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Understanding Diabetes

January 31, 2022

Bhanu Iyer, MD, FACE, ECNU

An estimated 13% of all U.S. adults have diabetes, while 34.5% have prediabetes — a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not enough for a diabetes diagnosis, according to a 2020 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Moreover, the report found 15% of those with diabetes were unaware of their condition, while 85% of those with prediabetes did not know it.

Diabetes — a condition in which the body does not properly process food for energy, causing blood sugar levels to increase — can lead to serious health complications, including heart disease, liver damage, blindness and kidney failure. People with diabetes are also at greater risk of becoming seriously ill if diagnosed with COVID-19 or its variants.

In recognition of World Diabetes Day, we asked Bhanu Iyer, MD, FACE, ECNU, a fellowship-trained endocrinologist, to share her expertise about early detection and treatment of diabetes.

What Are the Symptoms?

There are no clear symptoms of prediabetes; and symptoms of diabetes, such as frequent urination, increased hunger and thirst, or weight loss, occur when your sugars are already very high. That’s why it’s important to get regular checkups to monitor your blood sugar levels. It’s also critical to know the risk factors of developing diabetes, which include family history, history of gestational diabetes, obesity, being physically inactive and high blood pressure.

Overweight adults should be screened for diabetes and prediabetes, starting at age 35.”

— U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

How Can Diabetes Be Managed?

Lifestyle is a major factor in preventing, delaying and controlling diabetes. Intensive lifestyle intervention to achieve and maintain a 7% loss of initial body weight, and moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking for at least 150 minutes a week, could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 58% over three years. It also helps improve glycemic control, thereby reducing the need for medications, including insulin.

For those requiring insulin, there have been significant advances in diabetic care over the past several years with the evolution of continuous glucose monitors as well as medications to reduce cardiometabolic risk. At Overlook, we have board-certified endocrinologists to optimize patient care as well as diabetes education specialists to teach patients how to monitor blood sugar levels, administer insulin, and follow diabetic nutrition guidelines.

Is It Safe for People with Diabetes to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Yes. They should absolutely get the vaccine because they are at higher risk of developing serious complications if infected from any virus, including COVID-19.


Overlook’s Outpatient Diabetes Center is located at 1 Springfield Avenue, Suite 1B, Summit. Call 908-522-5277.

Dr. Iyer and Atlantic Medical Group Thyroid Center at Summit are part of Atlantic Medical Group, a multispecialty network of health care providers. She can be reached at 908-522-6995.


World Diabetes Day is celebrated every November 14 to commemorate the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, who — along with Charles Best and John James Rickard Macleod — discovered insulin in 1922.