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Risk Factors for Diabetes

There are several factors that increase the odds of having diabetes. Your family, environment, and preexisting medical conditions can increase percentages of developing diabetes. There are some risks that can be controlled and some that cannot.

Type 1 diabetes is more likely if you are a child or teenage, you have a parent or sibling with the condition, or you carry certain genes that are linked to the disease. Whereas, Type 2 diabetes risk increases if you are overweight, 45 years or older, are not physically active, have had gestational diabetes, have prediabetes, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or high triglycerides. In fact, those who have African American, Hispanic, Alaska Native, Pacific Islander, American Indian or Asian American ancestry are at a greater risk.

Your risk for gestational diabetes increases if you are overweight, over the age of 25, had gestational diabetes during a past pregnancy, have given birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds, have a family history of type 2 diabetes or have polycystic ovary syndrome.

High blood sugar damages organs and tissues throughout your body. The higher your blood sugar is and the longer you live with it, the greater your risk for complications. Complications associated with diabetes include heart disease, neuropathy, nephropathy, retinopathy and vision loss, hearing loss, foot damage, skin conditions, depression and dementia.

Doctors treat diabetes with a few different medications. Some of these drugs are taken by mouth while others are available as injections. Insulin is the main treatment for type 1 diabetes as it replaces the hormone your body is not able to produce. For those with Type 2 diabetes, diet and exercise can help. However, if lifestyle changes are not enough to lower your blood sugar, you will need to take medication. For Gestational diabetes you will need to monitor your blood sugar level several times a day during pregnancy. If it is too high, dietary changes and exercise may not be enough to bring it down.

The bottom line is the drug or combination of drugs that your doctor prescribes will depend on the type of diabetes you have and its cause.

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