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Are You At Risk For Developing Adult-Onset Diabetes?

Updated on August 8, 2020
Fiona Jean Mckay profile image

It was only when my uncle died due to complications from diabetes that I realized how serious the disease is. Now I aim to educate others.

Adult-Onset Diabetes is One of the Top Ten Leading Causes of Death in America

Adult-Onset Diabetes is an Epidemic

Adult- Onset Diabetes is a modern-day epidemic. According to the American Diabetes Association, 84.1 million Americans had pre-diabetes in 2015. In the same year, 9.4% of Americans had full-blown diabetes. It is amongst the top ten causes of death in America today.

This figure is expected to more than double in the next twenty years.

In this article, we will discuss the early warning signs. Pre-diabetes is the first stage of adult-onset diabetes proper and, if you can recognize the signs, you may be able to prevent yourself developing full-blown diabetes.

You will need to be alert, though. Pre-diabetes can be almost asymptomatic. You aren't going to feel sick. You won't feel 100% well, but you'll probably shrug off the symptoms as stress or overwork.

Fast Fact

1.5 million new cases are diagnosed every year in the U.S.A.

What is the Big Deal Anyway?

Adult onset diabetes is a serious disease. It is possible to manage it using medication but it cannot be cured.

If the disease is not managed properly, you can look forward to serious complications. The more serious of these are the loss of eyesight, renal failure, and nerve damage.

The body is also not able to heal as fast as it should and there is a very real danger that even minor injuries can become gangrenous. Many diabetics have to face the amputation of limbs in later life as a result of this.

Why take the risk?

Stop Diabetes Mellitus in its Tracks

There is Good News

What is good about being pre-diabetic is that you can still turn things around and make changes to prevent developing the full-blown disease.

Adult-onset diabetes is a so-called lifestyle disease. By following a healthy eating plan, you can make manage your symptoms and live a relatively normal life.

That means getting your 9 servings of fruit and vegetables a day, and exercising. It also means keeping highly processed and refined foods to a minimum.

And putting things off for a few "little while longer" is not really an option. Once you hit 40, your risk increases dramatically so do something today.

According to the U.S. Diabetes Prevention Program, just dropping your weight by 7% and getting a half hour's worth of exercise five days out of seven can decrease your risk by a whopping 58%.

Further on we will deal with what other steps you can take to decrease your risk.

Eat a Range of Fresh Produce

Risk Factors For Diabetes

Is There a History of Diabetes in Your Family?

This is one of the highest risk factors. Diabetes is hereditary. You need to get checked out if members of your immediate family have the disease.

Are You an Insomniac?

If you regularly get less than 5 hours sleep at night or are a shift worker, you are at greater risk.

Not getting enough uninterrupted sleep could change your metabolism in a similar manner that being overweight would.

To make matters worse, according to a study posted in 2013 in Psychoneuroendocrinology, sleep deprivation increases food intake the next day. The study found that particlpants had increased levels of Ghrelin, the hunger hormone and tended to select larger portions when it came to food choices.

When you don't get enough sleep, you are going to eat more than normal and also make bad food choices.

What is Your Cholesterol Count?

Here you need to focus particularly on the count of bad, LDL cholesterol.

It is important to take dietary measures to bring this reading down as far as possible as some brands of statins, prescribed to treat cholesterol, can increase your chances of developing diabetes.

How Are Your Hormones?

Women who battle with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome have a higher risk of developing the disease.

And, according to scientists at Scotland's Edinburgh University, men with testosterone levels on the low side are also at risk.

How Often do You Need to Pee?

When blood sugar levels are elevated, you become thirstier automatically and need to drink, and thus, pee more.

If this occurs mostly at night, get yourself checked out today.

Do you Battle With Thrush?

Every woman has the occasional problem with thrush, but those with higher blood sugar levels are more at risk of getting recurrent thrush infections.

You are also more likely to get urinary tract infections.

How Fast Do You Heal?

How quickly do wounds heal? If your body is constantly trying to balance out your blood sugar, it hasn't got the resources to devote to healing.

If small cuts, etc. seem to take an inordinate amount of time to heal, get tested.

How Slowly Do You Eat?

While eating faster is not in itself an increased risk factor for diabetes; it can make you more prone to being overweight.

The faster you eat, the more likely you are to overeat as the body has no time to register that it is full.

Are You Always Tired?

If there is no apparent cause for the fatigue and it is an on-going issue, speak to your doctor about having your sugar tested or go to your local pharmacy or clinic and get it monitored.

Research has shown that doctors are more likely to consider fatigue a symptom of thyroid problems than an indicator of sugar problems.

What Body Shape Are You?

If you carry all your weight around your middle, you are in for problems later in life.

This can be caused by excessive levels of cortisone, the stress hormone, but can also be caused by uncontrolled glucose levels.

Get out your tape measure and check your waist measurement - the point you need to look at is roughly halfway between your hip and last rib.

Women with waist measurements of more than 35 inches have a dangerously high risk of developing the disease.

Men with waist measurements of more than 40 inches have a dangerously high risk of developing the disease.

Are You Obese?

Not all people who are obese develop diabetes but it does increase your risk significantly.

Do you Smoke?

Smokers, you knew that this one was going to be in here - in a study conducted by Switzerland's Lausanne University, smokers had a 44% greater risk of developing diabetes.

Also, smoking causes more fat storage around the abdomen. Quit today, and you can cut that risk in half.

Are the Folds of Your Skin Darker Than the Rest?

A condition called Nigricans, that causes the darkening of the skin in the folds in big areas - like the groin, elbows, and neck, for example, could indicate that you have diabetes.

This condition will not improve with skin treatments or washing so look out for it.

It should be noted, however, that it could be indicative of several different diseases. It is, however, worth it to mention this to your doctor if you notice it.

Do You Get A Tingling Sensation Regularly?

If your extremities tingle often, or for seemingly no reason, you need to get it checked out.

This is often a sign of nerve damage that can come with the disease.

If this is a problem for you, it is not a good idea to walk around without shoes on - in the advanced stages; you could injure yourself and not feel a thing.

A friend's dad has diabetes, and he stepped on something sharp without realizing it.

The wound in the foot festered, and he never noticed it was infected because it didn't cause him any pain.

It was only when he became dangerously ill that he went to the doctor. By then it was too late to save his foot.

Fast Fact

If you have had a baby, how big was it when born? If it weighed more than 8 pounds, you might have picked up gestational diabetes. While it usually goes away when the baby is born, you have a higher risk of getting the disease later in life.

Get Your Body Moving

Your Quick Diet Makeover

  • Start off with following a healthy diet. What you want to start off doing is to cut out sugar and refined or processed foods.
  • Not for nothing, but a diet that is as close to nature as possible is also the best diet possible for you.The more refined a food is, the less work your body needs to do to digest it and the faster it spikes your blood sugar levels.
  • Look for foods that have a low Glycemic Index.
  • Steer clear of artificial sweeteners.The problem with artificial sweeteners is that they do not fool the body and you will still crave sugar.
  • Also, watch out for "natural" sweeteners that contain high levels of fructose. The liver is the only organ in your body that can metabolize fructose. Excessive levels of fructose overload your system. The liver converts most calories from fructose into fat, and this either ends up being stored in the liver or raising the triglyceride levels in the blood.
  • Do be wary of the so-called health foods - a lot contain high levels of sugar or fat.
  • Also watch out for low-fat products. They will either be full of sugar or full of artificial sweeteners. Low-fat food tastes bland and needs some flavor boosts.
  • You want to eat a portion of quality protein with every meal,
  • At least half your plate should be vegetables, and you should minimize the portions of high carbohydrate starches.
  • Do try to eat a variety of vegetables to get the variety of nutrients that your body needs.

Cinnamon is Good for More than Christmas!

Supplements That Can Help


Chromium is a good supplement to help control sugar levels and can be as effective at controlling pre-diabetes as prescribed medication. It is a good idea, however, to speak to your doctor before you start taking it.

It has been found to be useful in people who have hormone issues along with the sugar issues.

If you are pregnant, are trying to fall pregnant, or are breastfeeding, you should NOT take Chromium.


Getting enough Omega-3 fatty acids is also important, One of the most damaging side effects of high sugar levels is that it can cause inflammation.

Omega-3 helps to fight this.

Cod Liver Oil is the best source; as our bodies cannot easily convert plant sources.


Another supplement that has been scientifically proven to be effective is Cinnamon.

It helps to naturally control the levels of sugar in the blood.

Simply sprinkle some onto your oats in the morning or use when cooking.

You do not need a lot - a heaped teaspoon a day is plenty. There is a caveat here, though. Look out for Ceylon Cinnamon. You may need to source this from a health food store as most of the cinnamon sold in the grocery store is Cassia Cinnamon.

Cassia Cinnamon, taken in large quantities, over the long-term can cause liver and kidney damage because it has a high coumarin content. If you cannot find Ceylon Cinnamon powder, rather stick to a cinnamon supplement instead.

Using a Glucometer

Prick your finger using the lancing device.
Prick your finger using the lancing device.
Apply the blood to the strip - follow the directions for your machine. Record your results.
Apply the blood to the strip - follow the directions for your machine. Record your results.

Monitoring your Condition

If you are concerned about monitoring your sugar levels, you can get a glucose meter and test your sugar levels every morning before eating.

It is quick and relatively painless - I check my sugar every morning, and the Lancer is so quick that it is over before you have time to be scared.

Tips for Using your Glucose Meter:

  • Get your kit out and ready.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Get out the lancing device and a testing strip.
  • Prick your finger and apply the testing strip to the blood droplet.
  • Insert the strip into the glucose meter and get the reading.
  • Record the reading.

It does sometimes take a few practice runs to get it right - so don't worry if it doesn't work out first time round.

After a few days of this, you'll be a pro.

The advantage of testing your blood sugar levels every morning is that you can see the impact of the food that you ate the previous day.

You can also take your record with you to your doctor's appointment so that he/she can see the extent of the problem or how well you are managing on your meds.

Don't Delay, Check Today

Check Your Risk Now

The British Medical Journal's risk analysis can be found here:

Before you do anything else, go and check what your personal risk is.

Should you answer positively to the majority of questions or, if you find that you have a high risk, make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible.

Take the results of the analysis to your doctor.

They will need to do tests to confirm the diagnosis, but it is important to get treatment started as soon as you are able.

Diabetes is a manageable disease. With the right medication and lifestyle changes, you can still live a long and healthy life.

If you are lucky enough to catch it while it is in the pre-diabetic stage, you need never develop the disease at all. At this stage, a good diet and exercise can prevent full-blown diabetes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you suddenly develop diabetes?

No, but it may seem as though you do with Type I. The symptoms with Type I may seem to come on suddenly. The symptoms of Type II Diabetes set in over a longer period.

Is the term "Adult-onset diabetes" outdated?

The term is now somewhat outdated as children are developing the disease too.

What does onset of diabetes mean?

This phrase refers to when the condition starts.

Can you develop type 1 diabetes later in life?

Yes. Type I diabetes may develop at any age.

What are the 3 most common symptoms of undiagnosed diabetes?

  • Excessive thirst and frequent urination
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Fatigue

What does a diabetic attack feel like?

Patients may feel:

  • Irritable
  • Extremely tired
  • Weak

They may become incoherent, or lose consciousness. Their breathe may smell fruity or people may think they've been drinking. If things progress to this stage, it's life-threatening. The patient must get immediate medical care.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Ā© 2017 Fiona


Submit a Comment
  • Fiona Jean Mckay profile imageAUTHOR


    2 years ago from South Africa

    Hi Dianna

    Thank you, I hope so too.

  • teaches12345 profile image

    Dianna Mendez 

    2 years ago

    Your post is well written and very informative. I know people with this disease and I pray one day it will not even exist.


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