Rioux added.
Shirley Hudson was diagnosed two years ago. And she was determined not to let Diabetes get the best of her and because of her strict diet and exercise regimen, she's lost 40 pounds and got her blood sugars under control.
"Just reading labels and finding out how many carbohydrates are in foods. It was just so eye-opening. It used to take me a couple hours to do groceries. Now I know what I can eat: fruits, vegetables, protein. If you know you're going to go out to dinner and you're going to have a little dessert, you are really careful during the day," said Shirley Hudson, a Registered Nurse at St. Joseph's Hospital.
Experts say once you're diagnosed with diabetes, it's especially important to watch your diet and exercise to avoid future complications like kidney disease, liver disease, or mental impairment.
"If your blood sugar is out of control for a long amount of time, the statistics show that you're going to get a complication from the diabetes, just from all the wearing and tearing on your blood vessels from the high blood sugar. So if you don't take care of your diabetes, you're going to end up with some big problems down the line," said Rioux.
Experts say if you have two or more of the risk factors for Type Two diabetes, you should have a blood test for the disease.