350,000 people in NJ have diabetes but don’t know it, feds says
On top of the hundreds of thousands who've been diagnosed, more than 350,000 New Jersey residents are living with diabetes and don't even know it, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That's a number greater than the population of Cape May, Cumberland and Salem counties combined.
More than 4 percent of the population is dealing with the chronic blood disease, undiagnosed, the report finds.
According to Tracy Coyle, a certified diabetes instructor with the JFK Diabetes and Nutrition Center at Hackensack Meridian Health, some people have become accustomed to feeling sluggish and unwell for so long that they fail to realize something is wrong.
"They don't realize how bad they feel until their sugar is controlled," Coyle said, reacting to the CDC report.
On top of fatigue, some symptoms that may be dismissed or confused for something else include frequent urination, extreme thirst and hunger, very dry skin, tingling hands or feet, and blurry vision.
"(Diabetes) is related to blood circulation," Coyle explained. "Literally every part of your body can be affected by your body if it's uncontrolled."
Down the line, the most serious health problems include heart disease, kidney disease and vision loss. Individuals with diabetes would likely be diagnosed before the disease reached these levels.
There's no "cure" for the disease, Coyle noted, but healthy lifestyle habits, perhaps along with medication and getting consistent assistance from a health care team, can reduce its impact on your life.
"With all the therapies that are available to people with diabetes, there's no reason nowadays to have uncontrolled diabetes," Coyle said.
The diabetes prevalence among New Jersey adults was 9.2 percent in 2016, according to the state Department of Health. It's the eighth leading cause of death in the state, responsible for nearly 2,000 lives each year.
The CDC says approximately 84 million Americans — more than 1 out of 3 — have prediabetes, a condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not at the level of type 2 diabetes.