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Thursday, October 15, 2020

CMO Message - Type 2 Diabetes

In the US, 40% of adults are expected to develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetimes. Among Latino adults, the lifetime risk of diabetes is even higher at 50%. However, roughly one-third of people who have diabetes go undiagnosed because they do not recognize the warning signs of diabetes or have no symptoms at all. Untreated diabetes can lead to complications such as heart attack, stroke, dementia, kidney failure, nerve damage, and blindness. Diabetes also worsens the immune system so you are less able to fight off infections from viruses and bacteria. Early detection is critical for proper treatment and preventing these severe consequences.

Common symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst, frequent urination, increased hunger, and even significant weight loss in later stages. However, there are many other symptoms of diabetes that might surprise you. Diabetes can cause skin darkening and thickening at skin creases in areas such as the back of the neck, armpits, and groin. Fruity-smelling breath may indicate that your body is having trouble metabolizing blood glucose. Diabetes can also lead to erectile dysfunction in men due to the damage on nerves and blood vessels. The nerve damage can also cause abnormal sensations such as itching, pain, numbness, or tingling especially in the hands, feet, arms, and legs. In addition, diabetes can cause fatigue, lightheadedness, and poor concentration from dehydration.

If you have any of these symptoms, please discuss getting tested for diabetes with your healthcare provider. Even if you don’t have any of these symptoms but have personal risk factors such as excess weight or family history of diabetes, it’s still important to get screened. All it takes is a simple blood test that checks your blood glucose level to know if you have diabetes or its precursor prediabetes. This knowledge empowers you to take control over your health and could save your life.


  • Rosemary Ku, MD/MBA/MPA