November is Diabetes Awareness Month. It’s something 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with every year.

“Diabetes continues to be on the rise in our community, and all of the statistics nationwide and worldwide,” Jan Miller, Diabetes Dietitian Specialist at Lawton Community Health Center, said. “So, we are very understandably concerned about the prevalence of diabetes and the complications that occur from it.”

Another statistic from the American Diabetes Association shows in 2015, 88 million Americans 18 and older were at risk of developing diabetes because they had prediabetes. Miller said there is damage happening to the body during the prediabetes and untreated time.

“All parts of our body are damaged from diabetes,” she said. “Now, some person maybe more so one organ than another, but the damage is still occurring.”

She said it’s the leading cause of new blindness and chronic kidney disease leading to dialysis. It can also cause heart issues. Miller said it’s important for people to be aware if they have risks and what they can do to reduce their risk of developing it.

“The problem with diabetes is it’s a progressive disease,” Miller said. “So, initially, you may be having some elevated blood sugars and not knowing that’s the problem. People don’t even notice that they’re having issues, and then it becomes noticeable with symptoms of frequent urination, frequent thirst.”

She said people may also notice weight loss or gain along with irritability.

“If you’re having symptoms, you need to seek help,” she said. “Because let it go 3 or 4 months you might end up being in the hospital, in the ICU, which is totally unnecessary if you stepped up and saw your doctor prior.”

This holiday season, do yourself and your family a favor by taking a quiz to see if you have prediabetes, so you can hopefully be as healthy as you can be for many holiday seasons to come.